before + after | photo processing with RadLab

November 3, 2011 |  by  |  before+after

This is a long overdue post folks!  I think I’ve been promising to do a more in-depth post on how I use RabLab for photo editing for a quite a while now. The truth is, I’ve been putting it off because I’m going through a photo processing identity crisis. I love the modern-meets-vintage-faded-nostalgic-look but lately I’ve been feeling like my photos look overly processed.  Right now I’m trying to get that look I like without the photo screaming, “this was extensively photoshopped!” I look back at some of the photos I’ve processed over the years and I can’t help but cringe a little (sometimes a LOT).  Oh well, it’s a work in progress.  Since it’s probably going to take some time before I find that happy place for my photo editing, I figured I should just go ahead and share what I’m doing right now.

Here are some examples of the before (straight out of camera) + after (processed using RadLab)

before + after no. 1

before + after no. 2

before + after no. 3

before + after no. 4

What is RadLab exactly?   It’s a photoshop plug-in and it functions like Totally Rad photoshop actions on speed. You get instant previews of what the photo will look like before you apply a certain style and once you decide to run it, the processing happens pretty much instantaneously. For a more eloquent and in-depth explanation of RadLab, check out this video by Doug Boutwell.

Here’s a closer at the RadLab interface. Behold the instant previews!   Notice that there are two tabs? The styles tab is where you will find all the different RadLab styles that can be applied. Those of you that have TRA or TRA2: The Revenge will see that most of your beloved actions are now available as “stylets” in RadLab.

Let’s talk about the recipes tab.  Hands down, this is my favorite feature!  This is where you can save your customized combinations of stylets (“recipes”) so that you can easily access them and use them over and over again! The saving process is easy too – just click on the SAVE button, name your recipe, and it’s added to your recipes tab.

Here’s a closer look at the recipe I used to process the pumpkin festival photos.

I really really love RabLab.  It’s super easy to use and super fast and it’s literally cut my photo processing time down by half (at least! and that’s no exaggeration!).


21 Comments


  1. 1
    Marty says:

    Thanks for posting this Liz. I have RadLab now, but still need to play around with it a bit.
    You have motivated me!

  2. 2
    Kelly Kautz says:

    I’m in the same boat. I hate photos that look overly processed, but I do love to give mine a little something *extra.* Striking a balance between the two is a constant challenge, but looking at my old photos tells me I’ve come a long way from where I used to be!

  3. 3
    Carly says:

    I totally know what you mean about going through a photo processing identity crisis, however your photos always look gorgeous to me! Have you ever tried editing in LR with presets? I find it works very similar to RadLab and it’s such a great program for organizing and managing all your pics too! And can I just add that your blog and digi kits ROCK!! Thank you for always being so inspiring!

  4. 4
    Amy says:

    So sad that this isn’t available for Photoshop Elements. :-(

    • 4.1
      susie says:

      it is! i have PSE 9 and own rad lab and i LOVE it… not sure i could love a piece of software, but i do :)

      • Amy says:

        *gasp* I had tried using some of their free actions before and couldn’t get them to work, so I guess I assumed they didn’t have PSE stuff. Fantabulous!!!!

        • susie says:

          yes, i think that most of their actions are just for photoshop…when i first found them i was bummed too. but this made up for it! i really love it!! hope you will too!

  5. 5
    Julie Kelley says:

    This program looks fantastic. I hear you on the identity crisis part of photography style. I like the dreamy, vintage style that you have (and that is so popular these days), but I tend to prefer bolder colors in my own work–talk about an identity crisis! Have you ever watched anything from CreativeLIVE? It’s a photography-intensive “live, worldwide creative classroom,” and they have been fantastically educational about all things photography.

  6. 6
    marcy says:

    This on my wish list and you may have just pushed me over the edge! LOL

  7. 7
    Peppermint says:

    Man, it looks really fun to play around with – but for the amount of money I shell out for Lightroom I just can’t justify that price tag on another photo processing do-hickey. I like how you get to see all those “recipes”, though. That’s handy. I do a lot of “apply .. wait, that looks stupid … reset”. Haha.

  8. 8
    elana says:

    I’ve got PSE also and had trouble with actions so I downloaded their free trial and it’s so amazing that I bought the program! If you “Like” them on FB there’s a 10% off code :)

  9. 9
    susan ramos says:

    Thanks Liz – great review! Wonder if they are going to add anything else to this, like other sets for purchase. Not like I need more actions or presets for LR but hey this has nice before and afters. I like that ;)

    Thanks Elana for the tip on the 10%!

  10. 10
    Trude says:

    Thanks for sharing! I download the trial but haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. Definitely need to! :)

  11. 11
    Molly says:

    Liz, I love your photo processing!
    When you process in photoshop using RadLab do you typically process the RAW image or JPG?

    • 11.1
      Liz says:

      Thanks Molly! Whenever possible, I use the RAW image because then I can sync the temperature values of the photos so when I batch process, it’s much easier to get the same tones on the photos.

  12. 12
    jennifer says:

    Liz, thank you so much for sharing!! Just love the look of your photos. Wish I could get this look straight from the camera but unless you use film it’s hard to get. I’m going to test out RadLab.

  13. 13
    neil says:

    love Radlab, great review. see another feature on Radlab at http://411design.net/home/2011/11/radlab/

  14. 14
    Lindsey says:

    oooo…thank you so much for showing us radlab! it’s awesome. I have photoshop elements and the free version works on it…fyi. I loved your recipe you gave us. Amazing how you just tone down a few of the filters and it looks stunning. Was that recipe the one you used for all of your pumpkin patch photos? Feel free to share more recipes! It’s mind-opening. I know where I am going to spend my hours now. Thanks!!!

  15. 15

    [...] Liz: I edit my photos using RadLab, a Photoshop plugin by Totally Rad! Examples of my photo processing using RadLab can be found here. [...]

  16. 16
    Chelsea says:

    I love your blog! your photos of your girls are always so adorable! I was wondering if there might be a possibility of you putting some downloads or your favorite radlab recipes or some more screen shots of your favorites? Thanks
    Chelsea

Trackbacks

  1. feedback monday: creative team edition (part 2) « Becky's Blog

Leave a Reply