Pixels & Co iNSD Blog Hop!

Hello, everyone, it’s Jennifer Valencia here, and  I’m excited to be part of the Pixels & Co.  iNSD DESIGNER blog hop!

How this works:  Visit each of the 19 Pixels & Co. designer blogs in order, and collect the special letter or number from each blog.  Once you have all the pieces, return to the main Pixels & Co. site and use the letters/numbers in the order they were collected as a coupon code to download the blog hop kit for FREE.  Keep reading to find my letter at the end of this blog post, and a link to your next site. Here’s a preview of the kit!

*Pixels & Co. is zooming with traffic and customers. The owner is aware of the site slowdown and the team is working hard to increase server response. Please try back if you can’t get on right away. It’s a great kit, and we definitely want you to have it!  *


A bit about me: I write actions and photography eBooks for Pixels & Co.   I love using actions because they make my work quicker and easier.  Some of my favorite actions are the High Key Black and White  and the Black and White Beautiful because my clients love the clean timeless look of black and white, and I love b/w too (especially when I want to use a specific kit that I LOVE but my photos clash!)


In this post I want to cover two topics. First is how to use my part of the free kit. And second, I want to talk a bit about aperture — it’s one of the most common questions I get about photography.

How To Use The Action Set: Retro Postcards

My part of the free kit is an  action set for you called Retro Postcards, which runs in Adobe CS4+ and Elements 11.  These actions give a vintage, retro feel to a photo.

Retro Action Valencia Template

I love this orange chair at my parents’ home in Chicago – and I adore how the kids are  nestled together. I wanted to try a retro/vintage look  for fun, and then I wanted to erase the “retro-ness” on their faces –  b/c kids’ faces are just not meant to be retro, am I right? Here’s how I did it.


First I started with a photograph in CS4.  I made sure that my photograph file consisted of just one layer called Background. (That’s what your layer is always called, unless you change it deliberately.)  My actions are designed to run with Background as the starting layer.

I ran the Basic Retro action and ended up with these layers on top of my background. Note: I usually write my actions to be non-destructive (the background layer is still there), and I make the color layers editable. Although it may look daunting to see a big stack of layers there, I do this because it gives you more options to tailor and tweak the action. I just hate it when I run an action that merges all the layers down so I can’t tweak them — if I don’t like the results, I have no options! I spend a lot of time writing the actions, and I want you to be able to use them as effectively as I do on my own photos.


As you can see, there is a stack of layers, some visible and some invisible. Again, I do this to give you OPTIONS and hopefully make it very easy for you to use the action. Here’s an example of what to do with all of these layers!

retro-sample-5For these pictures, I merged all of the adjustment layers into one, and added a layer mask. Then I painted over their faces to let the background show from below. Voila! Vintage postcard with natural skin – just what I wanted.


You can change the look of the photo by adjusting opacity of the layers, or editing them directly. Here’s an example using the Retro Bold Action on a skyline in Vancouver:

retro-bold-sample-1Here’s the way to tweak the Retro Bold Action results.  (If you’re wondering: The reason I didn’t officially “group” the results is because I wrote the action to run in either Photoshop OR Elements, and the groupings are hard to ungroup in Elements.  Sometimes I write separate actions for Photoshop & Elements, but in this case, it’s just the same action that works in both programs.)


Some information about aperture.

I wrote a post about depth of field at the Pixels & Co. blog, which I hope you get a chance to read.  I’ve also put some excerpts from my eBook Captivating Candids here to help explain the basics of aperture. Please feel free to stop by the Pixels & Co. forums to ask any questions you have about photography or scrapping!



candids-section-10-apertureI hope that brief overview of aperture helped explain the concepts. And I hope that you try out my action that comes with the free kit!


 And now for the blog hop specific information:

My letter  is:  G

The next site you need to visit is Tiffany’s, at her site Simply Tiffany Studios.


Here is the entire list of blogs in order. Have fun!

Start Here
Jennifer Valencia Photography  <—  This is ME!  My letter is G.
Simply Tiffany Studios
The Queen of Quirk
Mye De Leon
Dawn by Design
The Ardent Sparrow
Robyn Meierotto
Karen Funk
Crystal Livesay
Scotty Girl Design
Karla Dudley
Wild Blueberry Ink
Deena Rutter
Celeste Knight
Jeryn Carlisi
Gennifer Bursett

10 thoughts on “Pixels & Co iNSD Blog Hop!

  1. Pingback: P & Co Blog Hop

  2. Loved your photography article and samples. Will certainly bookmark to return later for a more detailed perusal. ;)

  3. Pingback: iNSD 2013 Happenings | creashens

  4. Thank you for the tips, I never thought about layer masks before and it totally makes sense. Sometimes I really like what an action to parts of my photos, but if it doesn’t look good on other parts i completely toss it. Now I won’t have to. Thanks!

  5. I really enjoy your blog, this is my first time and I know I’ll be returning again and again. Do you have an option to get your blog posts by email?

    • yes, I’d LOVE to have you sign up! If you go to my home page, you will see a gray box on the right hand side as you scroll down. You can enter your email in there for blog post updates. That sign-up box is only on the home page, which is probably why you didn’t see it in this blog post. Thanks for reading & following along on the blog hop! :)

  6. Thank you for your excellent tutorials! I recently upgraded to PSE10 and have been playing around with actions, so this was really timely and helpful for me! I’ve had trouble getting good contrast when I convert to B&W, so was thinking of buying your B&W action in the P&C shop. After reading your blog, I’m convinced to go for it. Love these blog hops for just this reason!
    : ) Mel

Leave a Reply