The introduction of digital photography has provided many benefits to include instant feedback, almost unlimited photo captures and photo processing software. However, one of the drawbacks, tied to the photo captures, is the massive amount of digital files that must be processed after the shooting session is completed. The time spent processing and working sometimes hundreds of photos in Lightroom can dwarf the time spent shooting and reduce the pleasure. That is where any program that can speed up this workflow is greatly appreciated. Recently, Sleeklens contacted my photography business to conduct a review of their presets and brushes that are meant to reduce the labor needed in processing images and the following is my review.
In case you don’t know what presets and brushes are, presets are basically pre-built recipes for adjusting your photograph. This could be changing the highlights, adjusting contrast, punching up the colors, etc. You just click on a preset and it makes the adjustments for you. Brushes are just what they sound like, little paintbrushes that allow you to add more localized adjustments rather than throughout the whole picture.
I opted to try out the Lightroom presets and brushes. They also have Photoshop tools but since I do 90% of my work in Lightroom, I chose that. Installation was very simple with the most important step knowing where you keep your presets and brushes. It just required putting the presets and brushes in the proper folder, restarting Lightroom, and then you were up and running. In addition, they had online tutorials that walk you through every step to have you up and running within 5 minutes.
Once installed, it was very simple to use. Their presets were numbered according to when you would want to apply them with 0 being overall treatments to 1-6 being more specific. I found it easiest to just begin with the 0s and work my way down to the 6 level presets. Now, it’s important to note that not all presets create beautiful works of art with all photos. Because every photo is different, some of the recipes don’t look so good and this is where you can try out a preset, judge whether you like it, and if not, go to your history and change it back. Very simple and non destructive. In addition, I found that some of the presets were a little more saturated then I liked but that was simply adjusted by going to the Develop module and dialing saturation down a little. The key to understanding these presets is that they are starting points, not the final treatment (in most cases).
The brushes were similar in ease of use. You simply selected your adjustment brush, click on the brush type (my package came with 30 different effect brushes) and then start painting on the photograph where you wanted to make the change. Like the presets, this allowed changes in color, exposure, saturation, etc but in a much more specific location.
Here are a couple of examples.
I noticed that the cactus in my garden was blooming. I purposefully underexposed the photo so that I could try out the presets and brushes and see how easy it would be to “rescue” this photo. I first used the High Dynamic Range preset to open up the shadows. I then moved to the brushes and used a decrease highlights for the outside edges. I also used a mustard color for the flower (at reduced strength) and selectively adjusted the highlights and shadows. A quick crop and I got my Desert Flower picture.
On a recent trip to Bologna Spain, I was able to visit the famous Gugenheim museum. There were some storm clouds coming in but I still had time to capture some sunlight on the museum. For the adjustments, I started with a High Dynamic Range preset (seems to be one of my favorites) and then added a medium black vignette. Following this, I went to the Sleeklens brushes and painted the clouds increasing the highlights and clarity. Lastly, I opened up the shadows on the hill just on the other side of the bridge.
Overall, I found these tools to be very intuitive and fun to use. They aren’t going to be the one stop solution for all my pictures, however a great starting point for the initial adjustments. I feel that the more I use them and become familiar with their capabilities, the more they will become integrated into my workflow.
If interested for more information, here are links to their workflow products.
(https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/, https://sleeklens.com/product/professional-photo-editing-service/,https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets) and https://www.pinterest.com/sleeklens/lightroom-presets/
Give them a try and see if it works for you!