This is the first article in a new series called "The Gadget Bag". This series of articles will focus on reviews of the tools that we use in Photography; Cameras, Lenses, Accessories and Post processing software.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is an integral part of my digital workflow and therefore whenever I get the opportunity to test new plugins that can save time or improve my workflow, I am happy to do so. Consequently being approached by Sleeklens (www.Sleeklens.com) to review their 'Through the Woods' collection of Landscape presets for Lightroom sparked my interest.
Sleeklens is a company that provides photography-related services targeted towards image editing. They provide:
Professional Photoshop Templates
Their website lists 15 distinct workflow packages and 3 workflow bundles that cater to the needs of photographers who use Lightroom as their tool of choice. I was provided with access to the 'Through The Woods' Landscape Bundle which consists of 30 Landscape Brushes and 50 Landscape Presets. https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets/
Review of the preset package started with downloading the zip file from the Sleeklens website. The instructions for installation were easy to follow and I was up and running within about 2 mins of reading them. Additionally, the package included a handy document (Recipe List) that provided 'before' and 'after' examples that demonstrated the effects of the presets on various images. Please click on the images for an enlarged view.
After Installation the presets could be found in the left pane of the 'Develop' module, nested under the 'Through The Woods' Preset folder (shown below).
I have always found that 'Develop' presets can act as a source of inspiration and creativity by allowing the photographer to experiment with a variety of post-processing options in a quick and efficient manner. They also act as a starting point for selective post-processing. A well-crafted collection of presets are a valuable tool in the arsenal of a successful photographer.
The typical workflow of most photographers will have them importing their images into Lightroom and then using the tools in the basic 'Develop' module to make the adjustments associated with cropping, lens correction, exposure and colour. The next step is to add the creative touches to the image in order to bring it to its full potential. This is where an expertly crafted set of presets can be extremely helpful and where the Sleeklens 'Through the Woods' collection of presets shows its value.
To test the presets I loaded a number of images into Lightroom, performed the basic editing steps and then used the presets to enhance the final images. To keep this review relatively short I will limit the review to a discussion of three of those images.
Image 1: City Sunset
A landscape image taken on a recent trip to Orlando, Florida. A basic image taken from the balcony of my hotel room overlooking a waterway with a city in the distance. Please click on the images for an enlarged view.
As can be seen in the screen shots, the initial adjustments in Lightroom resulted in a balanced image with controlled exposure in both the highlights and the shadows. As to be expected at this point in the post-processing workflow the result is a rather flat image with muted colours and contrast. Application of the 'All in one Punch it up' preset, resulted in a visible improvement in the overall colour and contrast, with a nice "pop" in the colour in the sky and the grass on the verge of the water way. The "colour-bump" was controlled and enhanced the subtle blues and magentas while not being excessive. I was very impressed with how the application of the preset improved the overall contrast while maintaining the exposure of both highlights and shadows. The final result is a very pleasing image which requires only a few minor tweaks to complete the process.
Image 2: Vintage Car
Yes these are landscape presets but that does not mean that they cannot be used with other types of images. Following my usual workflow the initial adjustments to the image were made in the basic panel of Lightroom (Crop, exposure, colour). Then it was over to the Sleeklens presets for a touch of warmth, a little pop in the colour and overall clarity. Again I was impressed with how the preset controlled the difficult areas of highlight and shadows while still adding a boost to the exposure and colour. Please click on the images for an enlarged view.
Image 3. The Jetty
For this image I chose the 'All in One Calm Sunset' preset as a starting point and then applied a few more adjustments which led to the final image below. The adjustments are shown in the screen shot of the History pane Please click on the images for an enlarged view.
In my opinion the Sleeklens 'Through the Woods' landscape collection (US $39.00 from Sleeklens.com) are presets which have been developed with a clear understanding of the needs of landscape photographers. I would recommend them to any person who has a love for the landscape genre and I will be using them in my Lightroom workflow.
In the next Installment of my gadget bag reviews. I will be taking a look at Sleeklens's Landscape Adventure Photoshop actions .