One of the best things about post-processing may also be the worst thing about it. We have so many choices these days—which is great—but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can easily get overwhelmed by the plethora of choices you have in front of you.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do like to use presets on my images—although I use them as a starting point to my editing, and never just leave them as-is. Presets are handy because they speed up the process of editing your photos by changing the settings in one click, saving you from having to go through all the menu items and clicking them yourself. If you have a particular look to your images, you probably know the advantages of using presets in your editing workflow. I also use presets to inspire me by letting them change my photos in ways that I may not have imagined otherwise.
So when Sleeklens approached me to see if I’d be interested in testing out one of their workflows, I knew it was something I was interested in since, well, who doesn’t like to save time in editing?! I was given their Landscape workflow, which they interestingly call, “Through the Woods.” It comes with 30 brushes and 51 presets that you can use within Adobe Lightroom.
According to their website, this Through the Woods workflow is “the ultimate workflow for landscape photography. Designed to enhance, tone and sharpen your landscape photos in a natural style.”
Did it live up to these words? Let’s find out!
This particular workflow from Sleeklens comes with 30 brushes and 51 presets that are meant to help you in editing your photos. Some are basic presets, like Brighten Shadows or Darken Shadows, but the power of these presets comes when you “stack” one on top of another. This simply means you can add one preset over another without removing the effect of the first preset.
The presets are clearly labeled 0-All in One, 1-Base, 2-Exposure, 3-Color Correct, 4-Tone, and 5-Polish, signalling you should start from 0 or 1, and move your way up the levels to stack the presets. If you move back from level 3 to 0, for example, you won’t be stacking the presets, but will be removing the effects of a level 3 preset once you apply an All in One preset.
You’re never confined to how the presets look once selected. Once you select a preset, you’re able to tweak the settings to your liking by fine-tuning them yourself in the panels on the right hand side.
These presets are handy for the most part, but I saw myself going back to the panels and fine-tuning each one quite a bit. This is inevitable unless you’re 100 percent content with the preset you’re using—which in my case is hardly ever the case, being the picky one I am. I am also not too fond of some of the naming conventions used in these all-in-one presets. I always prefer the presets to be more descriptive of what the effects will be. So to me, a preset named “Pressed In Time” or “Wide Open Spaces” doesn’t effectively describe what changes will be made. At least you have an idea of what “Calm Sunset” or “Dawn Rising” may look like. It’s these types of presets that I find inspiring, by casually going through them to see what kind of effect it has on my photos, so a descriptive name would be helpful.
The 30 brushes that came with the Through the Woods workflow was a welcome addition. To use these, you simply select the Adjustment Brush (K), shown in the photo below highlighted in the green.
You then select the desired brush through the Effect dropdown menu, shown in the photo below.
You have a number of options like adding clarity and contrast, or adding some haze to your photo. As someone who uses adjustment brushes a fair amount in my own editing, I find these brushes quite useful, although I will admit, I still need to do some tweaking to the settings to get them to my own liking.
As with presets, these brushes are “stackable,” meaning you can brush over your photo a number of times with different brush effects and still maintain the effects of all of the brushes used.
With a variety of different brushes available—all suited for a landscape photo-editing workflow—I can see these becoming helpful in speeding up my editing time. In the photo above, I used a brush to add a slight orange glow around the sun to accentuate what was already there.
Graduated and Radial Filters
Another great use of these brushes are in the Graduated filter or the Radial filter. When you select either one of these tools, you will also be able to select these same brushes, thereby applying the effect gradually throughout your photo. I find this is a great way to edit your photo, especially because now you’re able to erase out selected areas of the filter to remove the effect. This is a big plus in my books.
To give some examples of what you can do with the Sleeklens Through the Woods Workflow, here are some before and after photos, edited completely with this workflow.
I always welcome the added benefit of presets when it comes to photo editing. They can ease the load off of having to tediously go through menu items to change options, and these set of presets and brushes do just this, to an extent. There are certainly no shortages of options to choose from here whether you like the presets or the brushes.
Whether these presets or brushes edit your photos in a natural style is still dependant on the user, and how he/she tweaks the settings to their liking. I will almost always tweak the settings in these presets and brushes to create the look that I’m after, but I appreciate the initial steps that are made for me to get to where I want. They make my editing workflow marginally faster, and that’s really what I look for in presets.
To be able to use these brushes with the graduated or radial filter tools is also a big time saver for me, and this is where I will likely see myself using these the most.
If landscapes aren’t your thing, no need to worry as they have a whole selection of other workflows from Portraits to Night Photography and more. Each workflow comes with a set of presets and brushes for a fairly decent price, so I’d recommend you take a look on their website to see if they have something you may be interested in. And finally, if you’re more of a Photoshop user, then they also have a wide selection of Photoshop actions that you may be interested in as well.
Sleeklens can be found online at http://www.sleeklens.com.
The Through the Woods landscape workflow can be found here: https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/.
Additional Lightroom presets can be found here: https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets.
The workflows come with detailed instructions on how to install the presets and brushes so you should have no worries getting started with any of these.
Disclaimer: This Through the Woods workflow was generously provided by Sleeklens for the purpose of this review, but opinions are strictly my own.