For many photographers presets are becoming an increasingly important part of their Lightroom and Photoshop workflow and the principle of producing a stunning image with just a few clicks is an enticing proposition. So is this possible, what’s available and how do they work?
Sleeklens are a relatively new Danish company who offer collections of individual workflows, either for Photoshop or Lightroom, to help you process your images and I was recently contacted by them to provide an impartial review of their product.
I took a look at their website, which was impressive being professional and clear, and also their Youtube video tutorials which were again very good. Consequently I agreed to test their "Through the Woods" workflow Lightroom presets as this is my preferred editing tool. They actually offer 3 full Collections and 17 distinct Lightroom workflow packages covering different genres such as Landscapes, Architecture, Portraits, Baby and Weddings and also offer a limited free tester range.
I do use presets already, mainly Google Nik Silver Effex and some Craft & Vision colour and b&w presets. However these are invariably used as a start point in the image process and in every case the “one click” preset is never the final image. I would like to admit that I always have a clear idea of my “end in mind” and select the preset to help achieve that look but the truth is that sometimes scrolling through the different options throws up a look that I hadn’t previously considered, though it is fair to say that in all cases care needs to be taken to avoid an overly processed look.
The “Through the Woods”workflow comes with 51 presets, along with 30 adjustment brush presets. The presets are organised into groups including “All in one” which are designed to be a one click solution though I must admit I didn’t think too much of these with the exception of “Pressed in Time”, a black and white preset that was a pretty good start point. However the rest of the presets are designed to be used together as layers to build up your image starting with Base then Exposure, Colour, Tone/Tint, Polish and Vignette. I found this way of editing to be much better and achieved some decent results though whether it saves time is debatable and it should be pointed out that all these effects can be produced by using the standard Lightroom sliders and controls.
In addition to the image presets which are applied globally to your image there are 30 Adjustment brushes for local editing and of course, like the global presets, the effects can be adjusted to suit your own taste. These not only work as a brush but also in the gradient and radial filters too. So you can see that the best way to use this workflow is to build from a base preset, then adjust the overall look before fine tuning with adjustment brushes.
Installation was pretty straightforward with some excellent support notes from Sleeklens.
So how did the preset package perform? Well here are several examples.