Sleeklens Workflow Review

March 10, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I don't use many presets in my photo editing workflow. Specifically, I use 2 presets: one for landscapes and one for portraits. Typically I apply the preset after importing the images to Lightroom, then I tweak the setting and make local adjustments. I have tried out some free presets on occasion, including a VSCO film pack and a set from ON1, but generally haven't been happy with the results. Plus, I like playing with the sliders. Except that I usually end up moving the same sliders the same way in the same amount for every photo.

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out the "Through the Woods" preset workflow for Lightroom from Sleeklens in exchange for an honest review. So I downloaded and installed the presets, glanced through the recipe booklet, and here's the result:

Edited with Sleeklens PresetsAerial sunset; HDR composite of 5 bracketed shots captured with the DJI Mavic Pro The Through the Woods workflow is a collection of 51 presets and 30 brushes for Lightroom specifically created for landscape photography. Some of the presets are "all-in-one," designed to give an image a particular look with one click. Others are targeted at making certain adjustments, such as exposure, color, polish, or vignette, and are designed to be stacked one after another. Similarly, the brushes are presets that can be used with Lightroom's graduated filter, radial filter, and adjustment brush tools to make targeted adjustments to the image.

The image above is an HDR composite of 5 bracketed exposures captured with the Mavic Pro (if you want to learn how to get these results from the Mavic's tiny camera, read my previous post). The image below is the unedited photo after HDR processing using Lightroom. The only adjustments applied are a lens correction profile and minor cropping. The sky is nice, but lacking in vibrancy and contrast, and the foreground is lost in shadow.

 

Unretouched HDR Composite To get the final image above I used a series of 5 presets, then added 2 radial filters using the supplied brushes. The presets used are:

  1. Through the Woods - All in One - Dawn Rising
  2. Through the Woods - Base - Cinematic
  3. Through the Woods - Exposure - Less Highlights
  4. Through the Woods - Tone/Tint - Warm It Up
  5. Through the Woods - Vignette - Subtle Black

These 5 clicks got the image about 95% of the way, but the foreground was still very dark and the horizon was just missing some intensity that should be there because the sun had just dipped out of sight and was still very bright. I used a large radial filter across the foreground with the Light - Add Golden Sun brush to relight the foreground, then a second large radial filter along the horizon line with the Haze - Golden brush to bring the intensity back. The final step was to add +25 Luminance Noise Reduction to smooth out the shadow noise (Sharpening was set by the presets and did not have to be adjusted manually.)

The images below provide a side-by-side comparison of my original edit using my regular manual workflow and the result achieved using the Sleeklens workflow.

Manual Edit in LightroomRetouched in Lightroom using my default landscape preset followed by manual adjustment of sliders and filters. Edited Using Sleeklens WorkflowOnly Through the Woods presets and brushes were used; no manual adjustments were made.

So which is better? Honestly, I have to say that I like the Sleeklens image better than my manual edit. The overall result is similar, but I like the golden light on the horizon, details in the center of the clouds, and the foreground elements better in the Sleeklens image. And considering that this was my very first attempt using the workflow in comparison to a manual process that I've used on hundreds of photos, I am very impressed with how well it works and how easy it is to use. I will definitely be using this workflow more in the future.

If you are interested in this workflow, check out their tutorials (https://sleeklens.com/lightroom-tutorials/) to see what is possible or visit the "Through the Woods" preset workflow page (https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets).


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