A little while ago, the folks at Sleeklens asked me to try out their landscape photography workflow for Lightroom. So after a few days of playing, reprocessing some old images and working on some new ones, these are my thoughts.
What is it?
The workflow is a collection of presets and brushes that can be stacked to make photo editing faster. Included in the bundle are installation instructions, access to a help forum, video tutorials and “recipe lists” which are before and after images and the presets and brushes used to edit them to the final result. These are good as examples of what can be achieved, but rarely relevant unless you’re looking at editing a very similar image. Essentially, its the presets and brushes that you’re paying for.
The download comes in a zip file, which you need to extract and save onto your PC or Mac. Installing Lightroom presets is pretty simple, just navigate within Lightroom to the folder where they are saved and import. Installing brushes is a little more complicated, but the instructions given are clear and easy to follow. The whole process took me about 10 minutes.
Using the workflow
Using the presets is quite intuitive. There are some “all in one” presets that aim to give an overall mood to the image, or for more control, there are several categories of global adjustments such as base adjustments, exposure, colour corrections, tone/tint, polish and vignettes. To me, presets are always a good starting point but it is easy to fall into the trap of letting them prescribe how your finished image should look rather then following your own vision. So I tended to adjust these to suit anyway, meaning that the total processing time wasn’t as quick as I’d hoped initially. Most of the changes applied are quite dramatic and were a bit over the top for my taste. I found myself making some toned down versions of the same adjustments, but once I did that, working with them became quite fast. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste and others might find that the original ones suit them just fine.
The brushes, I like. As with presets, these are also grouped into effect types, but I found them much more useful. Although I found myself wanting to tone these down sometimes as well, I found I was able to add a lot of depth to images quickly using these.
I couldn’t see myself using a workflow like this for every image. Its just not the way I like to work. But for editing several similar images together its a great tool. Its also adjustable to suit your own vision. If you’re willing to put in the time to learn how each adjustment alters your image, you will be able to cut down editing time as well as find a consistent style.
More detailed technical info can be found on the Sleeklens website, as well as introductory videos. The workflow is also available for Photoshop if that is your preferred editing tool. The one I trialled is the Into the Woods workflow for landscape photography, but they also produce separate workflows for portrait, food and architecture amongst others.
Below are some images processed using only this workflow. Each took around 2 or 3 minutes from start to finish
Base: Tone and colour
Colour: deepen skies
Polish: add clarity
Vignette: subtle black
cloudy sky definition
Base: basic film
Exposure: darken shadows
Exposure: less highlights
Colour: deep blue skies
Colour: cool down