sleeklens ss

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 info

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


Dog Rocks, Geelong

Dog Rocks sunset


Base: Tone and colour

Colour: deepen skies

Tone: desaturate

Polish: add clarity

Vignette: subtle black


subtle clarity

cloudy sky definition

Jetty at Point Richards, Portarlington at sunset.

Point Richards Pier


Base: basic film

Exposure: darken shadows

Exposure: less highlights

Colour: deep blue skies

Colour: cool down


add clarity

darken shadows

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Inspiration for photography

Sometimes we all get stuck. We get into a bit of a rut, we start to feel a bit stale and have trouble finding a subject to inspire us and get our creativity flowing again. Often the solution is looking at images by other photographers, however there are other sources of inspiration to kick start our creativity.

Books are a great source of inspiration. Not photography books, but novels, historical texts, biographies or any other genre can provide ideas to get you photographing again. I often find myself drawing ideas from descriptions of places or people in a novel. Often a writer will treat a city as a character in their work and so describe it’s smells, sights and atmosphere in such a way that it makes you want to try to recreate that.

Movies and TV shows can provide as much inspiration as still images, as the creators of these are trying to achieve the same thing as a still photographer: to instill a certain feeling or atmosphere into the scene to assist their story.

Often the best way to find inspiration is simply to go for a walk. Leave the camera at home and take a walk, or even a drive, to a nearby park, beach, or around your own town or neighbourhood and take note of the things that you would normally pass by. Are there any landmarks? Are your neighbours mostly families with young children or professional types. Are there cafe’s with character. What about the architecture? Are houses modern in style or old and full of charm? Amongst all of this, you’re bound to find something that interests you close to home. Once you do, come back with your camera and make it into a personal project. Hopefully this will lead you to bigger ideas.

It is usually only one little spark that is needed to put us back in a creative frame of mind and once you get that first idea, they just keep flowing. Mostly its just a matter of keeping an open mind to new sources of inspiration.

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PhotoShelter Photo Business Boot Camp

The good folk at PhotoShelter are offering up yet more great photo business advice. Apart from offering a image storage and website solution for photographers, these guys produce e-books by the dozen and run a great blog that often includes webinars featuring art directors, photographers and people in the photography and publishing industries that provide some useful insight on how photographers are hired and how to construct a portfolio amongst other things. And they do it all for free (except for the storage and website bit).

Their latest offer is the Photo Business Bootcamp. A 5 week course that you can receive by e-mail to help you in starting up or growing your photography business. The course covers finding inspiration, designing and using your website effectively, online marketing and selling your services and your photos. I’ve signed up and am looking forward to getting started.

Click HERE to find out more and sign up.

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The Photographers Ephemeris

The Photographers Ephemeris is a great little app that is available for free download for PC, Mac and also Ipad and Iphone. The app allows gives you sunrise and sunset times throughout the year for any particular area and also shows you the direction of the sunrise and sunset. It also does the same for the moon. I’m finding this program invaluable for planning  location shoots.

It’s quick to download and easy to use. It is as simple as typing in your location and searching. The program runs using Google Maps software and so gives you the ability to drill down to a specific address. Basically as long as the location is mapped in Google Maps, then you can find out the sunrise/sunset times at any given time over the year for any given location on the planet. Seriously cool.

As can be seen in the diagram above, the coloured lines on the map show the direction of the sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset, while the table on the right gives the times.

I think this could be an invaluable tool for a travelling photographer, especially the versions for mobile devices such as Ipads and Iphones. I hear there is also a version in the works for Android users.

The calender also gives you the ability to skip forward a few weeks or months to help in the planning of upcoming trips.

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