There are many photo-editing products available for processing images in conjunction with Lightroom. Many of these products are third-party plugins which can be used directly from Lightroom or as stand-alone applications. Other products provide presets or brushes used within Lightroom. Presets actually move the Lightroom sliders, creating enhancements that affect the entire image. Brushes are used to selectively brush in adjustments through the Lightroom adjustment brush or the gradient tool.
Recently I began incorporating Sleeklens presets and brushes into my workflow. These products are real time-savers as I spend less time deciding upon which combination of sliders to use in Lightroom for the effect I want. If I want to add a haze over the entire image or just parts of an image, I look for a brush or preset that provides haze. There are several choices for different types of hazes–such as a cool or warm haze. There is even a “Purple Haze” brush and a “Cinematic Haze” preset. Once these enhancements are made, it is very easy to make further refinements to the sliders, or to conveniently go back to an image in the future and be able to make changes to previous settings. Sleeklens has also created “All in One” presets, that are a combination of settings bundled together under one description. The All In One presets create a mood like “Blueberry Kisses” or an effect like “Vintage Film”.
The Sleeklens presets spark my creativity. Many times I will go through all the presets in a Sleeklens workflow, on the left side of the Lightroom panel, checking out the different effects to get ideas on how I want to process my images. A preview of the preset is visible in the Navigator window above the list of presets. I just hover over the preset description to see the preview. Presets can be stacked and Sleeklens provides a video tutorial on stacking.
The adjustment brush is located on the right side of the Lightroom screen immediately above “Basic” adjustments, and to the far right. Once the brush is clicked a dropdown menu with a list of Sleeklens brushes becomes available by clicking the arrows to the right of the description of the brush. A similar list appears with the gradient tool. I just go down the list, pick out a brush or gradient enhancement, and paint on different effects or modify the gradient. I can experiment and then reset the brush or the slider, if I want to make changes.
For those less experienced with or intimidated by Lightroom, the Sleeklens products should be very helpful. There is no need to worry about how to use the siders in Lightroom. Just experiment with the different presets or adjustments, and be the artist you enjoy being, You can warm up an image by finding a preset for warmth, or soften a person’s skin by finding an adjustment brush that provides that effect. If you are concerned about how to install and use the products, Sleeklens provides many educational video tutorials on its website.
The Sleeklens products can be purchased as individual workflows or in bundles of Workflows. I started with a free download of the Starter Pack. I became intrigued and purchased the Landscape Essentials Workflow Bundle to increase the number of presets and brushes I could work with. Sleeklens learned I was writing a review, and provided me the Portrait Essentials Workflow Bundle and Visual Noir and Aura Laborar Night Workflows, so that I would have a broader view of the products. All products have performed equally well for me.
The Landscape Essentials Workflow Bundle includes three workflows: “Through the Woods,” “Out of the Shadows HDR,” and “Brick and Mortar” (good for city scenes). The image below was processed with the “Out Of The Shadows Workflow”. I used a series of stacked presets: “Bright HDR,” “Darken,” “Golden Glow” and “Warm Overall”. I then brushed in effects using the “Brighten Shadows” and “Darken Highlights” brushes.
Using the “Brick and Mortar Workflow”, I first enhanced the following image using the “Beautiful Daylight”, “Warm to Cool”, and “Subtle Vignette” presets, and then brightened the horse using a “Brighten Shadow” brush. Enhancements can be very subtle to make a difference in your image. (I prefer subtle, unless the image is crying out to be bold or dramatic.)
The Portrait Essential Workflow Bundle also contains three workflows: “Chasing Light”, “Runway Fashion” and “Strike A Pose”. I processed the following portrait using presets and brushes from two workflows. I stacked the “In The Shadows”, “Fix Red Skin”, “Desaturate”, “Red/Green”, and “Strong Black” Vignette presets from the “Chasing Light Workflow”, and then used the “DR Increase Highest” preset from the Visual Noir Workflow. From the “Chasing Shadows Workflow” I used a “Darken” brush under the hat on the face and a “Clarity and Detail” brush on the beard.
The Aura Laborar Workflow is for nighttime images. The below image was initially enhanced using the “Sandstorm II” preset. Then I just brushed in some adjustments to tone down the moon, deepen the moon’s reflection on the water, and brighten the buildings, using the “Darken,” “Brighten” and “Saturate” brushes. Very quick and easy.
Using Sleeklens doesn’t mean giving up on your favorite Lightroom plug-ins. You can still move on to a plug-in once you have finished your Lightroom enhancements. You will probably move on a bit quicker, as Sleeklens should save you time while sparking your creativity.
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