Throught the woods - lightroom presets

December 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Disclaimer: I was asked to give a brief review in exchange for a free sample of the product. This is my honest opinion of the product and is in no shape way or form influenced by the fact I got it for free.

 

Lightroom presets are not for everyone. The way they work is that they 'preset' some of your sliders in lightroom giving a certain look to your picture. With over 50+ sliders at 100s of increments for each one in lightroom, you can easily see that there is a very large number of looks you can achieve with your pictures. However, not everything is desirable, and not everything is appropriate for every picture. The people over at sleeklens.com have realised this and created in association with photographers a number of presets that can be applied to particular photo scenarios. I was given a sample of the landscape preset pack to play around with my own pictures and here are my impressions so far.

4 clicks in and I have something worth working with. Presets give you a good start to your end goal

How to use presets

The easiest way to use a preset is to click on the one you find most pleasing for your picture and end it there. This is basic and can work in a certain situation, however, you are missing the potential of presets. Presets can be great 'out of the box' but in reality, they are a springboard for your final picture. You use them to take some shortcuts to your idea. You click on the preset but then you might want to bring up the shadows a little more or use a brush to bring out something in the background and so on. Presets are basic ideas and basic ideas need to be expanded.

With the sleeklens presets you get something additional you get also a workflow. If you watch their video you will realise that you can stack your presets to e.g. add clarity, colour correct, desaturate etc. so a one click workflow is achievable. Here is the part that some people don't like. You want your picture to feel unique and sliding the sliders exactly how you want and achieving a signature look is part of every photographers philosophy. Automating this process can be a little... boring. But I did not feel like these presets did that. I still had to think critically what to apply to my picture. It made me really look into the picture and think about which parts needed correction and how could I achieve this. It was stimulating.

After brushes the final image comes out. From concept to final realisation.

Brushes

One of the nice things that is included with this pack is a selection of brushes. This is a number of presets that can be used in the brush section in lightroom. If you haven't used a brush before in lightroom it is time to do so as these add a lot of great detail that you could not achieve with just one click. It opens up a lot more possibilities. I think I like those the best in this pack. Adding warmth to cheeks is just a selection away and of course, because it is a preset I can tone it up or down as much as I like. Yes, I could have adjusted the highlights and shadows and picked a colour and then applied the brush and maybe then went back to re-adjust the colour or reduce the contrast. This is what presets do, take all this out of the equation and let you adjust them in the end anyways if something is not pleasing. I have been working with presets for a while (Nik collection, Photomatix) and the philosophy never bothered me. I know some that don't like them though and I have no problem with that opinion.

Overall

I enjoyed using these presets and would recommend them for beginners. Good thinking has gone into their creation. Not only are they nicely labelled to explain the effect but also they are number coded as well to explain the workflow. It is worth watching the videos sleeklens has on its websites or on youtube to understand how to use them especially how to stack them. I find also the recipe list they give with every pack a nice touch. Instructions on how to install the presets are clear. For the brushes, the information is clear as well but make sure to have hidden folders enabled otherwise you won't see the AppData folder that is described in the instructions.

As a last word I want to tell people that are just starting out in photography that presets might not be for you but give them a try before you dismiss them. Nik collection is free now so give it a go there first to see if you appreciate the presets. It won't be as easy to understand in Nik as it is with Sleeklens I can see that now after my experience, but it is free and worth the effort before buying into any present option. If you like what you see you can visit https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/ and https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets. I don't make any money from these links so visit at your leisure.


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