Sleeklens Review – Through the Woods Lightroom Presets and Brushes

sleeklens review

Sleeklens Review

Today I took an in-depth look at Sleeklens’ presets and their Lightroom workflow. For this review, I will be using the Through the Woods Landscape workflow, though they have many different sets available many styles of photography.

Installation

The first thing that you will notice upon installing is a very basic and easy installation. A lot of plugins and presets can give you problems when it comes to opening up your folders, copying and pasting files, and then actually working. With Sleeklens, I experienced no issues. Upon opening the files, you will see a few helpful PDF’s. Included are: a recipe list, terms of service and of course install directions for both the presets and the brushes. The entire process of downloading files, to having Lightroom ready to edit photos using this workflow is under 10 minutes.

Selecting My Photos

Being the Landscape Essentials, I wanted to choose a variety of landscape scenes. I wanted to make sure and include some of the most common elements and issues amongst landscape photos. I have some water, both falls and ocean, a sunset, autumn colors, lots of clouds and of course some hometown desert, in the mix today for this review. Most of these shots started out underexposed as you can see in the before shots. Let’s jump into the Sleeklens review now!

Presets and Brushes

There are two ways Sleeklens provides to both add some creativity and speed up your workflow. For all of my edits in this review, I would correct lens distortion and then crop before starting. All shots were single exposures. I would then run through presets to find a nice starting point and stack them via their recommended section, in order. For more information on this, check out their How to Stack Lightroom Presets video.

After working my way through the desired presets (and remember, they are all stackable and each is adjustable) I would move on to more specific areas of my image and focus on some brushing. The brushes layer upon each other with ease, which comes in handy! Let’s jump into some edits below. On each, you can see my before and after. I will talk about the recipe and cliff notes for each. Make sure you move the sliders to both sides of the image to see the complete before and after.

Before and After

My first shot for this Sleeklens review is a long exposure of a waterfall in Oregon. This was a very lush area, and in the early morning I was there shooting, I wanted my final edit to convey the mystical feeling that surrounded this area.

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The great thing about this edit was how quickly I went through it. I applied three presets:

  1. 1-Base – Basic Film
  2. 2-Exposure – Brighten
  3. 6-Vignette – Subtle Black

Believe it or not there was not much left to do from here! I used the Sleeklens Reduce Highlights brush to show some more details in my water and finished by upping the exposure of the entire image a hair and adding a very tiny amount of dehaze.

Next, let’s see some blue skies and clouds overhead. On this shot, I had some immediate foreground I wanted to show up a bit more than what my camera captured. I also wanted the sky to look as dramatic as what my eyes saw this morning. Let’s see what we can do.

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This image was a bit different, and I loved the direction my presets took me.

  1. 0-All In One – Dawn Rising
  2. 1-Base – Auto Tone {Color}
  3. 3-Color – Deep Blue Skies
  4. 4-Tone/Tint – Warm It Up

Between the Dawn Rising and the Auto Tone, I hit the color palette I was looking for, which was that early morning, dreary feeling before the clouds start to break apart on the ocean. The Deep Blue Skies added a beautiful, realistic blue up top. To finish this image, I used their adjustment brush, Effects – Cloudy Sky Definition. A small amount of this brush went a long way on my sky details.

Black and White

The Through the Woods workflow is also ideal for black and white processing. Let’s examine my shot of Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

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My first preset selection converted my image to black and white and from there:

  1. 0-All In One – Pressed in Time
  2. 1-Base – Auto Tone {B&W}
  3. 2-Exposure – More Highlights
  4. 5-Polish – Add Contrast

Although my results at this point were well on their way, I was still looking for some more oomph in the black and white processing. I achieved this by using a few brushes from the TtW set, which was, Basics – Contrast and Clarity, Effects – Cloudy Sky Definition (again, probably my favorite brush!), Light – Darken Shadows, and Light – Brighten Highlights.

From Flat to Dramatic

Let’s go in depth with one last shot. This was what should have been a dramatic capture, but it was just too flat out of the camera. That would change quickly, though, with the help of Sleeklens. My sunset, along with my wave crash, is about to come to life.

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It didn’t take much for me to take this flat shot and inject some of the colors that were in the sunset that night.

  1. 0-All in One – Calm Sunset
  2. 3-Color – Deep Blue Skies (which enhances my sky tones in this case)
  3. 5-Polish – Add Contrast
  4. 6-Vignette – Subtle Black

The only final thing I add was a global adjustment of pushing my blacks up to just introduce some slight definition into my rocks.

Final Thoughts

When it’s all said and done, the purpose of presets is to speed up your workflow and give you a headstart in the creativity department. And that’s exactly what you get with The Through the Woods Lightroom workflow for your landscape photography. This allows us more time in the field, some speed edits if the time calls for it, personal time, and time to promote ourselves if we’re professionals.

These plugins are also great if you are stuck with an edit, or looking for some creative ideas. Use these for starting points and see where your creativity takes you.

When you first install, there is a lot of presets and brushes at your disposal. I encourage you to spend some time to go through each and see what works best and where. It won’t take too long and you will know what preset work best with your type of scenes and moods.

Head on over and view Through the Woods Workflow

And if you shoot other genres, there’s a workflow for that too:

View all of the Sleeklens Lightroom Workflows

They can even help you with your advanced edits, as they offer Professional Photo Editing Services

I hope you enjoyed this Sleeklens review. Before you go, check out the last two before and after shots below. These are from my home state of Arizona. From the deserts near my backyard to the aspens up north. The shot with the aspens was quite dark and hard to deal with as a single exposure. You had sunlight from the clear sky above, but some very dark areas with all the trees below. On the desert mountain shot it was another flat image, but in no time I was able to eliminate the blandness of it and produce a well-lit capture.

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