I was contacted recently by sleeklens.com who asked me to put one of their plugin packs for Adobe Photoshop through its paces. They make plugins for all types of photography, particularly portraiture and architecture but they also have a pack designed for landscape photographers so it seemed appropriate to give that a try. I opted for the Photoshop version, although they do a Lightroom version of all their plugins too for those who like to keep their workflows just within the Lightroom environment.
Now I have to say at the outset that I am generally wary of pre-sets and plugins. I don’t create my own presets in Lightroom (except print templates which I find very useful for different paper sizes and orientations). I prefer to look at each image as a standalone artwork and decide how I feel it should look. I then start to make changes to move it in that direction. However, I do know other photographers who find it very useful to work with plugins to make basic, repetitive changes to images quickly or who create some ‘looks’ to images and what to save them so they can apply them to future photographs quickly, even though they may then go on to modify these slightly depending on each image. I also understand the needs of commercial photographers who want a consistent look across a range of images, such as wedding photographers. For such uses, presets and plugins are a boon both as time savers and for achieving a uniform feel to a collection of work. This can elevate a set of images and make for a lovely feel to photobooks and albums, rather than having radically different looks through a publication or exhibition set.
I also understand that for some, using plugins, especially those, like the Sleeklens plugins for Photoshop which allow you to then enter the layers and see what and how the changes have been made, are a great way of beginning to understand how a complex program like Photoshop is working. By then going in and making edits to the layers and making manual adjustments to the sliders you can learn from the experts like Sleeklens and grow in confidence as an image editor.
I do use the Nik plugin suite extensively, indeed, I would be lost without it. So I am definitely not anti-plugin, but I do believe in getting to know Lightroom and Photoshop so that we can make our own local and global adjustments with all of the tools at our disposal. This is essential to really get the best from our images. But for many of us time is short, our skills are just growing and so a set of actions like this Sleeklens set could be a real time saver and a great learning tool.
The set of actions loads very quickly and easily on both Windows and Mac machines, in Adobe CC or earlier versions of Lightroom and photoshop (or Adobe Photoshop Elements) and Sleeklens have a great and super easy to follow little video to show us how to do this. You can find it HERE. It is so simple even I could do it 😉 I was up and running in less than 2 minutes.
I had a very quick play with an unchanged raw file I sent from Lightroom over to Photoshop CC. I then decided to record a video as this would be the best way to show you the actions, in ‘action’. Here is the video, I hope you find it helpful and informative.
If you would like to try the Sleeklens plugins for yourself you can find the Landscape Adventure Pack I tried HERE. You can also find the other Photoshop actions HERE They also offer a photo editing service here.
If my video on how to use the Landscape Adventures Photoshop actions set baffled you, you will find a much more polished one here from the good people at Sleeklens HERE
I hope you find this useful. Enjoy!