Sleek lens offered me recently the “through the woods” presets for Lightroom.
In order to give a fair review I would like to give a little background information about myself so you know how I have evaluated this product.
I made landscapes on my Linhoff Technorama film camera (http://linhof.com/en/technorama-617s/), I was the first photographer in New Zealand to use this camera . As it uses transparencies on a film format of 6 x 17 cm on 120 film you have to be very careful making your photographs as it only takes four images on one film. Everything was carefully considered before making the photograph as it was imperative to get the right image on film you could not afford to take 10 or 15 images as people do now with the digital format cameras and stitch them together in a panoramic format.
Hence all my landscapes are made when the light is just perfect, everything is fine, nothing needs to be changed (photo shopped) as the transparency is the final result for my landscape image that will be printed in a book.
Now, in this digital age we can make images of landscapes when the light is not just exactly the way we wish it to be, we have so manyEdit tools available to make the photograph look good or better after capturing the scenery. Hence the abundance of perfect looking landscapes on the Internet, all the trees are gloriously lit with the perfect brightness and contrasts, water looks like you want it to look, the skies are moody or fantastic et cetera. Most of these perfect images are so perfect that I have not any interest in looking at them they are not real. Not saying all images are like that, there are exceptions. But the majority of published landscapes on the Internet are very flawless and lack emotional integrity.
Hence my reluctance using presets or any other preconceived settings to change the light or contrasts. In my workflow, I adjust the contrast, fine tune the exposure, lighten or darken certain areas and that is about it because my image is already the way I want it to look. I do not make landscapes when the light is not right, so there is no need for me to add some glorious sunlight or other shadings. Haze, and all those other things I do not need because they falsify my landscape.
However as a photographer I have those tools available to me in case if I need so I was quite interested to receive the Sleek Lens Presets for lightroom workflow for this review.
Easy to instal , and then the trouble started. The naming convention of these presets is very space consuming, the names start with “through the woods” (the name of the preset set I received) and then an indication of what it does, lighten dark and saturate et cetera. So it is a very long name with a lot of information that absolutely says nothing about the functional action of the preset itself.
I can’t recall exactly all the names but they were very long. So I renamed all these presets deleted all the ” through the woods” and other prefixes and just call them light and dark and saturate et cetera whatever the function was of the preset.
All these presets were placed in a sleek lens folder preset so I knew that I was using a sleek lens preset. I did this because when you want to find out what the sleek lens preset effect was, I had to increase the width on the left panel where the presets are presented in lightroom. Of course you can hover with your mouse or pen over the preset and the navigator will show you the effect of the preset.
Not easy for me, holding your mouse over one line of words and then looking up into the navigator panel to see what it does, that is not efficient. The same with the adjustment brush, the name of the presets from sleek lens were also far too long with too many prefixes that were absolutely not necessary, I renamed all the preset names into one word that defined the action of the preset, which was actually the last word of the preset name of sleek lens.
To test the presets out: I had a few plain landscapes that actually could do with some enhancement. When I looked at these images I knew what I wanted to add, colour, contrast, a deepening of the blue sky. It was easier for me to actually do this with my own brushes and creating my own adjustments instead of looking through all these presets to find if there was something that would do what I wanted.
Pro: Excellent presets, very versatile, you could stack them, you could change them, you could save the altered one and so on. And some nice effects that possibly would not easily exist in nature.
Con: The naming convention of the presets is far too long.If you sell a tool, it has to work efficiently. Change the names of the presets.
If you make landscapes taken at a time that the light is not perfect, the scenery does not look at its best, then these presets will work very fine for you, you rummage around and you will find many delightful settings that will make your image pop like all the other thousands on the Internet. I could imagine as a wedding photographer you could very happily use these presets as you have to make images outdoors in light conditions that are not always optimal .
Many thanks to the sleek lens company for providing me with these presets for this review. Here is a link to Sleek Lens: (https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/ and https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets
Some spelling mistakes came through through a software problem, apologies.