Recently the people over at Sleeklens gave me their Landscape Essentials workflow bundle to check out. The bundle was offered to me free of charge in an exchange for a review of the product. This bundle includes dozens of preconfigured Lightroom presets that are intended to cut down on image processing time. After downloading, installation only took a few minutes and their instructions were simple. All images seen below were shot on the Canon 5D mark 3. It's also worth noting that these were all shot in RAW. Jpegs will not be as forgiving to adjustments in post as the RAW images are. Here are some of the results:
This image was processed by stacking the "Deep Blue Skies" and "Color Pop" presets. Additionally I brushed out some of the highlights and scaled back the "Color Pop" attributes just a tad. Nice results, processing time approx 30 seconds.
On this next one I just applied the "Autumn Color" preset. No further editing was required. I noticed this preset works way better on bringing out more subtle tones. I tried it on an actual photo of fall foliage and the result was way over the top.
Next we have the "Shine into Sunset" preset. This one wasn't perfect out of the gate but with some minor additional tweaking I had a finished image in under a minute. I pulled down the shadows, blacks, and sharpness manually after applying the preset.
For this next example, I picked a drab photo to see what I could do with it. The "Punchy" preset seemed promising. It's application proved slightly too punchy, but I very easily tweaked it back. I also stacked "Deep Blue Skies" again which is probably my favorite preset thus far. As you can see, it rescued some sky for me. Nice results.
Huge difference in the next one. Just stacked "Brighten Shadows" and "Cinematic". I really wanted the cinematic filter to work, but wasn't having much luck until I applied it to this one. Very quick editing job, yet very effective.
My findings below...
This Landscape essentials package came with a ton of presets and brushes. I really only scratched the surface of them after playing with them for a couple of days. There are certainly some fun and effective options in here for reducing editing time. Installing and using these are very easy.
Some of these presets look great until you actually view the photo at 100%. If you're printing or posting high-res images, you need to really pay attention to the details. Occasionally a preset will be very heavy handed with the shadows or saturation and you will end up with a ton of noise or color aberration. These issues can be mitigated by further tweaking of the regular lightroom tools, but it will cost you more editing time. I personally did not like some of the more extreme presets. There are a few that try to emulate film stocks by putting washes over your image, I think these look way too unnatural but some people might like them for the very reasons I didn't.
It's hard to have any universal expectations of how some of these are going to work. A preset that works great for a particular photo may not work well for a similar photo. Not really an issue as you can just undo any application in no time. Some presets will utilize "Lens Corrections" to transform the shape of the photo. If this produces an undesirable effect, simply go to lens corrections, basic, and uncheck "Enable Profile Corrections".
I think if you like working with presets and don't enjoy doing everything from scratch, you'll probably have fun with these. If you're cranking out a lot of stylized images, these could potentially save you some time. Also, if you're new to lightroom and perhaps a little intimidated, these may provide some added comfort because they do a lot of work for you, and you're still able to fine tune from there. That said, I still very much enjoy taking my time to craft an image manually. I'll leave you with one more example below and thank you to Sleeklens for letting me try these out!
Alex Shure: SCUBA enthusiast, fish nerd, camera guy.