Howdy all! The good folks over at Sleeklens reached out to me and asked me to review their Landscape Adventure Workflow for Photoshop. I gladly obliged since I’m always on the lookout for ways to optimize and streamline my post processing workflow. As a nature and landscape photographer, post-processing is an integral part in bringing out the vision I have for an image. For me, a third of the work is done in pre-visualizing the final image, another third of the work is done in the field getting the right composition and exposing the image properly, and the final third of the work lies in bringing out the the vision you have in mind through post-processing.
Personally, I use presets as a way to explore possibilities. Presets serve as a quick way to see how an image would look if you went a certain way. While I don’t rely on presets to completely process my image from start to finish, I use them selectively to bring out a specific aspect of the image I’m working on. With that said, let’s get started and have a look at the Sleeklens collection.
Setup and Appearance
My copy of the collections came with a recipe pdf which contains some ideas you could try out for your images, installation instructions and the photoshop actions themselves. For trying out the collection, I used Adobe Photoshop CC. Disclaimer : I haven’t tried out the collection with the perennial license version of Adobe Photoshop (CS 6 and older).
Installing the collection was a cinch. Sleeklens have a useful video which explains the process in detail which I’ve referenced below.
After installing the collection, I fired up Photoshop CC to try it out. The first thing that I noticed was that there wasn’t an easy access GUI like some of the other actions I’ve used previously such as the Tony Kuyper Action Panel. Upon opening the actions tab in Photoshop, I noticed that the collection from Sleeklens was available there, and it was very neatly organized. The entire collection of 56 actions is divided into 8 sections. Each section performs a specific type of adjustment to the image such as adjusting exposure, adding in tonality or stylizing the image. Further, the sections are organized in order of how one might process a photo:
4. All in One
8. Web File Preparation
Below is an image of how the collection looks in photoshop.
Here is a closer look at the panel.
As you can see, each action within each section has a descriptive name that clearly indicates what the action would do to an image.
Ease of Use
One of the things that is critical to most photographers (myself included) is the ease with which a new tool can be used and integrated into a workflow. In that respect, the Sleeklens actions are certainly easy to use and the results they generate are quite simple to modify. Upon running an action from the collection, a new group is generated which contains one or more adjustment layers. The opacity of these adjustment layers can be modified allowing you full control on how much or how little of an adjustment you would like to see applied to your image. These can be further refined using layer masks as is common practice in Photoshop. I tried out a variety of combinations and was pleasantly surprised at the results. The actions in general tend to be a bit heavy handed in terms of the magnitude of the adjustment(s) they make, but it’s quite simple to refine and bring them down to your taste based on the method I mentioned above.
Personally, I use and swear by a non-destructive workflow where I can go back at any stage to any adjustment I made and alter it without having to duplicate all the steps leading up to that over and over again. Unfortunately, with the Sleeklens actions this is currently not possible. Each action tends to create a new layer (by stamping Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E) and then applies the adjustment layers on top of this. I believe one of the reasons it does so is because it may be accessing the Camera RAW filter in Photoshop CC and then add adjustment layers on top of it. Therefore, it is impossible to maintain a non-destructive workflow with the current version of the collection.
Here is a useful video from Sleeklens which shows how to use the panel :
Here are some examples where I used the Sleeklens landscape actions for bringing out my creative vision while editing.
Overall, the collection has a wide variety of actions which could speed up your editing workflow. I particularly like the actions which enhance sunset/sunrise. The lack of a GUI and the inability to edit non-destructively using the collection are my two main gripes. I hope that Sleeklens will address these issues in the future. The collection currently retails for $40 on their website. If you’re in the market for something to spice up your editing game, go on over to Sleeklens website and check this action panel out!