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A couple of months back I was approached by representatives from Sleeklens and asked if I could test out some of their lightroom presets and leave a review.  It has taken me quite a while to get around to writing this as I have had a lot of jobs keeping me busy, but it did give me ample opportunity to try out these workflows.  So if anyone is interested in purchasing some presets to help make touching up their portraits a little easier then keep on reading.

To begin with the Sleeklens Strike a Pose collection for lightroom comes not only with a whole bunch of presets but a ton of different brushes - 69 presets and 62 brushes to be exact.  While I won't cover all of them in depth, I shall give a brief run down on both as well as show you a few examples where I have used them.  Let's get started shall we?

The presets: the All-In-One's

The Strike a Pose Workflow comes with 69 presets and just under half of these are what they call the "All-In'One" presets, where a simple click of the button completely transforms your photo.  These presets range from monochromes to soft, fantasy like presets but the vast majority are natural looking presets for a variety of situations - golden sunsets, cool dawns and soft settings perfect for newborns.  For a photographer like myself who specialises in natural photos, these presets are just what I'm looking for.  As you can see in the photos below, the camera couldn't quite capture the colours from this portrait taken at the beach at sunset - adding one of the sunset presets allowed the photo to really pop.

Little girl at the beach

The original was a little washed out

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Little girl at the beach

The original was a little washed out

The beach at sunset for this beautiful little girl

A "sunset" preset helped bring back some colour

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The beach at sunset for this beautiful little girl

A "sunset" preset helped bring back some colour

Like I said there are also some presets that are a little less natural such as high contrast or ones with a colour cast to give it almost a fantasy look.  While I do predominantly prefer a natural look for my photos, I do provide the odd artsy photo in case my clients would like something different.  The preset that I used for the photo below is called Violet Mazes, and I love using it for a soft fairy tale look for little kids - as you can see it has really transformed this photo from something fairly plain into something quite special.

Little girl portrait at home

The girl is adorable but this photo is honestly nothing special

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Little girl portrait at home

The girl is adorable but this photo is honestly nothing special

Magical style portrait of a little girl at home

By adding one of the presets the photo turns magical

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Magical style portrait of a little girl at home

By adding one of the presets the photo turns magical

The presets: the stackables

There is one thing that I like about the Sleeklens collection that I haven't seen in other preset collections I have purchased - the fact that you can pile presets on top of each other as they provide you with stackable presets.  Generally speaking, when you use a preset, if you try to use another, the settings from the new one override the previous, so if you like certain aspects of one that you wanted to add to another you would have to try and figure out a way to do it manually.  And as I mentioned previously, while roughly half of the presets provided are the "do it all" kind, the remaining half are what I like to call "building block" presets in that you can combine a whole bunch together to create the look you would like for you photo. 

There are six different categories that Sleeklens have created in these stackable presets: a Base set, Exposure, Colour Correction, Tone/Tint, Polish and Vignette, each providing a minor tweak in each of these areas.  One of my favourites is the Red Skin Removal preset, and for anyone interested in newborn photography this is definitely a preset that gets used a lot.  You can use these presets to add minor touches to the All-In-One presets that are provided (because let's face it, everyone has their own style and no preset is perfect) or if none of these suit your style and you want to build a photo up from scratch, you can use nothing BUT these presets to create whatever look you are going for.  This is what I did with the photo below - besides a few manual touchups to get the exact look I was going for, this entire photo was touched up using these layered presets.

Family photo in the bush

The original photo isn't too bad...

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Family photo in the bush

The original photo isn't too bad...

Family photo in the bush

But by playing around with a ton of presets I was able to make it pop

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Family photo in the bush

But by playing around with a ton of presets I was able to make it pop

The brushes

As I mentioned at the beginning, this package also comes with a set of brushes (62 in fact) for that last little 5% to make your photos perfect.  Because the presets are designed for portraits, they are of course portrait based, with bushes to enhance eyes, whiten teeth, reduce wrinkles or shadows under eyes - the list goes on.  All of these brushes are subtle effects, which is especially perfect for someone like myself who likes to keep my photos as natural as possible.  As you can see in the two adjacent photos, there isn't a huge difference between the two photos, but it's the little things that really help to make a photo have that extra bit of pop - some minor teeth whitening, brightening of the eyes and a slight reduction of the shadows under the eyes to really finish off the photo.

Mother and sun portrait on location in the bush

A gorgeous mum and bub shot...

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Mother and sun portrait on location in the bush

A gorgeous mum and bub shot...

Mother and sun portrait on location in the bush

Is made that little bit better with the use of a few simple brushes

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Mother and sun portrait on location in the bush

Is made that little bit better with the use of a few simple brushes

My conclusions

So after playing around with a lot of these workflows that Sleeklens have provided, and observing some of the examples that I have provided, I am sure anyone interested in these presets are probably asking two simple questions: What is the price and are they worth it?

At the moment of writing this, you can buy the Strike a Pose package for $31 (AUD).  Do I think it is worth spending the money?  Considering that in this bundle you recieve 69 presets and 62 brushes  I think that is certainly value for money, especially for a photographer who specialises in natural looking photos.  Since obtaining this workflow for trial I have found that, despite owning other presets that I have purchased over the years, when it comes to touching up these ones are my go to.  Sure I may end up tweaking them a little bit, but it certainly helps to cut down the amount of time I spend touching up when I have a base to start with.

If you have been in the photography business for a while, you have probably accumulated and created a variety of presets that suits your style, but if you are a photographer who hasn't quite mastered the art of lightroom just yet and would like to cut down on the time you spend touching up, then purchasing a few presets certainly helps you to find your feet.  And if you are interested in buying a set of presets, then I would definitely recommend giving the Sleeklens Strike a Pose workflow a go.  If you would like to give it a try, then you can purchase the workflow from the Sleeklens website here: https://sleeklens.com/product/strike-a-pose-portrait-workflow/

And if anyone has used these before and would like to share their thoughts (or thoughts on any other preset bundles you might have tried that you think are top notch) then please feel free to leave a comment below and share your opinions with others!

This entry was posted in Information, My thoughts by Leyna Ripley | Leave a Comment
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December 17, 2018, 6:13 am
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