Sleeklens Lightroom Presets Workflow Review
I was recently asked by the folks at Sleeklens to provide a review of their “Aura Laborar” presets and brushes plugin for Lightroom.
Sleeklens is a company located in Denmark that offers a wide variety of post processing options for Lightroom, Photoshop and Luminar. They offer preset/brush combination workflows for everything from landscape to wedding, portrait and food photography…and at a very affordable price.
The “Aura Laborar” workflow is designed to enhance tone and sharpen your landscapes with the focus being on dramatic skies and night photography.
There are 122 presets and 10 brushes that become part of your Lightroom workflow after an incredibly easy download process.
The presets and brushes are applied in exactly the same way as you would apply them in Lightroom. They can be found in the Lightroom preset module and in the adjustment brush module.
The 122 presets fall into several categories, All in one, Basic, Base, Black & White, Color processing, Vintage and Lights.
While the All in one preset impacts the entire photo, the brushes can be used to impact a specific area of your photo.
The Adjustment brushes are applied by selecting the desired effect and painting over the area of the photograph that you want to impact.
The presets are stackable so if you are feeling especially creative then feel free to stack as many as you want.
Also, when you apply a preset it is basically moving all of the Lightroom sliders in the panel workflow module so if you don’t like how it looks or want to make some subtle adjustments, you still have the ability to do so. You always have complete control.
My Initial thoughts
I typically like to work my photos from top to bottom and make my adjustments at each part of my normal Lightroom workflow, so I was a bit hesitant to use global adjustments from a preset……but the Sleeklens “Through the Woods” presets convinced me that there can be a great time savings to post process, while serving the needs of my artistic vision.
Deciding on a base preset is easy. Hold your cursor over each preset to get an idea of how it will impact the photo. This is a good starting point and can help determine what the photo needs to improve it or give it the artistic vision that you are looking for.
When I first started doing digital post processing I would have never considered using presets but I now see how valuable they can be for starting a base. Rolling through the Sleeklens presets can produce some very artistic results, ones that you may have never imagined.
There are always photos that deserve a more artistic look and the Sleeklens presets are perfect for those. I did an earlier review on the “Through the Woods” presets from Sleeklens and found that they promote a more realistic impact while the Aura Laborar presets, in my opinion, promote a more artsy effect.
Bring in the brushes to fine tune regional areas of the photo, make some additional adjustments using the Lightroom options…and you’re done.
You can make your adjustments with RAW or JPEG images. Stick with RAW as they provide more manipulative options.
My first photo of a lighthouse on Lake Superior was taken on a cold overcast day. I did not want to blow out the highlights so I underexposed the photo.
I started my workflow by applying the “Color Splash” (all in one) preset which added great definition to the sky, popped a little color and opened up the shadows. The only adjustment I made was to open the shadows a bit more, but that was it. It took all of 30 seconds and produced a more appealing and realistic version of what I was actually seeing when taking the picture.
My second photo of the Milky Way was dull and didn’t provide the pop that I had envisioned. I found that the “Winter Afternoon” preset gave me a good base. From there all I did was up the exposure a little and add some vibrancy. Once again, all it took was 30 seconds to greatly improve the photo.
My third photo was taken on Lake Superior at 3am. A photographer friend and I were shooting the lighthouse against the night sky. To show you the artistic impact of a Sleeklens filter, I selected the “Let the sunshine in” preset. The only adjustment I made was to reduce the noise.
Even though I prefer total control over the creative process, I found that the Sleeklens presets and brushes were a true asset to my workflow. Depending on my vision, some of the presets were spot on or at worst, required minor adjustments. They provided me with a great starting point and saved me the many hours that it would have taken me to create them on my own.
The additional adjustment brushes also are value added from a time and vision perspective.
Another plus is that you can take their presets, make minor adjustments and create your own set of customized presets. The great thing is that they have done all of the hard work for you.
The Aura Laborar and Through the Woods Lightroom plugins are something that I will definitely use going forward. I can see it becoming an important part of my normal workflow. It allows you to explore creative vision while saving time…something that I never seem to have enough of.
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