I was honored to be asked to review Sleeklens.com‘s Forever Thine wedding workflow last week. After playing with it for some of my more recent weddings I find many of the tools to be useful, particularly their included brushes for local edits. My personal editing style is to make the image look its best without it looking overly processed. For a few of the bridal portraits I may convert them to black and white, or edit them so that they are more dramatic for a beautiful fine art canvas. Overall, what I am always looking for is a preset that can be applied to a large percentage of my properly exposed images that will “JPG-ify” my RAW images nicely. I want that crisper, ever so slightly processed look that would come out if I shot it in JPG in the camera, while still maintaining the ability to tweak things the way I want after in post. A one size fits all preset will never exist, as there are always different lighting conditions to contend with, some images are underexposed, some are perfectly exposed, and some are overexposed. Some are backlit, high key, or low key. Additionally venues and dresses, and even different couples, lend themselves better to different editing styles (more contrast, or less, warmer, or cooler tones, natural light vs. flash, etc). So I like to have several different JPG-ifying presets in my arsenal. I found “At the Chapel” and “Soft Dream” to fit the bill well. “Best Man” works particularly well if your images are slightly underexposed.
The following images I intentionally shot underexposed on the day of the wedding so that I could retain some of the blue of the sky. The first image in each sequence is straight out of camera, the second is applying the “Best Man” preset, and the third is how I personally edited it myself after many steps of editing. If the image wasn’t one of my favorites from the day, the single click “Best Man” preset probably would have done the trick. But for my favorite images, I still would tweak them individually.
The Exposure presets included in the workflow are useful, but could stand to have a few more small tweak adjustments instead of only having 1 full stop adjustments available for exposure correction. Most of my images are maybe a third stop over exposed or under exposed, not anywhere near a full stop. The color correction tools for skin tones are great to try as a quick global adjustment fix first instead of having to jump right to a local adjustment. The rest of the preset collection is great if you have clients that want that highly processed “artsy”, “retro vintage”, or “romantic” look to their images. That just isn’t really my client base though.
What really helps SleekLens’ presets stand out from many others I have seen is their naming conventions. Often LR presets are all just named indiscriminately with fun names, so you are left fumbling to remember which preset, among hundreds, you want to use to get the chosen effect. Not so with SleekLens. They have brilliantly labeled all the presets and brushes with descriptive categories so that you can more easily find the effect you want, instead of just relying on hovering over the preset and looking at the tiny preview window.
The brushes are great in that they are already perfectly set for typical wedding related issues, bringing out details in tuxes, lowering highlights in dresses, bringing up the brightness of the dress, etc, and they are labeled as such. This is nice because instead of just arbitrarily selecting highlights and then painting on the effect and then sliding it until it is right, generally the brush settings are pretty darn close to start with to what I would need in the end. Making local edits even faster is the biggest time saver this workflow affords you in my opinion.