Sleeklens Photoshop Actions Review

Sleeklens Photoshop Actions Review

The Beach at Flakstad: Image made January 23, 2017

A few weeks ago the folks at Sleeklens reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to review one of their products, a set of Sleeklens Photoshop Actions called the “Landscape Adventure Collection.”*

 

Although I agreed to do it, frankly I was skeptical.  I’ve been pitched other similar “labor saving” shortcuts in the past.  I’ve been provided some for free, others I’ve purchased based on the promise that using it would save my most precious resource (my time).  But in the end I’ve always “dabbled and then deleted.”  None have ever lived up to the hype.  (I’m talking about you, Aurora HDR.)

I expected my Sleeklens experience would go much the same.  I’d use it, I’d try to like it, but in the end I’d conclude I could do things manually just as quickly and with more creative control than using the product.  That’s how it has always gone before, and I fully expected that at the end of this experiment I’d be deleting the actions, only to write a review where I tried hard not to be too cruel.

For this Sleeklens experiment, I started with an image from my January trip to Lofoten, Norway, one I really wanted to like, but one that just didn’t have that “oomph” I was looking for:

The beach at Flakstad.

Lofoten, Norway

What you see isn’t what you get

This is pretty much what every photo looks like straight out of the camera (at least those that are executed well technically).  Colorless, lifeless, flat, uninspiring.

So I figured, let’s see what how Sleeklens could help me punch up this photo.  I fired up good old Photoshop, decided what I needed to do to fix the photo, conjured up the Sleeklens actions, and immediately found a few that sounded interesting.

After using Sleeklens to correct tonality and local contrast, I pulled up the “vivid pastel painting” action, and voila!  Instantly I had a much more interesting photo.

I used a couple more actions to recreate the drama in the sky that I saw the day I took the picture, a few to correct the color cast (if you read my other posts you already know a camera’s sensor alters colors based on sky conditions: cloudy, sunny, etc), then I did some final contrast adjustments, and I was done.  Twenty minutes, tops!

And the result

is the image at the top of the page.

Of course I focus my website and blog on those interested in fine art photography, not on photographers themselves (there are plenty of websites devoted to photographers), so if you aren’t a photographer you may be thinking “you mean you spent twenty minutes finishing that photo?”

My answer would be, “Yes, and that’s a darn sight better than the two hours or so I normally spend finishing a photo!”  That means the Sleeklens actions did help me save my most precious resource.

Is the product perfect? No.  In particular, I found the instruction videos a bit austere.  There are over 50 actions here, I could have used a better description of what each of them does.  And there are some actions included in the package that I doubt I will ever use.

But my initial concerns about the product turned out to be wrong. This isn’t a product that I will dabble and discard.  I’ve already made it a permanent addition to my Photoshop Actions pallet.

The actions can be found at sleeklens.com.

If you are an Adobe Lightroom user, Lightroom tutorials can be found at sleeklens.com/lightroom-tutorials/

Lightroom presets at sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets

My conclusion is that this product is well worth the price, and I do highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: they provided me the actions for free, asking only that I provide my honest opinion in my review.  (Dear Sleeklens people: providing my honest opinion is never something you have to worry about.)

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Product Review Disclaimer

Product Review Disclaimer

So here is my product review disclaimer.  I’m happy to do product reviews.

I don’t expect this to happen often, because this website is tailored for photograph and print consumers, not for photographers.  Nevertheless, I’ve recently been asked to do a few product reviews, so I find it necessary to articulate my ethical standard up front.

When I do product reviews I will clearly state if I’ve been compensated in any way for the review (although I expect that to rarely happen).

For instance, I’m a Nikon user (at least for the moment), because I regard the D810 as the best landscape camera in the world below medium format size and price.  I know Sony users will quibble with this characterization, citing the A7R II, and I agree the A7R is a great camera with a sensor about as good as the D810’s.  But the feature set on the D810 (available lenses, shutter speed, time-lapse, ease of use) for me, still makes the D810 preferred, at least at this moment in time. Similarly, the Nikon D5 is about as good as it gets for low light, wildlife, and sports.  I make these statements having paid full price for all my Nikon equipment.  In fact, the only time I have ever been compensated by Nikon was for an article that ran in Nikon Asia magazine, and that was done only AFTER I purchased all my equipment (again, at full price).

I have recently been asked to review a couple of products, which as I say, I am happy to do.  When these products have been provided to me free of charge for purposes of my review, I will say so. After all, it’s only reasonable for a company that wants me to review their product provide it to me at no cost.

But if I remain silent on the matter, you can assume it is a product I purchased for my own use.

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