A few weeks ago, I was approached by Sleeklens to try out their Forever Thine wedding workflow Lightroom presets and write an honest review of my thoughts.
Now until I received their email, I confess I had never heard of Sleeklens before. But sure I thought. I’ve never reviewed Lightroom presets before either but happy to share my thoughts. Just as long as they were happy for me to write freely about my experience. Both good or bad. They confirmed that I was completely free to write whatever I wanted. With that in mind, here goes:
What you Get
For the princely sum of $31, you get 112 Lightroom presets and 23 adjustment brushes. Not too shabby at all! As the name of the bundle suggests, these are aimed really at wedding photographers who are looking to speed up their editing time.
The presets and brushes work on Lightroom 4 or later including Lightroom CC. Instructions are provided for both Mac and PC users. I had no problems at all in following the instructions and they were soon installed on my iMac.
There’s a few basic tutorial videos on their website which help you get started with their tools.
How To Use Them
As the name suggests, whilst these are essentially Lightroom presets, they’ve been laid out in such as way that Sleeklens are trying to improve the speed of your editing by giving you a series of presets which can ‘stack’ together (ie. Add together) to give you the final result you desire. Ie. Workflow.
So for example. You can start off with 1 – Base preset which gives you a certain ‘look’. As usual they have been given suitable names such as ‘Antique Tone’ which gives you quite a cold antique look to a more subtle ‘Morning Coffee’ look.
Which you use is down to personal taste. Once you’ve selected a base, you can tweak your image further by using other presets to make further adjustments such as increasing exposure by a stop or opening up the shadows etc. The order is fairly logical. Base, exposure, color correct, tone/tint, polish and finally vignette. The rest are categories of presets to give you particular styles.
Also included are 23 lightroom brushes which do the following:
1. Fix Green Skin
2. Fix Red Skin
3. Brighten Eyes
4. Define Hair
5. Enhance Eyes
6. Sharpen Face
7. Soften Skin
8. Whiten Teeth
9. Neutral haze
10. Add golden sun
11. Bright shade light
12. Brighten highlights
13. Brighten shadows
14. Darken shadows
16. Reduce highlights
17. Bright wedding dress
18. Clarity & detail
19. Dark wedding tuxedo
20. Fix overexpose
21. Fix underexpose
22. Shiny & bright
23. Slightly desaturate
The names are mostly pretty self explanatory as to what they do (more on this later). Each are supposed to help you if you feel your photo needs that particular local adjustment. So for example if your bride has red skin, the ‘fix red skin’ brush will help make that look better.
As an experienced wedding photographer who shoots around 60 weddings a year, I’ve already got a very streamlined workflow. I’ve built up my own personal collection of presets over the years. Adapting some from others but mainly making my own. When I first heard about the Sleeklens set, I thought ‘oooh a dedicated set for wedding photographers’
My first impression was that the presets were sadly…not good. Many of the presets were simply not to my tastes. Here are a few examples. The first is how I would usually edit my images. Very clean and ‘normal’.
There simply wasn’t one in the set which I thought I could work with and tweak.
Some of the develop presets seemed very basic and barely worth it. For example “Exposure +1. Finding such a basic preset in a paid bundle just makes it feel like they’ve just bundled a few extras in to bulk out the pack a bit. I’ve seen others which have far more such presets and organised into a more comprehensive workflow system. This just seemed a bit sparse and half hearted.
Onto the adjustment brushes. My first impression of those were better. There are brushes there which seemed to be genuinely useful for a wedding photographer. Sharpening faces, fixing skin tone issues. Enhancing eyes, etc.
As I played with the brushes more, I did notice that the “Forever Thine – Soften Skin” and “Forever Thine – Fix White Teeth” brushes have the exact the same as the default Lightroom settings. Happy to be corrected if I am wrong. In which case again it seems like some were added in just to bulk the pack out.
A couple of the brush names seemed a bit vague. So for example “Clarity & Detail” Are you adding or removing? Answer: The latter.