Through the woods

“Through the woods” is a workflow for Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom that contains stacked presets and brushes. The package is the creation of SleekLens It has been designed for landscape photography and with modern digital solutions. Their preset bundles are perfect for beginners either first time processing images, or first time with Adobe Lightroom. The presets can help users learn about the Lightroom adjustment functions, so if you use these presets and carefully observe the adjustments, you can master the controls yourself. They are also useful for the busy professional to provide shortcuts in their workflow.

Magic cloth photography

Like the name suggests, the presets and brushes are there to assist you throughout your workflow. A workflow is a system that we naturally adopt for any task with many stages. A “workflow” is a habit we form to manage the simple stages of a complex task. The exciting possibilities of modern digital cameras mean that we can make the task as simple and as complicated as we like it. With a Lightroom preset and brush collection instantly available at every stage of your workflow, you simplify the complex again. You are always working at a level above yourself with the possibility of learning expert control of Lightroom.

Installing the workflow

I had to install the presets and brushes after downloading them. To do this you have to extract the files and follow their instructions to copy the correct files into the correct program files. A bit technical, but not too difficult if you can copy & paste and navigate around Windows folders.

Testing the workflow

I don’t normally finish images in Lightroom, so to test the ease of use, I started with a variety of images. I created virtual copies of each RAW image. Then I challenged myself to start from scratch and create different variations of each image.

Stjórnarfoss

I am starting with this image because it was processed in the shortest amount of time (10 seconds) with just 2 clicks in the “Through the Woods” preset panel.

This beautiful waterfall near Kirkjubærklaustur was shot on a rainy day with a 50mm prime. I was really close and composing deliberately tight. I exposed almost a full stop over because I wanted to catch some of the details on the rock. I wanted to bring out the detail in post processing. I knew the highlights were still good on the histogram.

Settings:

  • Canon 5D3
  • 50mm prime
  • 5 sec exposure.
  • f/11
  • 6 stop ND filter.

photography

nature photography

lightroom photography


Here you can see the presets ready to use in the left panel below the preview screen. Underneath you can see the history panel and the only entry is “imported from hard drive”. To the right of the photo the panels there is a histogram display. Here I can see that I have captured all the details in the highlights and shadows. This is good to check before you start.

Waterfall photography


My history panel proves that this was achieved with 2 clicks.

Hopefully you can see that I have achieved what I intended when I took the photograph. I have enhanced the detail with a natural contrast and strong colours (Dance in the rain), then I used a darken preset which reintroduced the highlights.

What is Lightroom?

Lightroom is a picture editor from Adobe. It complements CS Photoshop as an advanced RAW file editor, but also stands alone with it’s advanced picture editing controls. In modern digital photography, Lightroom is the only program on many photographer’s computers. It acts as a photo library, photo developer, photo presenter.

Lightroom presets

One great feature of Lightroom photo developer is the ability to save a lot of advanced processing commands as a “preset”. Then one click lets you instantly apply all these settings to any photo you choose. Lightroom has several build in “preset” that appear in the left panel in the photo developer.

Lightroom brushes

These same preset adjustments can also be loaded into the tools (in the right panel in develop). The settings can be applied to selective parts of an image using adjustment brushes, gradient filters and radial filters.

SleekLens – Walk through the woods

Sleeklens.com develops premium workflows for both Lightroom and Photoshop. The guys at SleekLens.com have created this collection of presets and plugins especially for Landscape photographers. They use “preset stacking” technology to give you complete control.

Walk through the woods – workflow

“Walk through the woods is a Preset and brushes collection. The presets can be stacked which means that you can add adjustments over the top of previous adjustments, similar to using “layers” in CS Photoshop. The presets contain all in one presets with a variety of picture styles. Then you can stack base adjustments (clarity and dynamic range), exposure adjustments, colour adjustments and finishing.

Northern Lights over Jökulsarlon.

Photos of Aurora Borealis can be stunning. Lets see if “Through the Woods” can do this Aurora capture justice.

RD7A0459-2copy

RD7A0459

Untitled-5 copy

My exposure is good, but it lacks contrast and clarity and the colours are a bit dull.

Lightroom Northern lights processing

Here I am adjusting the bottom of my photograph with a Contrast and Clarity brush.

Untitled-4 copy

My history shows that I clicked a few stacks in the presets panel and then added finishing touches with the graduated filter.

I love the results!

Lava field at Landmannalaugar

Landmannalauagr mountains have fantastically, smooth shapes and contours, whereas lava fields have ridiculously jagged edges. On this tour, we had light rain so the photography was about form and detail.

Landmannalaugar

Untitled-1 copy

This is the final version with preset and tool history etc …

RD7A0909-4

Landmannalaugar

lava field

My exposure is good, but it lacks contrast and clarity and the colours are a bit dull.

Here I started blindly from a fresh virtual RAW file. I was experimental and got a little lost but each result is comfortable in it’s own right.

Photoshop

For comparison, here is a similar shot put through my usual photoshop workflow.

LavaForest

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