Sleeklens offers a variety of presets and actions for Lightroom and Photoshop. These are, for those who are new to photo editing, shortcuts that help photographers attain a specific look to their images without having to go through a series of steps over and over again.
The Sleeklens Strike a Pose Portrait Workflow for Lightroom comes with a ton of presets, some of which are black and white, but most of which are color. They are stackable, which means that you can run one preset and then run a different one afterwards to more dramatically alter the image.
Downloading and installing the presets was a breeze- Sleeklens offers short videos that walk through the process- it only takes a few minutes. They also have a serious of videos that demonstrate a few selected presets and how they can be used. I watched all of them and found them extremely helpful.
One problem that I have with presets is that when presented with a long list of them in a drop-down menu I really have no idea which ones to try on my photo. But the videos help because you can see which presets they tried on, say, a portrait taken in overcast lighting with grass in the background. Then you can envision what it would look like on your similar images.
The Strike a Pose Workflow that I received included several presets in the following categories: "All in Ones," Base Edits, Exposure, Color Correct, Tone/Tint, Polish, and Vignette. Tone/Tint warm up is good for skin tones when shooting in the shade. Base Edit 2 is a good overall starting place with nearly any RAW photo because it appears to increase contrast and boost colors- basically bringing your RAW image back to what it would have looked like shot in JPG.
After playing around with the presets and trying them out on a variety of my images I have discovered that my favorites are the ones that are the most subtle: the Color Correct- Fix Green Skin and Color Correct- Fix Red Skin. Achieving beautiful and consistent skin tones across and entire gallery (and across different lighting conditions) is a huge part of my workflow- so these two particular presets are especially helpful. I do find that I end up tweaking the white balance even further with most photos, but they definitely get things going in the right direction.
As you can see, the "Fix Green Skin" preset removed quite a bit of the green tones in her skin caused by all that light reflected off the nearby vegetation.
Here you can see how the "Fix Red Skin Tones" preset pulled quite a bit of red out. This can be especially useful if you shoot portraits near brick walls.
Quite a lot of my photography is portraits shot at sunset where I’m nearly shooting into the sun. I love the romantic look this creates, and the solar flare, but I would also appreciate some help with the resultant haze, loss of contrast, and color. Thus far, my best results involve pulling the images into Photoshop and using levels, which seem to do a better job than Lightroom’s tone curve. Unfortunately I haven’t found a preset in this pack that seems designed for these particular shooting conditions. But it’s possible that I just need to stack a few of them together. It also might be something that's part of their "Chasing Light" package. They do offer, however, several different presets within Portrait Essentials that help boost the warm golden glow of a sunset if you want to add that to your image.
When I downloaded my Sleeklens presets I was pretty excited to try them out but it turns out that the brushes that also came with the pack were the actual game changer for me.
Lightroom comes with pre-loaded brushes, and it’s also possible to create your own for things you use over and over again. But the Sleeklens “Strike a Pose” brushes do things that I didn’t even realize were possible in Lightroom and solve some Lightroom-inherent problems that people have been complaining about forever.
Case in point: the Fix Red Skin brush. Ruddy complexions, cold noses & hands in winter, and blotchy/acne prone skin all need to be addressed when editing portraits. And up until now the only way I knew how to reduce red in Lightroom would reduce the reds for the entire image- including peoples’ lips! So the only real way to deal with this was to use a masking layer in Photoshop to selectively remove the red from parts of the image.
Sleeklens’s Fix Red Skin brush makes this a total snap. No need for photoshop or layers- just brush over the area that needs help. Interestingly, you can see what’s going on: the brush is actually applying a shade of pale green to counterbalance the red. And if one pass-over isn’t enough you simply hit “Done,” open the bush again, and paint over it another time. I absolutely love this new brush and it alone has been a huge time saver for me.
Another brush that I’m using a lot now is the Strike a Pose “Define Blond Hair” brush. When applied over blond hair this brush applies a light yellow color layer that subtly brightens it up. You can also selectively paint over a person’s highlights to emphasize them. This is an especially great tool to use on wavy blond hair because if you only paint over the parts that naturally catch the light it makes the hair look especially shiny and healthy.
If you are interested playing around with Sleeklens’s presets and brushes, they currently offer a free starter pack.
In general, if you want to do most of your edits in Lightroom, or are a person who finds working with layers in Photoshop to be intimidating, the Sleeklens workflow bundles could really help you take your portrait work to the next level. And for anyone who enjoys before and afters (I know I do) you can check out a ton of them on Sleeklens's pinterest page.
*Sleeklens provided the Strike a Pose Portrait Workflow to Samantha Grant Photography for a fair and honest review, which I believe that I provided. If you have any questions about my experiences using this collection, feel free to send me an email.
When we were planning her photoshoot Bella mentioned to me that she would love to incorporate flowers. This presented a bit of a challenge, given that it was early November, but I suggested that we start out at Alden Lane Nursery because they pretty much always have something in bloom. I love shooting at Alden Lane; the people there are *so nice.* They always tell me that I'm free to move anything around for the shot, and go out their way to accommodate photography. Sure enough, for Bella's photoshoot they had plenty of flowers and were crazy nice, as always.
This trimester Bella is taking a sci fi lit class where they not only get to read the Hobbit but also get to watch all the Star Wars movies. "It must be really hard to get into that class!" I exclaimed. "I mean, wouldn't everybody want to take it?" But she said she just signed up for it, no problem. One of her other classes is an internship at Kaiser, which sounds pretty perfect since she intends to major in nursing at Ole Miss.
After a bit at Alden Lane we headed over to Shadow Cliffs to catch the sunset.
Between her four classes she's done with school at 2pm (sweet!). But Bella's still pretty busy; she works at Bent Creek Winery helping out with the back room stuff and she also leads a bible study group for 7th grade girls at Cornerstone Fellowship.
During her free time Bella plays the guitar and and enjoys reading and writing poetry. I'm so happy that she brought her guitar to her photoshoot-- I feel like the images of her playing really capture the heart of who she is.
I'm so excited to see you in the spring, Bella, with all of your Ole Miss stuff for your mini shoot! It's going to be a ton of fun!
Because she joined my brand representative team I've had the pleasure of photographing Adelle several times this past year. But this shoot was different because it was her actual senior portrait, designed and produced to showcase her unique style and personality. During the shoot we talked about college and I just found out that she was accepted to her top pick: Oregon State. Way to go Adelle!
To her session Adelle brought a pair of beautiful turquoise earrings. She also wanted to make sure to get some shots in her letterman's jacket to celebrate her tenure on the cheer squad.
Durring her session we talked about all of her exciting upcoming plans: a trip to Costa Rica, a resolution to dye her hair pink (which she did the very night of this photoshoot!) and the intent to get a tattoo when she turns 18 in March. The design she picked out is this beautiful flower and symbol that represents internal peace and tranquility.
Here are a few of my favorites of Adelle from prior shoots. We've had a blast this year finding all sorts of unique locations for shoots and chasing the sun! Thanks for joining my team this year, Adelle! It was wonderful to get to know you!
"They're always super fun and exciting, right!!?!?" I exclaimed, dripping with sarcasm. Katherine was much nicer in describing the school board meetings she has attended. As a member of a club on campus whose goal is to improve student life, she's made an effort to create meaningful change. This group is attempting to get AVHS to reform their expulsion policy. And at the school board meetings Katherine has proposed that the student reps not merely have the right to attend the meetings but have actual voting power. She did tell me that she's interested in possibly majoring in chemistry, but might I suggest taking some poly sci? I'm thinking politics might not be a bad route to consider, Katherine...
Speaking of chemistry, Katherine is taking 3 AP classes right now, including BC calc. As a person who was completely mentally drained by AB calc (those related rate problem- ugh! I still have nightmares about water flowing into and out of a bathtub at different rates. Not even kidding.) I can really appreciate what this means. She's also doing lacrosse in the spring.
Katherine's dream school is UCLA and she's applying to a bunch of other California schools but she's also applying in Colorado because they have a merit based scholarship for $15K! Who knew? (Well, she did...I didn't.)
For the record, Katherine's photoshoot started, continued, and ended with a bit of weirdness. At the get go we had to relocate because there was an enormous running race happening at the original venue. Once we got to the new location and started shooting a totally random police car drove down the trail...really slowly...right behind her. And they shouted, "We'll make a nice backdrop for you!" Thanks guys. And then as we were wrapping up, we noticed cat after cat after cat amassing around us. Dusk was setting in and after about 5 minutes of chatting there were probably around 7 cats hanging out on a nearby driveway. "A cat party." she declared. Totally.
For Sophia's photoshoot we did our pre-session consultation, like always, and she sketched out a few ideas for her outfits. But I have to say that I had no idea (based on what she described) how cute her looks would turn out. But you'll see...In the mean time, let me actually tell you about Sophia.
Sophia volunteers at Sage Veterinary Hospital because she'd like to be a vet. "The vets there are super nice," she explained. Total roll models. They've actually allowed her to do observations in the operating room. "How is that?" I asked. "It sounds like it could be intense?"
"The first time I nearly passed out," she admitted. But after that it was fine. Her plan is to go to either U of O or OSU and major in general science before going to vet school.
Sophia was on the cheerleading team this fall but is super excited to have more free time now that it's over. She's got time to go to basketball games and is contemplating getting a job in retail.
So this was a complete fluke: I asked Sophia to lay her head down on her arms on a table for one of the shots. And her mom Danette exclaimed, "Hang on a second! We have a similar shot from when she was a little kid!" So I took the shot, and later that night Danette texted me this lovely picture that they think was taken around when Sophia was in 4th grade. Amazing, right?
This got me thinking-- are there any shots that YOU would love to recreate? What a fun concept...count me in!
I am a high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.