SO, I am an avid Lightoom fan and I do around 99% of my editing on Lightroom. It has changed the way I edit and has freed up days of my life! I am so passionate about it that I also povide training workshops on the subject.
I have purchased a couple of commercial presets in the past, especially when I first started out but I find that I mostly create my own brushes and presets as commercial ones rarely work for me.
I was asked to trial and evaluate the Strike a Pose preset and brush set from Sleeklens and what grabbed my interest is that it is actually a workflow set. Anything to make my life easier is something I am totally into!
I really put this workflow through its paces. I edited a very wide selection of images, from studio to natural light images, and various different locations and subjects. I wanted to really see if it is something I will add to my workflow permanently. And boy was I pleasantly surprised! This works straight out the box and really does make life easier. The big thing for me was the brushes. This workflow is designed for portrait photographs specifically and the brushes that come with it will make you wonder if you will ever need Photoshop again. They have really thought of everything. The brushes are really the star of the show as far as I am concerned.
The All in One presets are really handy as well! I do have a specific look I go for which is very simplistic, life-like and with very few bells and whistles. This did mean I had to tweak some settings but it was 2 or 3 clicks away and I ended up with presets that I have now made a permanent part of my look and feel. I did find that the All in One presets were more geared towards outside setups and for my studio work I found only a few that really worked, but again, this is because I have a very specific look (and set in my ways haha). Their presets are also stackable which is a rare find in commercially purchased presets!
Then, one biggy…I shoot in jpeg (no judgement!) for several reasons (and yes I do know how to use RAW) and this set is geared for both jpeg and RAW. Now there’s something you don’t see everyday. And not only does it work, it works well! It doesn’t feel like a compromise.
There were some presets that made me so eager to use them that I dug up some beach shots from a year ago of my little ones (read snapshots) and did something I NEVER do and that is re-edit an image. I had so much fun and I was really happy with what I achieved and these old snapshots are now going to find their way to a print or an album soon.
The brushes come with easy names that tell you exactly what it does like ‘Whiten whites of eyes’, not something like ‘Pink Fairy Glitter’ that wastes hours of your life trying to figure out how to use it. You can zoom in and edit lashes, iris, catch lights, lip colour, skin smoothing, add highlights to hair, even change colour of hair. Is really is a complete workflow.
Ok, so in short, I loved this workflow. But…nobody is perfect. Things that slightly bugged me – there were very few black and white presets and none that suited my brand. Also, like I said, these are mostly for location work and if you work exclusively in studio they would not suite all your images unless you want to experiment and do diverse work.
Also, if you are very new to Lightroom it will take you some time to figure out where to customize and tweak some of the All in One presets to your needs but you can pick this up with a little bit of experimentation.
The brushes are the absolute best and totally worth the purchase, both for studio and location work. It is user friendly, comprehensive and effective. I have ended up replacing most of my own brushes with the Strike a Pose brushes because it does everything you can need for portrait post-processing and of course in the usual non-destructive way that is the trademark of Lightroom.
At the price point that it is selling for, this workflow is a must. No need to shop around and guess. If you are into portrait work and location work especially, just get this, it is all you need!
Here are some of my examples, keeping in mind I don’t throw the Pink Fairy Glitter over my edits, I prefer a natural, light and timeless edit. Some of the presets can do very creative and artistic things but I am slow to convert 😉
I will gladly share recipes and custom settings if anybody cares.