Recently, I was asked to try and review a new set of landscape actions offered by Sleeklens. The "Landscape Adventure Collection" is a comprehensive set of actions specifically designed for the landscape photographer that are compatible with either LR or PS. Classically trained in film, I found myself starting over as our industry transitioned to digital. I have always thought that if Ansel Adams were alive today, he would have loved working in digital. He was the original master of landscape, lighting and manipulation. The tools available to us now enable us to take our landscape images to a whole new level. LR/PS do not replace quality photography by any stretch, but do allow us to enhance what nature has already provided us, even on a dark and dreary day. The image attached to this post (Vestrahorn, Iceland) was taken at sunrise. All of these colors were there, but hidden in what was an over-exposed image with a lot of foreground shadow. I specifically chose this image to test the Sleeklens actions as I knew there was potential hidden in the RAW file.
I brought this image into PS after only a couple of basic adjustments in ACR. After installing the Sleeklens Adventure actions into my PS/CC, the first thing I noticed is how organized and easy to follow the panels are. Everything is separated by what the out come of running the action will be (exposure, base, tone, all-in-one, enhance, specialty, temperature, web-saving). It clearly informs you whether the outcome will impact the image, or if the affect is to be applied to the image via a brush. The opacity is completely controlled by the artist and can be increased or lowed to taste. I found the results to be extremely realistic, especially where the sky is concerned. I am not a big fan of the over-saturated/ nuclear look. I found that by either apply a blending mode or opacity adjustment, I was able to easily enhance the natural beauty of my image. The colors and tones that I remember in person were easily recaptured in only a few adjustments. I literally spent less than 5 minutes on this image from start to finish. To achieve this final result, I applied:
All None - Dawn Rising 15% (masked and painted off of the upper left cloud and peak to avoid over-saturation)
Dull Weather - 10% (on the bottom black ice)
Enhance Dramatic Sky - 50% to entire image
Detail Enhancer - painted on th edge of the ice to give it a "pop"
Warm Hilights - painted on sky and mountain
That is it.. it really was that simple. The actions will not replace all of your normal editing practices, but are a great tool to have in your arsenal. My favorite thing about the the Sleeklens actions, how natural the outcome is and how easy they are to understand and use. After only 4 images, my muscle memory had already taken over, knowing exactly which actions to use to achieve a desired result.
Bottom line.. 2 huge "thumbs-up" for a great product developed with all levels of Landscape artists in mind. I have already incorporated the Landscape Adventure collection as part of my regular, everyday workflow.