How much time do I spend editing photos? A lot! I spend 1 – 2 hours on each photo. Some tough ones can take even more. So, I was excited to try out the SleekLens Landscape Adventure Photoshop Actions Collection as it was advertised to speed up the process significantly. Did it work out? Read below.
If you want to get deeper and master editing for landscapes, please check out my Photoshop Classes.
My regular workflow consists of the raw conversion and then editing in Photoshop using luminosity masks by Tony Kuyper. It’s a magnificent tool, but time-consuming.
So, let’s start with my fav scene – ocean sunrise. Straight after the raw conversion.
The toning actions just create a Color Balance layer with an empty mask. The names “Cool Shadows”, “Warm Highlights” do not really reflect the truth as after creating the layers I have to manually paint in the masks. Same applies to all toning actions. The only usefulness is in preset values of the Colo Balance sliders.
All In One
There is a bunch of “all-in-one” actions, which do the editing start to finish. Let’s jump to those and see how they can handle this shot.
The “Intense Sunset” produces some crazy red colours throughout – in both highlights and shadows. Maybe this can be valid in case of direct sunlight, but it just doesn’t work for this shot. If I mute it to 20% opacity, then it delivers good colour but lacks contrast. I guess it’s created for a different scene!
This one is much better. The colours are more realistic and overall feel is more pleasant. Maybe it’s just me, some people like to go over the top.
Well, this one got me confused. It produced something reddish, which is fine, providing I can fine-tune the sliders. But I cannot in this case because it has merged all layers.
I didn’t go through all the all-in-one presets, but I’m pretty sure they are similar – produce some colors, which you later fine-tune with the opacity sliders. Overall, this can be useful but requires further work and enhancements. This is not a magic button but can be a significant help if you need a quick edit.
The next set of actions is Enhancers.
This preset is a little different, it creates a group with the black mask and you need to paint in the sky where you need the changes. This is fairly easy for this shot and I just used a soft brush. The preset keeps the colours and increases the contrast. It can actually be useful for some dramatic skies. Just don’t overdo (like I did here for the blog post) because it starts to look unnatural. And it suits better for the normal sky, not within sunrise/sunset.
I actually liked this one! It’s a little similar to the dramatic sky, but the contrast is softer and also increases saturation a tad, which suits this type of shot I have here.
Increases overall contrast when I paint in the mask. Not for every case (see summary).
A good and easy filter too. Helps to create a basic dreamy feel to the shot.
This is a No. I didn’t like the results. The final images are “overcooked” with halos and oversharpening. Requires some fixing of the algorithm. Also, it resizes the original image instead of creating a copy.
In general, a good set of tools and filters, which can be used to aid a photographer. For me, being spoiled by the luminosity masks, it does not provide enough means of control, but some functions are good.
What I Liked
I liked the dreamy preset and the subtle sunset preset. The dramatic sky and sky enhancer can be useful too. In fact, I might use these sky filters in the future even inside of the longer edits.
What I Didn’t Like
The plugin asks too many questions. I keep clicking the OK button twice for anything I do, this is distracting. The web sharpener is a disappointment, it does not deliver good results. Also, there are no means to manipulate contrast separately in shadows and highlights, which is essential to have. The overall contrast (detail enhancer) does not help here.
I may use some of the functions and I will surely use this for some of the simple photos, while harder photos still require more precise editing. The colour presets are interesting and I will also use them and apply locally to the parts of the image.
This photo is entirely edited using Landscape Adventure Photoshop Actions.
SleekLens also provides actions for the Lightroom and for the other scene, portraits etc.
Now, after reading this, you can safely browse the gallery.
The downloads are available here: https://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-adventure-photoshop-actions/