A few months ago I was contacted by Sleeklens about an opportunity to road test some Lightroom Presets as part of my photography editing workflow. I was honoured to be chosen and after a few months, I feel like I have a great handle on what they can achieve. The preset collection that I was asked to review was called Strike A Pose Portrait Workflow.
And I must say as someone who is only fairly new to Lightroom (I only switched from Camera Raw to Lightroom around 18 months ago) I was fairly impressed with these actions.
I thought it would be best to base my review around some specific examples and some before and afters so you can see how easy the presets are to use and give instant results.
In the Studio.
Here is a quick headshots from Kit’s personal branding session. The first image is straight out of camera.
The second image was processed with the “Strike a Pose – Brighten” preset… and that’s all. I am impressed. It added the pop of brightness this image needed while keeping the blacks and shadows dark.
Another great preset was the “Strike A Pose – Greyscale High” which gave a nice high key black and white effect. Both of these photographs create the perfect result for a studio portrait and only a little adjustment to under the eyes is needed in Photoshop. So quick, so simple and beautiful results. Perfect for natural light studio portraiture.
The second batch of images I thought I would review would be from one of my wedding shots. This shot is from Von & Sam’s wedding. When I was posing and capturing this photograph I wanted to make sure that I was correctly exposing for the skin and thought if I could bring some of the detail back in post that would be amazing. I probably should of underexposed a little bit more, but I am pretty impressed with what a couple of the actions can do for this shot. The first photo is straight out of camera.
The first preset I tried with this photo was the “Strike A Pose – Catch Me” and I really loved it. It kind of has those nice sunset tones and really punchy contrasts which I think works for this shot really well. Very similar to the simply sunkissed, just a little more punchy.
For a slightly cooler effect, I thought I would try the “Strike A Pose – Cool Portrait” and to be honest, I don’t mind the effect. I added an extra gradient to the sky to bring out some more detail and reduced the blacks in the skin tone a little, but overall I don’t mind the effect from the preset.
The shot below I must admit is one of my most used presets – especially for photographing in the late afternoon golden light. This is the “Strike A Pose – Simply Sunkissed”. I love how this one brings out the golden tones, enhances the shadows but also adds in some blue to the sky. Generally I just watch the clarity/vibrance/saturation and adjust as needed to make sure its not doing anything funky to the skin, but overall I really like this preset.
I thought I’d also add in another sunset photo from Von & Sam’s wedding to really show off the power of these presets. The shot below is the straight out of camera. I underexposed the foreground to make sure I had enough detail in the sky to be able to enhance in post production.
To bring out the best in this particular shot, I stacked a couple of different presets. Firstly I selected “Auto Tone” which brought the exposure back to a fairly even tone but I felt like the shadows were still a little dark. So I clicked “Brighten Shadows” to really bring out more of the detail in the foreground. And as I was playing around I clicked on “Bronze Tone” to finish off the look and feel of this shot. Overall it gave a really good result. If I was going to play around a little more with this photo I would probably enhance and lighten the couple a little more.. but I was super impressed just by what clicking on these 3 presets could do.
And finally, I wanted to share another example of some different presets on a different kind of landscape portrait. Overall I think these presets work really well on shots where the landscape is featured. It can really enhance the look and feel of the scenery but I have found you really have to watch how the preset effects the skintone.. just something to be mindful of.
The first shot is straight out of camera.
This second shot was processed using the “Auto Tone – Colour” followed by “Hawaii Colour 2” and then “Colour Pop”. I really love the result. It gives such a nice tone to the scene without it being overwhelming on the skin.
The second option I wanted to play around with for this particular shot was to really make the scene feel green, like you were surrounded by nature. I used the “Cinematic” and it gave me the look I was going for. All I had to do was just bump the exposure up a little, watch the shadows and the blacks and it was done.
Overall I was very impressed with how simple it made editing my photographs. The key I found is to make sure you have a great exposure to work with initially but with one or two clicks of the Strike A Pose presets I found that the photos were done. Another great feature of these presets is the Reduces Reds or Greens in skin tones.. I love these presets if I am shooting outdoors in grass, as sometimes the grass reflects a really green colour cast up into the face. One click and it’s gone. These presets have been great also for helping me to learn Lightroom faster and with only minimal knowledge I can produce beautiful photographs I am proud of. If you are looking for a base set of presets I would definitely recommend these. I also use the All in One presets from Sleeklens as well and love using them.