Every once in awhile I get a client asking if they can have the RAW files from their session - normally it's because they need a digital image quickly for an invitation or an announcement of some kind and they assume that it will be easier for me to just give them a quick turn around on an image from their session without editing. And while it would indeed be quick, I can assure you that they in no way would be happy with what they receive. Not because I don't strive to get things right in camera but because 1. an image out of camera doesn't represent the finished product that I provide to clients as a digital artist and 2. nobody looks good straight out of RAW with a camera that shoots so you can see every single pore on a person's face! Understanding and knowing how to edit and finish images is an important part of any photographer's workflow and in my opinion is one of the things that can make a good image an amazing image.
Along those lines there are tools that every photographer uses to complete the digital artistry that represents how they see their work and that's what I want to share today.
Sleeklens.com reached out to me to ask me if I would be interested in reviewing their Photoshop Actions a month or so ago. I have a pretty consistent workflow and I do utilize different action sets in my work; some of them are actions that I have purchased over the years to streamline what I do and some of them are actions that I've created as I go. However, I am always open to trying new things to see if there are ways that are more efficient or better than what I'm doing now. After I checked out their website I figured that I should give them a try to see if their products could fit into my current workflow.
I had several recent sessions to choose from and I decided to go with a milestone session first; using an image that I took of Ethan out in a field nearby. As it's winter and outdoor colors can be pretty dull this time of year I thought it would be a good test to see what kind of enhancements the Sleeklens actions could do. Using actions is not difficult and Sleeklens actions give you helpful prompts on how to use them when you click on them to process. The most important thing I have found in using any actions though is that they generally ARE NOT a fix all that you can just click and expect to be perfect! Understanding layers in Photoshop is a must even when using actions so that you can control what the action does and adjust accordingly using layer masks and lowering opacity, etc. It's really easy to imagine that you can just click and go but to get the most out of these actions you need to make sure that you are applying them correctly for the effect that you want on your image. The descriptions on the Sleeklens actions are fairly accurate in what they do, which is certainly helpful, but the more you play around with them the more you will get a feel for how to adjust to accommodate your goals for the end result.
In this example I started with this image.
Super cute - but as I mentioned the background is a little blah to me as we shot this in the dead of winter and other than a bit of greenery from the evergreens in the background it feels a little lifeless. And adorable Ethan deserves more than that!
Using Sleeklens actions for portraits; I started with the Base- cloudy days which already made a big difference in the overall tone and color in the image, then Color Correction - vivid, Enhance Tones - Romantic and Summer Love, Moveable Light and a bit of Painterly Effect I was able to bring his image to this.
And now his sweet little face just pops! I also did some basic retouching using the Fast Retouch action on his eyes and to do a minor skin adjustment. I also found the sharpening action to be awesome for the final touch!
As with any action set the key is knowing when you have done just enough as it is always easy to overdo images. My style tends to be a bit more vibrant with deeper contrast so I have to be careful not to get crazy when I edit:)
Overall, I think that the Sleeklens Actions can be extremely useful and have add great amount of value, especially for beginner photographers who are just learning how to utilize Photoshop to the get the editing effects that they want. I've learned a lot of my own Photoshop skills by looking at how actions work on my images and then figuring out adjustments from that point. I found Sleeklens Actions to be easy to work with and understand and I definitely can see working them into my everyday workflow as I edit and enhance portraits. They have a ton of different action sets for different types of photography and different uses. I highly recommend that if you are looking for a way to enhance your images to take them to the next level you check out their page and see if they have a set of actions that might suit your needs!
Sleeklens is also now offering Professional Retouching Services as well if you are looking for an vendor to outsource your editing work to. You can check that out at https://sleeklens.com/product/professional-photo-editing-service/.