Ravinder Crone | Award winning and published wedding and lifestyle portrait photographer | Creating beautiful, creative and contemporary imagery with a timeless feel. Based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, working internationally and across the UK, locally covering Buckinghamshire, London, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Herefordshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Kent.
Last month, I was contacted by Sleeklens.com asking if I would be interested in reviewing their Portrait Perfection Photoshop action. Sleeklens is a Danish company providing professional workflow for photographers who are looking at saving time with their editing processes in post-production.
To be honest I am really not a fan of using actions but it’s always good to try new tools and save time where possible. So I am always open minded. Although over time I have created my own workflow process, I do not like my imagery to look over-processed and my lifestyle work to be very natural.
I followed the instructions and installed the .atn file into photoshop and began to use the Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions. Sleeklens provide an entire series of tutorials on how to work with “Portrait Perfection Collection” via their website.
Included in the bundle you get (as published on Sleeklens website):
From my archives, I decided to use an image I had taken during the summer when I did a children’s shoot in the USA. It was during that golden hour, a beautiful evening with natural soft light.
In my before and after image below, I took my before image straight out of camera (SOC) and opened the file through my ACR opening up the actions palette to begin.
Before running any actions I quickly spent one minute removing any blemishes on the subject’s skin and a small mark off the peach by her right hand finger with the patch tool. And a few strands of loose hair above her head with the clone tool.
First on the list is a set called “All in One” actions. These consist of eight different choices and I played with them and they do what they say and are easy to use. Personally, I didn’t use these on my image as they didn’t appeal to me in this instance or work for my image as they are a bit heavy for my taste. It’s a shame you cannot go into each action and have the control to fine tune each element to create the look further. Saying that, you can do a workaround of duplicating the background layer and then adjusting the opacity etc. For photographers who are starting out these might be a great starting point but for me personally this was the part I liked least.
Next on the list is the “Base” Actions, there are five of these to choose from, they are called “from scratch, from nature, from bright sunny days, from golden hours and from cloudy days”. I used the golden hours and after running it changed my opacity layer to 50%. I liked this as it was a good start to creating a depth of warmth to my image.
Then moving on to the “Exposure” action this gives you two options of “Bright and Dark”. I haven’t used this as I felt my image was good SOC, but again the action is very straightforward and easy to use.
Then was the “Temperature “action, providing two options of either “Warmer or Cooler”. I used the cooler part, changing the opacity to 10% and I ran this after the enhanced tones as they pushed up the colours and changing the temperature to give the look I like in my work.
The “Colour Correction” action provided eight options. I used the “Reduced Reds” changing the opacity to 30% and used this just for the skin of the subject and not the background. The reason I have used this is after running the “Enhanced Tones” action, this pumps up the reds on skin as I applied the enhanced tones across the image, knowing I would use either this reduced reds or desaturate the skin in Photoshop as I like my work muted a little when it comes to skin tones. This gives me the end result I am looking for on skin tones. There is always more than one way to work your image even in Photoshop or Lightroom or Capture One Pro to get the same result.
“Portrait Retouch” contains seven options. Everything you need to brighten eyes, plus a very handy fast retouch for eyes, skin and teeth all in one, add a soft glow or a honey tone, desaturate skin, add a bit of blush or create glossy lips. I used the brighten eyes first with a 15% opacity and then ran the fast retouch using the soft skin at 30% and lashline and details at 20% over the lids of the eyes.
The “Enhanced Tones” actions were good to experiment with and you can get an idea to see which each action creates for you in look and feel. There are 14 looks to choose from and very easy to use, also made up of customisable layers, giving your image a pleasing effect. I think all of these were really good to use in their own right, my preference was using the “Summer Love” and changing the opacity to 20%. Then I decided to run “Firestar” with a 25% opacity.
The “Vignette” actions consists of two options. The “Toned Vignette” creates four different layers of from yogi brown, blue, cream haze and dark version. There is also a “Vintage Vignette”. I used the Yogi Brown changing my opacity to 20%.
The “Light glow” action is a great addition to the set of actions giving you eight options. The options include cream, blue fire, clue ice, sunny, peach, pink, neutral and soft warm. I did play with this set but have not used it on my image. It was again very easy to use and it literally lets you add a burst of light anywhere in your image. It is all moveable, simply by clicking and dragging to adjust your opacity.
The “Candy Store” actions provide five very useful tools. They are called Paint Effect, Dodge and Burn, Frequency Separation, Sharpen, Advanced Portrait Retouch. The ones from this set I would love using are dodge and burn, frequency separation, sharpen. I only used the Sharpen action at 20% opacity on my image. If I had a chosen a different image for a wedding or fashion portrait I would have spent more time using the dodge and burn and frequency separation. I found the advance portrait retouch for me was limited and I would like more control when it comes to skin retouching.
Finally at the end of the set of actions there are a few resizable options for preparing your web files. These are always useful when starting out in photography.
In overall conclusion of this review, I was impressed with the quality and thought process put into creating these actions. The ease of installation of working with these in your pc/mac are very easy to use for anyone, even beginners providing you have used Photoshop a few times so you understand layers. It is very useful that there is supporting FAQs, guidance and videos for users. Yes, I would recommend using these if you are a portrait photographer as they are very useful and simple to use especially if you are a starting out as a photographer and you have little knowledge of Photoshop. There is flexibility in using them to save time and gives the ability to tweak or change the effect of these actions to cater for more people.
For the record, I have been supplied with a copy of Sleeklens Portrait Perfection for this review. Please note I am not paid by Sleeklens and the opinions I have expressed are my own.
If you are interested in finding out more about the workflow here are the links:
Here’s a video on how to install PS actions on MAC and PC: https://youtu.be/ZTnE5069jXU
Here’s another video on how to work with Portrait perfection portrait workflow: https://youtu.be/pqOE_c_8IOg
Enjoy looking at my before and after image with the results of using the Portrait Perfection action.