Review of Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions by Ravinder Crone

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):

  • 56 Photoshop actions
  • Compatible with Photoshop 4-6 and Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Works both with JPEG and RAW images
  • Compatible with both Mac and PCs
  • Recipe list and sample images for inspiration
  • An easy-to-follow guide on how to install these Photoshop actions
  • Easy to adjust to fit your own style
  • Exclusive access to our private Help and Tutorial Facebook Groups

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:

Portrait Perfection Collection Action Set

Professional Photo Editing Service

All Photoshop Actions

Pinterest Lightroom Presets

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.

Before & After Review of Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Photoshop Action by Ravinder Crone, June 2017

Business Headshots for Anna Parker-Naples of Inspiring Mummy Club

A few months, I had the pleasure of taking professional headshots for Anna Parker-Naples who is the owner and founder of Inspiring Mummy Club.  Anna was referred to me by Mark Tomkins, Director of award winning design agency Aubergine 262 Ltd.

I was delighted to work with Anna to create the look and feel of her images for her brand, during which Anna was kind enough to make time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions and be a guest blogger to share her story.

Enjoy reading Anna’s answers below.

Tell me in 50 words or less about your job?
My job with Inspiring Mummy Club involves creating inspiring and motivating materials for people who want to make some changes in their lives, including the self-development and life-coaching content, writing and recording the powerful hypnosis tracks, plus coaching people on a one-to-one basis to help them break through frustrations and difficulties they have with their confidence levels.

Which part of your job inspires you the most?
I’m inspired by people who begin to take steps to make a difference to how they feel, and the things they believe they are capable of.  It is incredible to watch someone I have coached start to take off and fly, start to really believe that they can do the things they have always feared they couldn’t, but always dreamed of.  Inspiring Mummy Club is about making tools, resources and support available to women who feel stuck, and know they need to make some changes.  It’s about showing them they have a choice, and can put themselves first.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in business?
Business is all about people, and about your own mindset.  It’s about who you know, who you are influenced by, because everybody we have in our lives has the ability to affect us. Those people who have infectious ‘can do’ attitudes make me buzz, those who can come back from knock backs quickly and with resilience. For me, business, like life, is about how you overcome obstacles and challenges, how you perceive failure and how you allow yourself to open up to possibilities when you break through your own fears.

Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire mums who are out there making things they care about happen, and still make it back to be an awesome mum to their children. We’re only limited by our own beliefs and fears, and often by what society expects of us. I admire women who are managing to have the best of both.

Do you have a favourite inspirational quote?
’There is no failure, only feedback.’ It’s a key NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) belief, that if we can learn quickly from things that have not gone well, rather than wallow in self-pity and regret, then we are much stronger as we go forward. It allows me to see life as a learning experience rather than a struggle.

What drives you?
What drives me is making a change in this world. There is far too much negativity, moaning and groaning, and it doesn’t have to be that way. I am walking proof that mindset matters. Seven years ago I was in a wheelchair, feeling stuck in a rut, and very sorry for myself. I accepted that only I could change my life, and so I took responsibility for what I had in my life, and what I wanted. I built an incredible career as a Voice Actor, taking me to Hollywood and back as leading performer and along the journey, I recovered fully. I want other people to realise they don’t have to be stuck anymore, to realise that there are tools and resources to help them.

What are your biggest business challenges?
Since we have only just launched Inspiring Mummy Club, my biggest current challenge is getting word out there that we are available, and can help. Everyone knows a mum who is desperate need of making some time for herself and boosting her confidence, so it would be great to reach as many people as possible. So please spread the word.

Do you have any current offers that you can extend to my readers?
We are able to offer a one week free trial of our Gold membership package, including life-coaching and self-development tools, mediation tracks, guided visualisation audio, hypnosis tracks and a ready made support group of other likeminded mums. Email anna@inspiringmummyclub.com, mentioning Ravinder Crone’s blog and we’ll get your FREE TRIAL sorted for you.

Visit our website at www.InspiringMummyClub.com to find out more. When will you choose to be an Inspiring Mummy?

Published in Wedding Ideas Magazine, March 2017 Issue 171: Samantha & Mel’s Westerham Golf Club Wedding

I was delighted to see Samantha and Mel’s wedding being published in Wedding Ideas Magazine, printed over 5 pages of A4 size.

Samantha was wearing her Maggie Sottero grown and featured a Swarovski crystal jacket overlaid on a strapless lace grown with a classic silhouette.  Samantha looked absolutely stunning and said she felt like a movie star ready to go to the Oscars!  Ivory peep toe shoes from Pink Paradox and pearl drop earrings complemented the bride’s dazzling jacket.

Mel was the picture of a handsome groom, wearing a tailor made navy three piece suit from Moss Bros, also sourcing his brown shoes from the store. “He looked so dashing and happy, I felt so
lucky,” Samantha smiles.

The bride’s four bridesmaids came from both sides of the family because it was important to Samantha that both families felt like an integral part of the day. “Their dresses came from ASOS and I chose a lace design to complement the lace on my own gown. We chose navy to match the groom and finished their looks with gold sandals sourced in New Look.”

Donna Harris took care of the bride’s hair and makeup, creating an old Hollywood-inspired hairstyle to complement Samantha’s vintage-inspired dress.

Credits to the rest of the amazing suppliers that worked so hard to make this wedding day perfect:

CEREMONY St Martin’s Church, Chelsfield
RECEPTION VENUE Westerham Golf Club, Kent
DRESS Maggie Sottero at From This Moment, Surrey
BRIDESMAID DRESSES ASOS
GROOM Moss Bros
ACCESSORIES Pink Paradox
HAIR AND MAKEUP Donna Harris
CAKE Marks and Spencer
FLOWERS Jeanette’s Flowers
FIREWORKS PMA Pyrotechnics
ENTERTAINMENT Dom Pipkin and 1 Entertainment
PHOTOBOOTH Magical Times

Food Photography for Cod and Waffle Restaurant based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

Back in September, I met husband and wife team Jenny and Lee Jaggar, business owners and directors of Cod & Waffle Restaurant based locally in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

I think is always interesting how one meets people, Cod & Waffle were referred to me by my husband as they were one of his clients as he runs his own electrical company called CroneTek.  As time goes by you realise how it is such a small world we live in, Jenny and Lee are in the same street as us in Linslade. 😉  Leighton Buzzard is lovely little market town, near to the Chiltern Hills and near to Milton Keynes and only 30 minutes by train to London.  It’s great having the countryside on our doorstep and being so near to the city too.

Always nice working on new projects of getting small business owners setup with their photography for their new business website and social media.  Cod & Waffle had a private two days of menu tasting inviting people who had been instrumental in helping setup their business before their opening day on Wednesday, 7th September.  On Friday, 2nd September we agreed I would shoot on location and use this opportunity to photograph some shots behind the scenes in the kitchen with Head Chef Lee and his assistant chef.  Then as the food was being prepared in a live environment before being served to the clients I shot everything natural light and had about 1 minute to 2 minutes per serving to capture on my camera.  We photographers just love working under pressure!

I asked Jenny to tell me their story of how they came to running their own business and in her own words she said:

“Lee and I have both worked in the catering sector since leaving catering college. We were self-employed as caterers at Leighton Buzzard Golf Club until August this year with almost 10 years’ service at the club.  We have between us over 45+ years industry experience.

We have been really excited to open Cod & Waffle in September. We are both passionate about the good service of freshly prepared food. We wanted to create a casual, family-friendly dining experience with a unique menu concept.

We prepare almost everything on the menu from scratch, using free-range eggs, local butcher’s meats and fresh produce. We use our own unique waffle and fish batters. Gluten free waffles and fish and chips are available every day, and our potatoes arrive fresh and are peeled, chipped and twice-cooked for a “proper chip”.

Our menu is clearly marked with several gluten free and vegetarian options. Our licensed restaurant is spacious with highchairs, baby-change, disabled access and free wi-fi all available.

We offer a light two course meal for over 55’s on Mondays and Tuesdays for £7.50 and currently have a set festive menu. All are current specials are displayed in the restaurant and our social media pages.”

After my shoot both my husband and I had lunch (I love my job). I had a waffle served with smoked salmon and poached eggs, some garnish, drizzled with balsamic vinegar – it was simply delicious.  I managed to taste my husband’s lunch too as one does – he ordered fish and chips, the batter was so light and mouth-watering. And as for the desserts, I won’t tell you which ones I tried – it was certainly more than one and all tasted amazingly yummy!

The staff are very friendly, polite and well presented – you feel you have been going there for years. The setting has quite a lot of natural light, modern and contemporary with easy parking.

Thank you to the owners Jenny & Lee (Head Chef) for making us feel so welcome and cooking such wonderful food. Highly recommend Cod & Waffle as one of the top places to eat in Leighton Buzzard now. Wishing you both much success with your new business venture.

So if you fancy going out for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner you can get in touch with Jenny and Lee Jagger at Cod & Waffle via the following:

Website:  www.codandwaffle.co.uk

Facebook: @codandwaffle

Instagram: #codandwaffle

Cod and Waffle’s Kitchen with head chef Lee Jaggar.

 

Cod and Waffle’s head chef Lee Jaggar freshly preparing the food.

 

Cod and Waffle fresh fruit and hand whipped cream being prepared for the waffle topping.

 

Cod and Waffle – preparing their waffles, also offering gluten free waffles.

 

Try Cod and Waffle’s big breakfast -with oak smoked bacon, Cumberland sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, house beans and free range scrambled eggs.

 

Alternatively you could try Cod and Waffle’s smoked salmon and free range poached eggs.

 

And for some dessert try Cod and Waffle’s homemade banana and chocolate sauce with strawberries.

 

Try Cod and Waffle’s handmade battered fish and proper chips, homemade tartar sauce, lemon and garden peas.

 

Try Cod and Waffle’s roasted Mediterranean vegetables and brie with pesto dressing over a savoury waffle.

 

Try Cod and Waffle’s lemon and black pepper hand crumbed fish and chips, with homemade tartar sauce and mushy peas.

 

Try Cod and Waffle’s handmadebeef chilli with cheddar cheese, sour cream, nachos over a waffle.

 

Try Cod and Waffle’s handmade vegetable chilli with mixed bean chilli, cheddar cheese, sour cream, nachos over a waffle.

 

Alternatively try Cod and Waffle’s big breakfast -with oak smoked bacon, Cumberland sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, house beans and free range eggs.

 

Cod and Waffle’s savoury bacon, sliced brie and cranberry compote on a waffle.

 

Cod and Waffle’s creamy garlic mushrooms, with crumbled stilton and red onion on top of a waffle.

 

Cod and Waffle’s sweet mixed berry cheesecake!

 

Cod and Waffle’s sweet waffle with fresh fruit and raspberry coulis.

 

Cod and Waffle’s rocky road – waffle full of marshmallows, raisins, homemade chocolate sauce and biscuit crumb!

 

And finally Cod and Waffle’s famous sweet tasting waffle with slow cooked apple crumble, including cinnamon and toasted oat crumble. You will love it!

 

Cod and waffle restaurant, interior view.

Food Photography for TreatSmarts baking gluten free cakes, based in Vancouver, Cananda

Back in September I had the most amazing opportunity to travel to Canada as I was asked by Simrit Ollek, Owner of TreatSmarts Fine Foods to photograph her gorgeous cakes for her new business.  TreatSmarts is a local Vancouver based company specialising in gluten free goods.

Over a cup of tea I asked Simrit to tell me her story of how her company started:

“Gluten free allergies have been a family affair with me as my siblings and their children were diagnosed with gluten allergies. This stimulated my passion for baking items that my family members could enjoy.  So I started baking gluten free items a few years ago and over time, my chocolate quinoa cake and cupcakes became a favourite and highly requested desert for gluten and non-gluten friends and family.

TreatSmarts strikes a perfect balance between gluten-free eating without compromising taste!”

During every food shoot, it’s very important to taste the food (as you can imagine).  Gosh, they were mouth-watering, moist and absolutely delicious. Highly recommend you try them.

If you are planning your wedding, baby shower, birthday party, family celebration or corporate event and looking for something a little bit different check out their contact details:

Website: http://www.treatsmarts.ca
Facebook: facebook.com/TreatSmarts
Twitter: @Treatsmarts
Instagram: #Treatsmarts

Enjoy looking at a selection of beautiful photography I have created. 😉

TreatSmarts Power Bites! They are high in protein and energy, also gluten free. A peanut butter, chocolate, coconut ball made with the goodness of chia, hemp, flax and quinoa.

TreatSmarts decadent, moist, gluten free chocolate quinoa cake. It is rich and moist with three layers of dark chocolate, filled and iced with buttercream chocolate icing. Made with whole grains. Simply delicious and chocolate heaven.

TreatSmarts Cupcakes. They are rich and moist chocolate quinoa minis with your choice of buttercream. Perfect for birthdays, baby showers and wedding. No one will ever know they are gluten free!

TreatSmarts Cupcakes. They are rich and moist with cream coloured buttercream icing. Perfect for birthdays, baby showers and wedding. No one will ever know they are gluten free!

TreatSmarts Cupcakes. Try them with turquoise buttercream icing and pink toppings. Perfect for birthdays, baby showers and wedding. No one will ever know they are gluten free!

TreatSmarts cupcakes delivered direct to your home for that special party.

TreatSmarts cupcakes – can’t get enough of them in their lilac and chocolate buttercream icing. No one will ever know they are gluten-free!

TreatSmarts cupcakes – simply delicious, moist and gluten free. Fantastic to have for any birthday celebration, baby shower and wedding party.

Start your day with TreatSmarts Power Bites! They are high in protein and energy, also gluten free. Made with the goodness of chia, hemp, flax and quinoa, including peanut butter, chocolate and coconut.

TreatSmarts banana bread, homemade with a splash of dark chocolate chips that is light, moist and healthy.

TreatSmarts decadent, moist, gluten free chocolate quinoa cake. Rich and moist with three layers of dark chocolate cake, filled and iced with buttercream chocolate icing. Also made with whole grains – you must come and visit us and try it for yourself.

TreatSmarts take pride in their work, all packaged up and ready to be delivered to their clients. How easy can it be. Check them out.