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Sleeklens Presets – Put to the Test

A few months ago I received an email from a software company call Sleeklens.  They offered to give me a set of their Lightroom Presets (Through the Woods) for free in exchange for a product review.  At first I was skeptical because I had never heard of this company or so I thought!

I searched their internet page and contacted another photographer, Mike Moats (he was listed on their Facebook Page), he recalled their products, and said, “Why not give it try?”

I contacted Sleeklens and ideally they wanted a turn-around time of a couple of weeks.  I knew based on my schedule and other life happenings, it probably would not happen for a couple of months!

My opinion on presets is not a “Hip-Hip-Hooray” attitude.  My past experience with presets are “It’s a good start” then I have to tweak to get it to the stage I want it. With that being said, I think my review may come as a surprise!

I have other presets that I’ve received from other companies, either as a premium or something I’ve purchased. I opened the presets in Lightroom and noticed I had other presets from Sleeklens…I’m not quite sure where I had downloaded them from.  I played around with them a little; at least it was somewhat of an assurance this was a legit company.

I had just returned from Yellowstone National Park and was still playing around with my images when the email came with the “Through the Woods” presets.  The presets come with Develop and Adjustment Brush presets.  I had loaded some of my previous brush presets in the wrong folder and with the instructions I moved those to the correct location so I had a whole new game going!

Lets look at before and after images. Many of these I did reset to the original, some I added the preset after my initial adjustments were present.

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Original unedited image

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After making adjustments on my own I added the Break of Dawn preset and it gave the image warmth and opened the shadows.

I felt encouraged after I saw the results of this image so I tried another.

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Original image

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I used the Exposure-Brighten preset on this one.

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As Shot

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The humming bird was initially adjusted with the Heavenly Warmth preset then I used the Brighten Shadows adjustment brush to pull out the details.

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As shot

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I used the Calm Sunset preset and then made further adjustments with graduated filters, luminance, and temperature.

Since the color presets were working so well, I decided to do a monochrome image.

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I picked this image because in color the water was still brown and thought it may look better in black and white

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I used the Pressed in Time preset, then added Monochrome Fantasy, and darken shadows and less highlights.

By now I feel that using the Sleeklens presets is definitely a great start to any image, but also can stand alone!

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As shot

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I aded Warm Shadows preset; adjusted shadows and clarity…BOOM…that’s all I did!

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As shot

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Calm Sunset preset added and highlights adjusted.

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As shot

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I used Darken Shadows preset and Autumn Colors

To conclude, yes, the Sleeklens Through the Woods presets are a “winner, winner!” I went in feeling very skeptical about using a preset, but the more I played and worked with them, it became apparent that the presets could function on their own without much help or further adjustments. I give this a thumbs up! To purchase your set of presets and brushes you can go to  Sleeklens for Lightroom

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Moon Rock

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Garnet in sand

I started playing around with this photograph because I liked the backlighting and shadow. I edited it in On1 Photo to add the effects and coloration to the photograph.

I called this moon rock because the texture in the sand gave a mysterious appearance. It also reminds me of a sunset on the beach.

Just a little fun with On1 tonight.


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I am re-posting this. Since the original posting I have received approval to be an On1 Affiliate and have attached the link to their website at the bottom of this article. Through the end of the year, ON1 Photo 10 FULL version is on sale for $89.99, plus you receive a special Holiday Bundle loaded with extra presets for Effects 10.

Pam DeCamp Photography

Since posting my blog on using On1 10, I have received approval to be an On1 Affiliate. You can click the link at the bottom of my post to learn more about the On 1 software.

On1 10 was released in November. I have been an On1 user since about version 6.  I received a free version of Perfect Effects for attending a Kelby Photoshop Workshop. I thought it was odd they had another company promoting their products at the workshop, but I took the time to watch the demo during our lunch break.

What I found out was On1 can be used as a plug-in or as a stand alone software. I have used it both ways.  I make my adjustments in Lightroom then move my image over to On1 Effects to further process my image.

For me On1 is a very simple way to enhance my images using…

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Start Talking Initiative

Ohio Governor John Kasich and First Lady Karen W. Kasich have launched a program to help keep Ohio children safe from the tragedies that result from drugs. Start Talking is a part of a new drug abuse prevention initiative launched January 8 with a focus on ways we can all work to reduce the likelihood of youth drug use before it even starts.  Research shows that youth are up to 50% less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and abuse.

The Start Talking initiative hosted a kick off event at Wheelersburg High School in Wheelersburg, Ohio on January 30, 2013.  The Wheelersburg area has had it’s share of “pill mills”.  The larger issue in the area now is heroin addiction.  The goal of Start Talking is to educate and empower our children to talk to adults and to speak up about what they are seeing around them. The program is also designed provide tools to increase the communication between the parents and children. Wheelersburg Local Schools Superintendent Mark Knapp introduced the program and talked about how the school can be pivotal in educating our children on drug abuse and empowering the students to talk to the teachers and coaches if they are aware of a problem.

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Mark Knapp, Superintendent of Wheelersburg Local Schools

Wheelersburg Baseball Coach, Michael Estep, reinforced the need to open a dialogue with our children.  He says he uses his Saturday morning sessions before double headers to bring speakers in to talk with the baseball team about a variety of issues.  He feels coaches and teachers are in a good position to provide support and encourage kids to stay off drugs.  In a time when peer pressure is strong, sometimes, just knowing there is an adult, whether it is a teacher, coach, or parent the student can turn to makes all of the difference. 

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Coach Michael Estep presents at the Start Talking kick-off initiative.

Among the speakers today were parents who had lost children to drugs.  It is important to realize the majority of drugs are obtained through family and friends.  Think about what you have laying around the house.  When was your last surgery?  Do you still have those pain pills laying around?  Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and other parents could unknowingly contributing to drug abuse to our children.  Take the time to go through your medicine cabinet and clean out medications that could lead to addiction.  

The first speaker, Danielle Smoot, gave an emotional testimonial about how her son died after his first exposure to drugs.  He was seen in the hospital and then when he came home, they put him to bed.  When she went in to check on him he had died in his sleep.  She emphasized that any child could be exposed to drugs at any time.  

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Danielle Smoot emphasizes that “one time” can lead to a tragic end.

The next speaker was JoAnna Krohn.  Her son had a troubled time with drug addiction.  One night he was having a party and obtained a loaded gun and accidentally shot himself in the head.  After the death of her son, Ms. Krohn founded SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss and Continuing Everyday), an organization to provide to evidence based support and education to children and adolescents on substance and alcohol abuse. SOLACE also organizes support groups to help individuals who have lost a family member to drug abuse or individuals who have someone in their family suffering from drug abuse and addiction.

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Jo Anna Krohn speaks about the tragic loss of her son, Wesley, while he was under the influence of alcohol and opiates.

Mr. Paul Schoonover gave testimony about his son’s history with drug abuse. His son came to him and told him he had a problem and wanted help.  Mr. Schoonover said that his son completed a drug rehabilitation program and they mistakenly believed he was “cured”.  His son died of a heroin overdose the day after he had completed a drug rehabilitation program.   

 

 

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Mr. Schoonover talks about the loss of his son from a heroin overdose.

Representative Terry Johnson who has served the region as the county coroner and as a physician talked about the “heritage” of drug addiction.  Many of the children who fall into the cycle of drug addiction are from families who have had long standing histories of drug abuse…parents, grandparents and so on.  It is a difficult task to break that cycle; they live how they are taught. He said as the coroner he has seen things we would not believe.  Conditions children are raised in down to elder abuse and neglect. Rep. Johnson credits closing the “pill mills” as a first big step to eliminating the availability of drugs.

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Rep. Terry Johnson shares his experiences as county coroner and seeing first hand the effects of drug abuse in our region.

Portsmouth, Ohio Police Chief, Robert Ware talked about the efforts law enforcement is taking in providing support and education to the schools and to the community.  He also talked about the efforts law enforcement has taken in making arrests and stopping the trafficking coming into the area. Chief Ware, concluded the program with this final quote: “How would you feel if you didn’t take 5 minutes to talk to your kids?” 

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Portsmouth, Ohio, Police Chief Robert Ware discusses what the police department has been doing to fight the fight against drugs.

Drug usage in this region has been prevalent since I was in school.  You knew who used and who didn’t.  When I first realized there was a problem was when I was walking home from school one afternoon (remember this is the late 1970’s) and I saw a car pull over and one of the students who was a year ahead of me ran over to the car and she was handed a bag of different colored “objects”.  I was so ignorant about drugs at the time that what I saw did not register with me. It wasn’t until later on did I realized I had witnessed a “drug deal”. 

Just because we live in a small town does not mean we are immune to the problems of drug abuse and addiction.  It is very important to talk to our children early on and frequently. I started talking to my daughter about drugs when she was in first grade and I haven’t stopped. I always emphasize to her that just because her friends say something is “ok” does not mean it is.  I’ve always told her no matter what do not get into a car if someone is under the influence of anything or for her to drive herself if she is.  It is always ok to call me for a ride home. Never put yourself or others at risk.  I will not get mad; I will not ask questions.  What she has heard me say over and over is “Never, ever, drink anything, someone else has made, or drink out of a container you did not open yourself, or drink anything you didn’t make yourself.”  

Like Police Chief Ware said, “How would you feel if you didn’t spend 5 minutes talking to your children?”

For more information on the Start Talking Initiative click on:  http://www.starttalking.ohio.gov/About.aspx

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Junior Theatre Festival 2014 Sets a Positive Example

Thank you for making this such a successful post. I am going to reblog and keep it going! Thanks!

Pam DeCamp Photography

Unless you are involved in community theatre or work with children’s theatre programs (or theatre period) you’ve probably never heard of Music Theatre International (MTI) or the Junior Theatre Festival.  MTI was founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) and orchestrator Don Walker (Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof) and is the industry leader in theatrical licensing. In other words, this is who you contact if you want to do a musical that is in their library.  You pay a licensing fee to put on the performance.

The Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) started in 2003 and was created by Nick Manos, who dedicates his time to the planning and expansion of the annual festival, and Timothy Allen McDonald, CEO and founder of iTheatrics. Mr. Manos and Mr. McDonald were inspired by the enthusiasm and excitement of the kids who participate in musical theatre and felt there should be…

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Dream Sequence : What Happens to a Dream (When You Wake Up)

Dream Sequence : What Happens to a Dream (When You Wake Up)

As you sleep your subconscious becomes active whether it is a trigger from a stress we are experiencing at the time or an experience that is being played out in a distorted way. There comes that moment, whether a noise, or an aversion to what we are experiencing in the dream causes us to wake-up. Where do those dreams go? Do they disintegrate like flakes of snow hitting the warm pavement? Do they blow into the wind? Or do they simply become a vortex and get pulled into the air like a vapor? The portal fades and closes. Many times if the the dream was pleasant we will ourselves to have it continue, but if it was unpleasant we try to tell ourselves to have a pleasant dream as we drift back off and the cycle starts again.


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Dream Sequence: Dream Maker’s Warehouse

Dream Sequence: Dream Maker's Warehouse

You pass through the portal and enter into a large room filled with people. Some you know some you do not know. There are objects, and animals. It is a very busy place. The Dream Maker carefully selects your dream or is being in this room your dream, or does it belong to someone else? You hear a typewriter keeping rhythm with the room swaying back and forth. The room starts to move and fold upon itself. A girl who sits in a chair, does not appear to be aware of the room slipping into itself behind her. A man grabs a young, beautiful woman from behind as if to strangle her, but is this just your imagination playing tricks on you? A cat playfully climbs a column and a horse rides in through a window. Look carefully, the portrait in the background seems to be alive and it is all being captured photographically through a window.


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Dream Sequence : The Portal to Dreams

Dream Sequence : The Portal to Dreams

Try to imagine going to sleep at night and being able to enter the world of dreams. You rise up out of bed, only it is your spirit not your physical being; your subconscious drifts and works its way through the dark hall way into the world of a dream. The guarded door opens and the Dream Maker welcomes you to the world. You see stallions galloping over your head. Butterflies greet you. Flowers become living, flowing creatures waving and paving your way into to this magical world. You see your reflections around you. The portal is only the beginning.


Before PhotoShop

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On my recent trip to the Antique Mall in Medina, Ohio I happened upon a couple of items and my curiosity got the best of me.  The box and sleeve were marked Spiratone and one was a Vignetar and the other was a Center Sharp Focus.  They were both marked 52mm and I thought out loud, “Those would fit my 50mm lens!”  So for about $23 I purchased both items. Spiratone was a manufacturer of camera accessories from about 1946 to 1990.  Many of the younger photographers have never used or seen these types of filters because Photoshop or other programs can provide these effects.  Photography, back in the day (LOL), was much more, how would I say this, accessory dependent than what we are now.  In the darkroom you would achieve vignetting by cutting piece of paper and shooting your light beam from your enlarger through it.  You dodged and burned using cutouts of the image.  If you were lucky you could purchase filters to give you the star effects and soft focus for portraits (I still have mine!).

Today, I decided to “play” with my newly found items.  I had to experiment with the f/stop settings and found if I kept it mid-range or stopped down all the way the effects were much better.  The Vignetar is adjustable and will give you a smaller or larger vignette.  The Center Sharp Focus had its challenges.  If I shortened my depth of field (smaller f/stop) I had much more blur within the center part of the photograph; it produced shadows and reflections.  If I narrowed my depth of field (higher f/stop) it gave a much better effect.

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The first photo above (red background) is with the Vignetar and is a straight out of the camera exposure.  The black and white version is the same photo using a blue filter effect in Aperture.  I like how the camera fades into the background with this.  This camera is my old Nikon F2 with the 85mm f/1.8 lens attached (Nikkor).  These were photographed with my Nikon D700 and I used a tripod and I lighted this with white fluorescent lights on a pole lamp. My settings were ISO 200, f/6.3, and shutter 1/15.

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The next image was taken with the Center Sharp Focus filter and was straight out of the camera.  You can see the blur effect it made with the background while keeping the center focused. My settings for this were ISO 200, f/6.3, shutter 1/15.

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Here is another view of the effect the Center Sharp Focus filter produces; my settings for this photo were ISO 200, f/6.3, shutter 1/13.

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My final image is a shot taken with the Vignetar; my settings were ISO 200, f/9, and 1/3 of a second.  I again, used the blue filter in Aperture to convert to the black and white.

I think these are great finds.  I enjoyed shooting with these and they make great effects.  I think they would be a great addition to macro photography to help keep your central focus on your subject.  I am going to keep my eye open for other cool “old” items to use.

Happy Shooting!

 


The Making of Scrooge

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I know this is a late update to the Christmas season, but I felt it was worth publishing.  I had a wonderful opportunity to photograph the special effects make-up process of RJ Haddy of RADFX Company in Charleston West, Virginia.  For those of you who are not familiar with RJ’s work, he was a finalist and fan favorite on the SyFy Channel’s second season of Faceoff.  RJ (pictured below) came to Wheelersburg, Ohio to transform Jordan Nickles, a 19 year old actor, in to the elder Ebenezer Scrooge for JAX Theatre presentation of A Christmas Carol: The Musical.

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RJ, in the weeks preceding the play, had taken a plaster mold of Jordan’s face so he could design the foam latex mask to apply to Jordan’s face to make him look “old”.  Below is Jordan.

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The mask was a 6 piece foam latex prosthetic that was applied one piece at a time and then the “seams” were glued and blended together so it would appear as one piece.  The “mask” moved naturally with Jordan’s facial expressions and was very realistic in appearance.

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The next photos show how the mask application progressed.  The entire process took 4 hours to complete. If you want to view the video of the entire process (8 minutes) go to this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2l0BF8ieXc

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Veins and age spots were added to make the skin appear more realistic.

 

 

 

 

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The following sequence is the application of the hair, eyebrows, and sideburns.

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I enjoyed, very much, photographing and video taping this process.  RJ is a wonderful to work with. Jordan is a very bright and talented young man and he has made JAX Theatre a wonderful establishment and had brought a variety of cultural experiences to our area. Image

Jordan and RJ posing and showing off the final results.

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I have to include one more shot…This is my favorite shot of the two of them.

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I hope you enjoyed this visual journey of The Making of Scrooge.  This was such a fun assignment that I hated not to share it with everyone.  

Stay tuned for my next adventure!