Sunny Summer Day at Whiskey Creek

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Whiskey Creek, a tidal estuary in Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Whiskey Creek is a beautiful tidal estuary, flanked with mangrove forest on one side and sand dune on the other. I usually like for my captions to be mainly write-ups of the area's nature, but this one will be different. I was offered a free copy of some photo editing software if I gave it an honest review on my website, and this is the photograph I chose to test it out. The software is called “sleeklens” (, and it is a suite of actions that plug into Photoshop.

First of all, I think some of the actions did not work on my 10 year old version of Photoshop (CS2). They give the error “The command 'Camera Raw Filter' is not available.” But the majority of actions do not throw this error. And even the ones that do seem to retain most of their functionality. All in all, sleeklens has quite a few actions that I found useful, and it will definitely play a role in my future workflow.

I consider myself a fairly advanced Photoshop user. I tend to edit my photographs very thoroughly and manually, with many layer masks, channels, adjustment layers, etc. Sometimes I can spend almost a whole day editing a difficult photo. Many of the sleeklens actions seem designed to be used as quick and easy replacement for the techniques I've learned over the years. While they do perform well, most don't give me the flexibility and customization that I'm accustomed to when I do it myself. As one example, the “Dreamy Landscape” option seems to mimic the Orton effect, but doesn't do as well as when you control the effect yourself. I usually like to apply different radii of Gaussian blur for each layer independently, and adjust the transparency differently for each blending mode. Orton effect can improve a photo, but it can become overkill very easily, and I'm not sure a one-size-fits-all approach works best.

That being said, there are other actions that I did find quite useful. Some of the other techniques I use do lend themselves to automation, and sleeklens did a good job of doing just that. After preparing the photo in Adobe Camera Raw, I imported it into Photoshop. From there, after playing around with many actions, I settled on the following: I duplicated the photograph, and applied the “sky enhancer” action to one layer, and the “split tone” action to another. Using masks, I used kept the “split tone” layer for the trees, and left the “sky enhancer” layer for the rest. I then used the “deep blue sky” action, which was a bit overkill, but reduced it to 25% opacity and it gave a nice pop to the sky. After that, I just fine-tuned the saturation and contrast in each zone, and that was it. All in all, I'm satisfied with the post processing of this photograph, and sleeklens definitely helped speed up the process quite a bit. It will find its way into my workflow on future photographs for sure!

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