30 minutes? More or less? I am not sure with anybody else but for me, sometimes it is quite a hassle and this process can consume a hell out of time only to complete 1 photo. People also tend to say that landscapes photography usually involve the most amount of post-editing - which is I agree in some parts. Try searching in YouTube especially on subject about post-processing involved on golden moment capture, milky way or luminosity masking and you can scream to yourself on 'WTF is dat!'
I must admit, again - at least for myself, that post processing takes as much important as to capture the photo itself. Once I pressed the shutter in my camera, my image is just 50% completed - there is still another 50% portion that I need to fulfil during post processing. But I simply couldn't stand out to spend a lot of time in front of computer screen and facing thousand of images which were just obtained after a holiday trip. That’s why I am very happy that nowadays we have a lot of powerful tools, softwares, filters or anything else that can accommodate our needs in the easiest possible way.
Okay, let's get to the business. Previously I was only using Google Nik Filters [which is free - and that's why I am using this ;) ] for giving any additional effect, changing tone or any other kind of adjustments beside the Photoshop features itself. And now, I am gonna try out a set of Photoshop Actions - on this case - released by Sleeklens with a hope that it can minimize the workflows required to get a photo which I desire. But I would state something beforehand that there are many choices of Photoshop Action outside there that you can refer as well beside the one that I am using.
Because the point is how Photoshop Actions can really help you to eliminate your editing time.
Once the installation is completed, the first thing I do in every action / filter is to try them one by one, to recognise each function and what sort of effect it gives. For this Sleeklens set, there are basically 7 functions available which each of them have several categories that you can pick based on your intention on how you want to create your image about. Which is afterwards, I realize that there is limitless possibility on how I want to use these actions because each combination will lead to different unique result.
Well, let's talk with some samples.
I actually love the original one but the sky is too flat and dull. The yellow and purple cast is begin to appear when I change the RAW camera profile to landscape mode and that is when I decide to expose this color more.
During editing, I simply pick 'BASE Clarity & Expanded Dynamic' to sharpen the image and popping up the color. Then after adding a 'Deep Blue' effect for the sky and pastel effect for a bit more dramatic, I complete this shot by eliminating some harsh colors + set up a vignette. In summary, this process didn't take me more than 10 minutes.
This shot is a bit simpler as I just used the actions to increase overall sharpness at the foreground, popping out the sunrise colors & cover it with darker ambience also at the foreground. Then afterwards I again added vignette and remove color cast on the sky area.
Basically if you look at my layers, every adjustment is again - adjusted using masking to ensure that the effect is only applied on certain area which I think is necessary. Your judgement is needed so the result will still fit your taste despite all the shortcuts / effects that we are using.
Another 5 to 10 minutes processing that involving 'Expanded Dynamic Range' & 'Vivid Pastel' effect on Photoshop action. Still by using masking, I manually applied those effects as balance as possible before changing the overall tone using Nik Color Efex to be a bit warmer. Afterwards, I decreased the brightness just a slight only using Curves and Voila! - another shot is done.
This last sample is involving quite amount of steps since the base layer itself is a combination of 3 exposures - or HDR processed. But it is so simple as I just added a subtle sunset effects to give more golden atmosphere on the overall image, then get Nik Filters to work on its sunlight + brilliance tone. After masking it properly on the area I aimed, I reduce the noise using NIK Dfine, make the exposure slight darker & fix the geometrical issue due to wide lens.
10 - 15 minutes and that's all it takes.
The actions are so great especially on how it can minimize the duration needed in my editing process. When I said about minimizing, it does really minimize the time I consume to finish 1 image in Photoshop. The combination, even when you have no idea on how you want to edit your image - can give a various alternative & inject you the idea itself. Honestly, I found myself enjoying to play between each action and it does inspire me to where I should lead this editing works.
Who needs this action set:
Every photographer can get a benefit as this workflow speed up the entire duration needed. BUT, I believe that this set is only suitable for them who are already get used to the software platform it serves, which are either Photoshop or Lightroom. Simply because this is not a ready made filter like VSCO's or Instagram's - which are aimed for ‘picked & use” users. This set is just a series of action combined to get certain effect easily and quickly, so I believe you still need to do some masking or other combination to ensure that the effect is properly & neatly utilized.
(+) Using a Photoshop Action Set - whatever available in the Internet [on this case I am using Sleeklens Landscapes Action Set ] is something that I recommend as the amount of actions and effects it creates are usually quite varies. Those alternatives can enrich your idea on how you want to process your image and it is proved to minimize my editing duration. I will definitely use this action set into my regular workflow.
(-) Not suitable for beginner. Or at least you need to know about the basic of masking / layering first since this is not a ready made filter. You may find that several effect is just too harsh, but this is only a Photoshop action and what you need to do is simply adjust it properly by masking it.