I happened to be one of those who consider processing NEFs in Lightroom kind of a headache. Lightroom does a rather nice job rendering NEFs, but it still doesn't compare to the colors and contrast of the ol' Capture NX2, not to mention the wonderful Control Points for selective processing. However, Lightroom has lots of advantages, and I do try to use it more nowadays. One of these advantages is the use of presets and brush effects - which are supposed to make processing images easier.
Usually, I prefer processing my images without using presets. Since I don't process a volume of images together, this allows me to use what I consider the precise post-processing that fits an image. I guess that in part, this is probably a consequence of using presets that were exaggerated and seemed to make the image, well - a too-saturated too-contrasty version of the original. Recently though, I got hold of Sleeklens's Lightroom workflow for landscape photography - called Through The Woods. I've decided to give it a try - and see if it's an improvement over the other plugins / presets I've used.
Sleeklens's Through The Woods workflow consists of a selection of image presets and brush effects. The presets usually have a self explanatory name, and are divided into several groups. Each group contains a certain type of presets (e.g. exposure correction, color corrections etc., and also "All-in-One" presets which give a more complete processing solution). As you can guess - presets from different groups are usually additive - meaning you can apply them on top of each other. One of my favorites is an all-in-one preset called "Shine Into the Sunset". This preset warms up the image, and fixes the curves so that an image that was taken "into the sunset" looks more appealing. There are also good presets for shadows / highlights, contrast and more, and what I really like about them - is that they are usually natural-looking.
Among the workflow's brush effects, you can find different brushes for different processing effects. There are simple brushes to apply color, but also brushes for more specific effects such as the nice "Cloudy Sky Definition" and "Water Definition" brushes. And of course, you can control the intensity of the effect by changing the brush's Flow.
Once you get used to the long list of effects, and find your favorite ones - it really makes life easier. Sometime a single preset is enough to handle an image, but if you want to get creative - you can completely transform an image using the right selection of presets.
Sleeklens offer other workflows too, each accompanied by several examples - so you can get the impression if it's right for you. If you find this interesting - just head over to Sleeklens's website and check it out - you can get some free samples too by signing to their newsletter etc.
The image above was post-processed using the Through The Woods workflow.