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In Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Essential Training, Ted LoCascio teaches casual photographers how to organize, edit, and share their digital image libraries using this powerful software package from Adobe. He tours the included Adobe Bridge application, used for importing and organizing photographs, and explores every feature of Elements itself. He demonstrates how to navigate the Elements workspace, which is used to correct and improve images, combine them into projects, and produce slideshows, photo books, web galleries, and more. Ted also explains how to get the most out of each editing mode, and shares tips for correcting, retouching, and sharpening photographs. Example files accompany the course.
Digital images shot in low light conditions or at high ISO speeds can contain unwanted noise. This results in the photos taking on a grainy appearance. With this movie, I would like to show you how to improve noisy images by using the Reduce Noise filter in Elements. I'm currently in the Adobe Bridge application and I'm viewing the exercise files folders. I would like to scroll down in the Content panel and double-click on the Chapter 13 folder, then double-click on the Reduce Noise folder and then select these two images here by Shift-clicking on them.
Double-click to open them both up inside of the Elements' Editing workspace. In the Project bin down here I'm going to double-click on the jack-o-lanterns image and bring that to the forefront. Okay, I'm going to hide the Project bin by clicking that arrow and the next thing I'm going to do is zoom in on this image. Let's go to where it says View > Actual Pixels to bring it into a 100% view magnification. All right, you can see in this image here, because it was taken in low light conditions without a flash that it contains a lot of noise. If I hold down the spacebar, click and drag around the image in order to inspect for the noise, we can really see it. In fact, if I zoom in a little bit further by pressing Command+Plus, we can really get a sense of how much noise there really is in here.
So all these little dots in here, it's a very noisy, noisy image. Very, very common for images taken in low light condition like this. If we go in the Quick fix mode, let's go in here, and Fit in Window, Command+0. We can lighten this guy up again, so I think we should bring out a little bit more of the detail. I don't want it to look too bright because I like this spooky lighting effect that we have got here with the jack-o-lanterns and the candles. But I think I want to see a little bit more detail and I can reveal that by dragging the Lighten Shadows slider to the right, just a little bit, cannot too much but just a little bit. I'm going to go ahead and apply that adjustment.
Go back in the Full Edit mode and then zoom in some and we will find that in doing so we have revealed yet even more noise in the image. Okay, it's even more apparent now that we have made that adjustment and lightened up the shadow areas. Okay, so what can we do to fix this? Because this stuff will show up in a print of the image and it will also show up if you save a web version of it and post it up on the web or e-mail it to somebody and it's generally an undesirable effect. I want to go ahead and reduce this noise. What we can do is use the Reduce Noise filter, so I'm going to go in here under the Filter menu, choose Noise and then choose Reduce Noise. Okay, so in here you can see, the first thing I'm going to do is just reset this dialog box because it's remembering my last used settings. I'm going to drag these off to the left, un-check that so that I can explain them all for you.
All right we have got our large preview window over here on the left. It's defaulting to a 100% as well, which is a good starting point anytime you're inspecting for noise. But I would recommend even zooming in a little bit further clicking this Plus icon down here at the bottom. Now we can really see what's happening and we can always scroll around inside of the preview window just like we can in the document window except we don't have to hold down any key modifiers. All we have to do is hover over the preview area and just click and drag, all right. So the first thing we want to do here is focus on the two different types of noise; there is luminance noise and then there is color noise. All right, luminance noise is all of these little white dots that you can see in here; if we scroll up to the top we might be able to see a little bit better some of the color noise. You can see these little red areas in here? That's actually color noise. All right and we want to reduce that as well.
So the first thing I'm going to do, go ahead and focus down here a little bit, is increase the Strength and a good starting point I think is right in the middle, right at 5 and notice what's happening, its actually blurring the image in order to reduce the noise. In doing so, we're losing some detail. If I drag this back, it's going to look even blurrier. Okay, so now we have Preserve Details at 0. If I click and hold the mouse button down, I can see the before and then let up on the mouse button, I can see the after. That's what happening after it applies the Strength to 5. So it's blurring away the noise but losing detail in the process.
We can try and preserve some of that detail by dragging this slider to the right as well. I think I will bring it up to the 50%, right in the middle again. Now we can do the before and after again, clicking and holding, there is the before and then letting up, the after. Okay, so it's reducing the noise but not taking away as much of the detail. So this is a bit of a compromise here, a little bit of give and take when we're choosing settings here in the Reduce Noise dialog box. All right, and then we have our color noise. Let's go ahead and take a look up here in the darker areas of the image where there is more apparent color noise.
Increase that slider, drag that to the right, start at about 50% as well, there is the before, there is the after. So it's doing a pretty good job of removing the color noise as well as the luminance noise. Again, it's a balance between the settings of these three sliders. All right, we also have a Remove JPEG Artifact option. Anytime you save an image as a JPEG, noise is a natural byproduct of that; it's an artifact. Okay. You may want to reduce that by turning on this option here, especially if you're working with JPEG images, which this is. Okay, so sometimes that can help out a bit. Turn that on and then work with these sliders, just keep trying the before and after. I think we're probably going to have to reduce the Color Noise-- increase that a little bit more. Also going to have to maybe preserve some details because we don't want to get too blurry. There is the before, there is the after. I think may be at least one more notch on the Strength, before, after. All right, it's looking pretty good.
Like I said this is a compromise, you're not going to able to keep all of your detail and reduce all of the noise, especially in an image like this, that's very, very noisy, taken in low light conditions, okay. Then go ahead and click OK to apply the Reduce Noise filter to the image. Takes a couple of seconds to process and then we can see it's done a really nice job. Okay, we're still zoomed in to a 100% here. We can zoom in even further, Command+Plus, scroll around the image and see what it has done. Okay, it actually looks a lot less apparent. Okay, if you want to do you can do Undo, there is the before, Redo, there is the after, very nice, okay.
Let's take a look at this other image here, going in the Project bin, double-click on the sponge diver image, hide the Project bin and let's zoom in on this as well. Again, View, Actual Pixels and you can really see the color noise in this image. Now this one was taken in broad daylight also without a flash. We're getting the same sort of problem, okay, noise and it's mostly color noise, see all that in there. Let's zoom in a little bit further; you can really see it in this image, okay. We need to reduce it here as well. So we can do the same sort of thing. Let's go under the Filter menu and go to Noise > Reduce Noise, bring up that dialog box and take a look at what happens. I think I'm going to click the Plus symbol here to zoom in to 200%. When I click and hold it's showing me the before; when I let up on the mouse button we're seeing the result of these settings over here, and these are the last used settings, the same ones that I used on the jack-o-lanterns image. It actually looks pretty good but I think we're going to have increase the Reduce Color Noise setting because I'm still seeing a little bit of that. Before, after. Makes a huge difference on an image like this.
I don't think we have to worry so much about preserving details with this one. There is a lot detail in this image. I'm going to bring that a little bit, like I said it's a compromise, I want to do what's best for the image here overall. That looks pretty good to me; I'm going to click OK. Apply the filter, wait a couple of seconds for it to reduce the noise and then we will take a look at the image overall, okay. We can see in here, it has done a pretty good job of reducing noise in the image overall. It's not nearly as apparent as it was before we applied it. There is the Undo, there is the Redo.
So Reduce Noise filter can help you reduce the noise that's inherent in an image, that's taken in low light conditions or at high ISO speeds and as a result you will get a much better print and it will actually view much better on the web or on any device.
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