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Advanced noise reduction with the Median method

From: Noise Reduction and Sharpening in Lightroom and Photoshop

Video: Advanced noise reduction with the Median method

So I mentioned before that Lightroom's develop module and the Camera going to send those images over to Photoshop and load them Zoom in here and we can see that, sure enough, it's a really noisy file.

Advanced noise reduction with the Median method

So I mentioned before that Lightroom's develop module and the Camera Raw plugin are the very best places to do noise reduction. And that's true for a single image. But I want to show you a really neat trick to do incredibly advanced noise reduction using multiple images. Now, these images of my sunglasses here, they all look like the same shot. They look like duplicates of the same file, but they're actually not. Let's come into full screen and toggle through these. And if you look really carefully you'll notice they're moving just a little bit.

That's because I've taken number of different shots of the exact same thing. They were taken in very, very low light. In fact if we were to come down here we'd probably see that this was shot at ISO 640, without a flash, at one fifteenth of a second, so the iPhone's doing everything it can to gather all of the information. And if we look at this, there's a lot of noise, understandably. So, I'm going to show you two cool ways to get the files into Photoshop and do something really unique. I'm going to multi-select these files, I'm going to Ctrl click hit Edit In>Open as layers in Photoshop.

It's going to send those images over to Photoshop and load them in as individual layers, and once they're all loaded in, all I need to do is align them, because if you recall, I took a bunch of images, and they weren't quite aligned. They were pretty close, but I want them to all be uniform. Okay. So, all of the images are in. I'm going to Shift click, to select them all. I'm going to come over here to my Edit menu, and hit Auto-Align, and I'm just going to let it automatically do its thing. I'm not going to change any of those settings, and I'll notice that when it aligns them, there'll probably be a tiny bit of overlap on the edges, just barely.

But now, everything is aligned and the next step is I'm going to come in here to the Layer menu and make all those layers a Smart Object. Think of that as sort of an image sandwich where it's taking all seven of those layers and combining them with one wrapper around them. Okay, there's our Smart Object. Let's double-click on our Zoom tool. Zoom in here and we can see that, sure enough, it's a really noisy file. Low light, and I just didn't have too much to work with. Now, all I need to do to get rid of this noise is come up her to my Layer menu, come down to Smart Objects, come over here to Stack Mode and I'm going to choose Medium.

And what that's going to tell Photoshop is any information that doesn't exist in half or more of these files should be discarded. Keep only the common content and magically what's going to happen is all of the noise that's spread out over those files is going to disappear. Because it's different in every image, it's going to just vanish from the photos. There we go. Cmd+z before and after. All of the details there, but the noise is gone. This technique could be used with any camera.

You could use a very low end camera or a very high end camera, but as long as you take a few images you can put that wrapper around it and do some pretty remarkable things with noise reduction. Okay, so I showed you how to do it from Lightroom. Let me show you how to do it from Photoshop, actually a little bit easier. What you do is come down to your Scripts, and Load Files into Stack. You want to go ahead and browse to our Exercise files>Smart Object. We're going to shift-click on those files. Click Open, but you'll notice we have a checkbox to automatically align those and to create a Smart Object.

So in that case, you just click Okay, and let Photoshop do all of the work. Once it was done wrapping that as a Smart Object, you'd go ahead and do the exact same thing we did before, which is select the Median option in the Stack mode for your Smart Object. In fact, in running this, I noticed that it actually runs quite a bit faster when you do that. So again, I just come up here to my Smart Objects> to my Stack Mode> and Medium. This'll give us a chance to see the results from afar. They are so pronounced, that even way back at 16%, you can definitely see before and after.

Before and after. So there you have it, a really unique and a really powerful way to use Photoshop for advanced noise reduction using multiple images.

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