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In this installment of the Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials series, author and teacher Chris Orwig guides photographers through the process of improving images with creative color, sharpening, and other effects in the Lightroom Develop module. The course covers each of the tools and features in the Develop module, and shows how to perform basic adjustments, such as exposure enhancement; how to improve image quality through noise reduction and clarity adjustments; how to apply creative effects, such as split toning and vignettes; and how to perform advanced tasks, such as correcting for lens distortion. Exercise files are included with the course.
Let's take a look at a couple of scenarios of how we can use the Adjustment brush in order to deal with noise. In this first image that we'll be working on, we're going to take it to the Develop module, and once there, I want you to press the I key in order to pull up your info. This info will show you that this image was shot at 1600 ISO; therefore, if we zoom in on this image, what we'll see is that we'll have a lot of noise in this file. I'll go ahead and zoom in on one area of the photograph, and I'll press the I key in order to hide that Info Overlay.
Well, here we can see the noise or the grain structure of this picture. This will be really good to kind of see how this Adjustment brush works. What you can do is you can click on the Adjustment brush, and then you can go down to your Noise settings. Now, typically, you're going to want to click and drag this to the right, but not always, and we'll talk about why. Next, I'll choose a Flow of 100 points. Just to kind of see how this works, I'm going to go ahead and paint back and forth across this area, and you can see that as I do this, this whole area becomes, well, really soft.
It's removing the noise, but it's also removing some of the detail that we need. Let me just paint a nice area of this photograph so we can see how this noise reduction works. Well, here you can see that, yes, indeed, it does have less grain or less noise. Why don't I zoom in even farther so you can see that? Yet the image has become too soft; it's lost some of its sharpness. So what you may end up doing is you may end up needing to use your Noise and your Sharpness sliders together. In other words, you can bring back a little bit of that sharpness here and also lower the Noise just a touch, and by doing that we can have a reduced kind of grain structure there with a picture like this.
In some scenarios, noise is part of the image; in other situations, you'll find it because your exposure wasn't right. You were underexposed, and when you increase that, it added noise to the picture. Well, this gives you the ability to paint in that exposure increase, if you need to do that, and also add that noise reduction at the same time. Let's take a look at another image to explore this. Here I'm going to go to the Library module. In the Library module I'll click on our people folder, and in the people folder, the photograph that I'm looking for is one that we've seen before, which is rincon_surfer.dng.
Next, I'll zoom out so you can see this picture. Here you have it. Let's go to the Develop module. Well, in the Develop module, I'm going to zoom in, and I'm going to zoom in not quite 1.1, but I want to get pretty close to this photograph so we can see this guy sitting here. Well, he is underexposed. So we could grab our Adjustment brush, we could increase the Exposure, and then we could turn, say, Auto Mask on, with a nice big brush here and just paint across him, in order to try to brighten up the exposure in this area of the picture.
And currently, it's going to look a little bit choppy, a little bit strange, but just stick with me for a second, and we'll go ahead and say we could paint through this problem area of the picture. And then we turn Auto Mask off with a lower brush size, and then go ahead and clean up all of the little choppy pieces there. Left Bracket Key decreases your brush size. And this amount of exposure is way over the top, right, but it helps us see those edges. It helps us start to kind of work with this file and figure out how we might be able to make some improvements here. Okay.
Well, as far as roughing it out, we can see that we have kind of brightened up part of the image. Let's zoom into a 1.1 view so that we can see what's happened to that area that we brightened. Well, that area that we brightened up, it looks okay, but in a lot of ways we can see that we have a lot of noise there. And I'm just kind of trying to fix up these little small areas that I messed up on, where I didn't quite get it all painted in. Also, I'd want you erase any edges over here where I went too far. So there's going to be some finessing of getting your actual brushstroke good here, but I think for demo purposes we're almost to that point. All right! As I mentioned, we brightened this up, but we also introduced noise.
Well, what we could do with that is we could then add a little bit of noise reduction. So I'm going to increase this Noise reduction. I'm going to do this pretty dramatically, and you can see that as I increase my noise reduction, all of a sudden the image is much more soft, even with this overexposed image. I mean, I've increased my exposure way too much. You can see that the detail there that we have is much nicer. We could also add a touch of sharpening. That's one of the reasons why Sharpening is close to Noise and Moire, because sometimes when you remove details, you may need to kind of bring something back a little bit.
Well, more realistic for this image might be to take our Exposure setting down into a range right about here. We can have that nice amount of increased exposure, at the same time combining that with our noise reduction, which gives us an increased exposure without as many artifacts as we would have had if we hadn't use this slider. We can zoom out a little bit here and see that I've only worked on a part of the image, but even just by doing this small area of the image, with these two sliders working together, we can come up with some great results.
And you and I know that we can take this to an even better place, right, by combining this as well with a couple of other sliders. When we increase exposure, we may want a little bit of contrast, a little bit of clarity, and so now it's exposure, contrast, clarity, and noise reduction, and a little bit of sharpening, and all of those together give us a much more usable and quality adjustment.
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