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Understanding noise reduction

From: Noise Reduction and Sharpening in Lightroom and Photoshop

Video: Understanding noise reduction

The very best places to take care of noise reduction are in the Lightroom's develop And for this image we're just going to talk about the luminance noise.

Understanding noise reduction

The very best places to take care of noise reduction are in the Lightroom's develop module and Adobe Camera Raw, which uses the same engine, it's just present in Photoshop. And I want to show you on two different files how to take care of noise really quick and easy. The first one, we're going to use this image off of the iPad 2. It's really low resolution. And I'm going to show you a couple of tips to get the most out of it. As always, the very first thing we want to do is balance out the tones. The color temperature on this image is really strange.

So just by cooling it down, it's going to look a lot better. You'll be surprised how often the artifacts you're trying to correct for will take care of themselves when you balance out the exposure. Sometimes when you open up the shadows, you'll get noise that wasn't there. But in this case it just looks better already. So now we're going to come down, and I'm going to ignore sharpening just because there are so many artifacts in this image. It would just make it worse. And I'm going to zoom in on the entire image, to see what I'm working with here. And for this image we're just going to talk about the luminance noise.

Now it's pretty obvious, as I pull this over, what's happening, we're smoothing out the noise. And if I apply it really aggressively, you'll see that the details slider brings in more detail or takes it down to nothing. As with any slider with Lightroom, if I double click on it, it returns to its default position. Now, as we're sharpening, I could hold down the Opt or Alt key, to temporarily get a black and white preview of my image. And this is really handy. You don't have to worry about all the color. That looks pretty good. With the, same key held down, I'll click on the Details slider.

And again, no detail, lots of detail, somewhere in between. If I've done my job right, the contrast isn't going to be too obvious. On the far end, there's a little bit. But it shouldn't effect too much. This is really fine tuning. Now for the color noise, I'll show you a different image. But you can see that looks quite a bit better than it did when we started. I'm going to hit G for my grid. And I'm going to come back to this image and this image was taken with the original 5D and it was a great camera at the time but its low light sensitivity was not so hot.

If we come over to the develop module it actually looks like things were alright but come up here and we start to open the file up a little. Let's bump the exposure and let's open the shadows up and we'll see, okay, there's all this great detail in the foreground but there's a ton of noise. Alright, so let's talk about how to get this out of there. Again, we're going to come down here to our noise reduction and the first thing we're going to do is get rid of the luminance noise, all the crunchy noise that we see all over the image.

And pretty quickly, that luminance noise will disappear. Now you don't want to get rid of all of it. You want a little bit of texture left in the file or the neon sign will end up just looking like a water color. So, but we can use that pretty aggressively. The detail, we take it to none, or quite a bit, or somewhere in between. Now it's the color noise we're really worried about now. And to see that the most, let's turn it off entirely. And sure enough, there's a ton of color noise that was sitting in the shadows there. If I pull this slider over, I'm going to see a lot less of that.

Same deal with detail. And if I like, I can use that Opt or Alt key on any of these to get that temporary black and white preview. Of course, on color that's not going to work, because you're wanting to see the color information. So, pretty dramatic difference. I think the most impressive thing here. Is while we've gotten rid of all that color noise, and luminance noise. We still have the glow around the neon sign. So we've retained all of that detail information. Now, this is a good time to talk about being smart in how you edit your files. When you're thinking about noise reduction in a file like this, let's re-introduce the noise.

Let's turn these off. Another way to edit this would be to just think about the darker areas. The very darkest areas. I've opened up the shadows but does the sky really need to be that much brighter? Could I come over here and take the black area and pull that down? You see what happens here, I still have the detail on the foreground. I still have the detail on the sky but by taking that one end of the histogram, I've gotten rid of a lot of the noise. So, I definitely recommend using noise reduction. But when it comes to a really aggressive use of noise reduction, think about where the noise is.

And, if possible, there might be some tricks to getting rid of it without softening the rest of the image.

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