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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
In this movie we are going to take our Noise Reduction skills to the next level. Now before you actually begin to work with this technique, I want to show you this file. It's called channel_ demo1.psd. Double-click and open it up. We are going to go ahead and open that guy up, then double-click the Zoom tool and we are going to look at how we can reduce the noise by accessing the noise in the different channels. Now if we zoom in even further, you'll notice that I have cut this image in half. Here is one half, over here on the left and then the other half. Now if we zoom in even further, you'll notice that this other half has this channels technique applied. It's almost like night and day difference. This side we see quite a bit of noise, over here, nice and smooth. Well, how do we accomplish that? It's all about accessing the noise in the channels.
Let's close this file, D for don't save and go to our file corwig_freestyle01. Double-click to open it up. Press F to go to Full Screen View mode. Now we are going to convert this layer to a Smart Filter. Right-click and choose Convert to Smart Filter and then add a filter. Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise and then simply click OK here, because I want to show you something. If I try to clean up the bigger problems in this image, I can't. If I hold down the Option key and I sample an area and then go ahead to paint, it says This object must be rasterized before proceeding.
So I can't have this as a Smart Object and that's basically what it's telling me. Well, I don't want that. So I'm going to go ahead and Cancel out of this and then Undo what I have done and go back to the original state. So one of the things that you want to do when you are reducing noise in your photographs is first clean up the image. First, get rid of all of these big huge blemishes and then go to your Noise Reduction. Double Click the Zoom tool. We are going to grab the Spot Healing brush, we want a Healing brush. It's about the size of the blemish and we are going to go ahead and just click around the image, again really quickly just removing some of the larger spots and that's pretty important little step there, isn't it? That we do that first before we go to Convert to Smart Object and in this case, I have all these spots here because I had sand on my lens. I not only had an ISO of 1600 but I made a nice rookie mistake of not noticing that these motorcycles were kicking up sand because this was a motorcycle demo kind of thing at the beach and I wasn't a very happy camper, let's just say because it's not too fun little pieces of sand on your lens, but I had that there. So I have to clean that up.
So now that's cleaned up, we are ready to begin our Noise Reduction. We are going to right-click, Convert to Smart Object, next Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise. Now we are going to reduce noise, we will zoom in a little bit further. I'll take my Amount all the way down. I like to start back at zero, increase the Strength, preserve the details, yeah, we are going to need some good details here. Click on it Before and After. See ton of color noise there in the sky, reduce that, get rid of that color noise. Let's see if we can zoom in to see that color noise. Look at that. Look at all those colors in the sky. That looks crazy. Color Noise, save the day. Sharpen some of the details, yeah. Let's zoom out so we can see what's happening here, see how our details look at 100%.
Enter Strength, increase that a little bit more. Click OK to apply that. Now how are we doing? Here is our Before and After. Oh man, I thought I was doing great but you know what, I'm seeing a ton of noise there. So my Before and After, yeah it reduced a lot of the color noise, some of the luminance noise. What do I need to do here? Well, I need to reopen my Noise Reduction dialog and I'm going to go to the advances tab. Next, I'm going to Click into the Per Channel amount. Now at this point, I can go to the different channels, I'm on my red channel. I have the green channel, interesting. There is a quite a bit of noise in that green channel and the blue channel.
Click on here and I'll see that I have quite a bit of noise there as well but when I go back to that red channel, holy cow look at the noise in that red channel. That is absolutely crazy, how much noise there is. So here's what I need to do. I need to strengthen my Noise Reduction amount in this red channel. The details, I'm going to ahead and lower this. Take a look at my Before and After now, just looking to pull more noise out of that particular channel, the green channel. Yeah I need to crank it up there as well but not that much.
Don't need to go that high, bring in some of the details. Next go to the blue channel. There is some noise there, it's almost completely removed. I'm just going to again increase my amount here, go back to that red channel, I want to take that up even further. Because I'm going so high, I need to preserve some of those details. Find the sweet spot there, just looking at my Preview panel there. Click OK to apply that. Now that's what I'm talking about. Here's our Before, Command+Z on a Mac, Ctr+Z on a PC. Here's our After.
Let's zoom in even closer so you can see what I'm really talking about here. Again, here's our Before and then finally when we went into those channels, here is the After. So one of the things that you can do when you are working on reducing the noise in your photographs is you can go to the Channels palette, you can then click on the different channels and begin to see what's happening to those different channels and when you do that, in this case, we are going to see that we have a lot of noise in the red channel. We can then go to our adjustment, which is our Noise Reduction adjustment. Click on Advanced and when we do that, tap into the different amount of sharpening Per Channel and one of the things you will discover is that by targeting the specific channels, you can reduce quite a bit more noise because the noise isn't evenly distributed to the different channels, rather you will find more noise in certain channels and less in others.
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