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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.
So far we have talked about how we can use Photoshop in order to reduce noise. But let's say you want to take it to the next level. Well, what are you going to do? Well, a lot of times what people do is they purchase a plug-in. Now, you can purchase a plug-in that doesn't come with Photoshop in order to reduce even more noise and typically, there are two reasons why you use plug-ins. One, it saves time; two you are able to do more detailed work. So, what I want to do here is simply showcase one of the plug-ins that you can use for noise reduction. Now, there are a handful plug-ins, you don't have you use this plug-in. Yet, this is the plug-in that I use so I simply want to showcase that so you have and idea about how you can use external plug-ins. All right, well let's go ahead and select two images. Click on corwig_trek and then hold down the Command key on a Mac, Ctrl key on a PC and click on corwig_mac_world and then right click or Ctrl-click and choose Open.
Let's start off with this photograph of the trek athlete here. Double-click the Zoom tool, press F to get a Full Screen View mode and when we do that we notice, hey! We have quite a bit of noise because this image was underexposed. I increase the exposure in order to make it a little bit more interesting than all this noise in the image. I'll zoom in Command+Plus on a Mac/Ctrl++ on a PC. In the sky, I have color noise, on the athlete, I have all kinds of color noise and I just have this low exposure noise. I have problems. So, I navigate to my Filter pulldown menu. I'm going to choose Define. This is a plug-in that's put up by Nick- Software. It's a phenomenal plug-in, it works incredibly well. If you want more information about it, just do a quick Google search of Nick Software. And what I want to do here is again keep this really simple. I don't want to really teach you how to use a plug-in, but just kind of showcase it. So we notice that there is a quite a bit of noise. We can see we have noise around the tree branches, on the sky, on the athlete. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go an automatic measuring. Now this will just analyze the image. If I zoom out a little bit on this image, you will notice that it's sampling different areas and it is analyzing those areas and it is saying, hey! This is where we have some problems. I'll go to my noise reduction, I'll reduce noise across the whole image, zoom in on that so we can see what's happening here and I'll reposition this and zoom in even further so, that's as far as I can go. And here you can see the before and after. You can see that I have reduced all the artifacts, the color noise, the contrast noise, let's go to the sky here. You can see that it's like night and day difference.
Now I can control the overall amount, so I'll go ahead and reduce the amounts here so that I'm doing a little bit less noise reduction and I'll reduce it quite a bit so, you can see now I just have that color noise is reduced, increase that a little bit more and I can find the sweet spot where I maintain in the detail. So, what's happening here is in the measuring, it's analyzing in the image. Hey! Where is the noise? And then I have some controls that will then help me determine how much noise I want to apply. I'll go back to the Navigator panel and hover over the athlete and make sure I'm removing enough noise off the athlete. I need to crank that up a little bit more here, don't I? So I'm going to go ahead and increase that quite a bit. Click OK to apply that and the nice thing about this noise reduction is it's non-destructive. Here is my before, here is my after, zoom in so you can see that even better. Before and after, it's on a separate layer. So, let's say that you know I really like the noise reduction on the athlete. I don't like what it did to the sky. Well, no big deal, right? I'll simply grab the Quick Select tool. I'll paint a quick selection across the athlete here. I'll go ahead and be pretty rough because again, I'm not trying to get too detailed here for you.
We have a nice selection, click on the Mask icon. Well, now I just have right noise reduction on the athlete. We will zoom in so we can see that, here is my before and after. Okay, well let's go to our next image. Let's press Ctrl+Tab on a Mac or a PC. Now, here we have a photograph for Macworld. I was speaking at Macworld this last year so I flew in to San Francisco, I got there, I started to do a little walk about at night. I was walking down the street and I came upon this ad and I just thought. Oh, how classic is that! lynda.com added a bus stop, so fun! So I had a snap a couple of photos here.
Well, I opened up the photos and let's zoom in on them and these have been sized down, but we can still see some of the noise, we zoom in on it, we say you know what? Looks great, but we have noise on the bus over there, we also see noise on this black area on the lynda.com logo. So I want to reduce that, I'll start with some noise in the yellow of the sign. So I'm going to navigate to my Filter pulldown menu, go to Define and choose Define 2.0 there. This will then open up this dialog and I'll reposition this so we can look at a portion of the image here that we can recognize. There is the good, old logo. What I'm gong to do is go to my automatic measuring and just say, hey! You know what, measure the noise for me, perfect. I'll then go to my Reduction and rather then whole image, I'm going to go to Color Range. Now, with Color Range, what I can do is click on the Eyedropper and say you know what, we are going to work on these black tones or these actually- they are not black. They are a little bit brown and yellow tones. I can then increase or decrease the amount of noise reduction in that specific area. I can also sample the yellow of the sign. So I can target real specific areas. Now, in addition to that, I can use what's called the control point. Now I can a control point to a specific area of an image and again, on that area of the image I can increase or decrease the amount of noise reduction and I'll need to move the Spacebar over that area to see my before and after.
You can change your before and after views in a couple of different ways as well. So as you can see, you have the ability to target different aspects of your image, you can also get into different channels and in those different channels you are going to see quite a different view of that types of noise. So here we can see the green channel, not very many problems, but when I go down to that blue-yellow channel, gosh! All kinds of noise there and then I can increase or decrease my noise reduction based on what I'm seeing in that preview. I'll go back to that RGB composite view mode. All right, well so far we have just seen that we can go on to our measuring automatic reduction, we have a number of different controls and the image is looking pretty good. I'm going to go to the Whole image to just keep this simple, increase my Contrast and Color Noise, click OK to apply that and again, I'm not trying to show you how to necessarily use that plug-in. I'm trying to give you vision for why you may want to pick up one of those plug-ins and learn more. Let's look at our before and after here. Here is before and after, zoom in even further on the lynda.com logo. We can see the blacks looks so much better here, and the yellows as well over here.
Let's go over to the bus because we saw some noise on that bus. Here is our before and after, zooming in even further you can see it does just a phenomenal job identifying problem areas and then reducing the noise in those problem areas. At the end of the day, what you want to do is double-click the Zoom tool, take it to 100% and look at your before and after. That's were you will able to define if this is going in a good direction and with this image, again, that plug-in did a phenomenal job. There are two reasons or at least for me, there are two reasons, why I want to use a plug-in. One, is it speeds up my work so, two, it helps me get better results.
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