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I've saved my changes as Unlinked mask.psd found inside the 16_smooth folder, so called by the way because I have unlinked my layer mask from my layer. I've set up two independent windows into the same image; in one window I am seeing the RGB Composite view, in the other window I am seeing the contents of the layer mask. In this exercise we're going to further quelch the noise inside the shadow region using a Filter that's very closely related to the Median Filter; the one that we saw in the previous exercise and to get to it, go to the Filter menu, choose Noise, and then choose this guy right there Dust & Scratches.
Now, the thing you need to know about Dust & Scratches it's an old-school filter, been around for a long time, almost as old as Median upon which it's based and it fixes neither dust nor scratches. In fact, it's the most badly named filter ever because if anything it leaves dust and scratches behind, it allows you to average away the biggest aberrations inside of an image; so the biggest luminance differences while leaving the small luminance differences alone. So in other words, we're going to get rid of the big noise, and leave the little noise in tact.
Go ahead and choose the command. Now by default, it's I believe set to a Radius of 1 pixel. I want you to take it up to a Radius of 6 pixels, and you will get that exact same effect we saw in the previous exercise with the exception of modifying the layer mask this time around, because we've unlinked the two. We're just changing the RGB composite image. But notice that we are averaging the pixels like crazy at this point. So the big difference where Dust & Scratches is concerned, it's exactly like the Median Filter, Radius behaves just like Radius inside Median, and as long as you have Threshold set to 0 you get the exact same effect.
But you do have this Threshold option and it works the opposite of the way the Threshold option inside the Un-sharp Mask dialog box works if you remember that from the previous chapter. In this case, if I raise let's say this value to 6 levels, I'm saying, if two neighboring pixels are less than 6 luminance levels different from each other, then don't change them. If they're 6 or more luminance levels different from each other, then do change them. So in other words, it's going to change the big stuff and leave the little differences behind, which results in a kind of natural level of noise.
So it's really great by the way for smoothing over imperfections inside of an image, and leaving the natural photographic noise behind, and where this noise is concerned, this big, huge, chunky luminance noise that we have inside the image, Dust & Scratches works well. Now it goes too far, but we can always back things off. So I'm recommending 6 for Radius, 6 for Threshold, so 6 and 6, click OK in order to apply the effect, then to back it off a little bit, go up to the Edit menu and choose Fade Dust & Scratches or press Ctrl+Shift+F, Command+Shift+F on the Mac, and I just want you to take the Opacity level down to 50%.
So we're getting a 50% blend of the image before we applied Dust & Scratches along with 50% of the image after we applied the filter. All right! Go ahead and click OK in order to complete the effect, and now I want you to see the big contribution that's being made by this layer mask here before it was a little hard to tell, before we had applied Dust & Scratches. Now you can see the difference. But I am going to go ahead and zoom-in on the image so that we see it up close and personal. We actually don't need this layer mask thumbnail anymore, so I am just going to go ahead and close this window out.
Notice that Photoshop does not ask me to save my changes because I still have the file open here. All right, in order to turn off layer mask in Photoshop, you Shift+Click on the thumbnail. So this is what the effect looks like if we weren't relegating it to just the shadows, we would be applying the effect that is to say the Noise Reduction, the Luminance Noise Reduction, and Dust & Scratches heaped on top of each other here across the entire image that's going to gum up the works significantly.
We're not only getting rid of much of the noise, notice not all of the noise, some of the noise is hanging on because we did rule out 6 luminance levels of noise there inside of the Dust & Scratches filter, so some still remains. However, we've done quite the number on the actual details inside the butterfly's face. It looks like he has a soft serve ice cream cone mounted to the front of his face, whereas if you Shift+Click on the layer mask thumbnail once again in order to re-apply that layer mask, then we have something more closely resembling white bug fur or whatever that is, and so we've got that good highlight detail protected.
So it does make a big contribution to the quality of this overall composition. In the next exercise, we're going to rein in some of these intensely saturated colors here in the shadows.
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