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In this movie I'll introduce you to the Reduce Noise Filter, which is your primary means for defeating noise in Photoshop. Now, where digital photographs are concerned, noise breaks down into two categories and I've gone ahead and separated them here, even though they normally work together inside of a photo. Up at the top we've got Luminance noise, which is random variations in the luminance of neighboring pixels; and down at the bottom we have Color noise, which is random variations in the color values, that is to say random variations in the luminance that varies from one color channel to the other.
And if I go ahead and zoom in here, you can see it even more closely. So we've got Luminance noise at the top, separated from Color noise down here at the bottom. All right, I'll go ahead and zoom back out. I also want you to notice that the high contrast noise is collected here toward the center of the image, whereas we have low contrast noise around the perimeter of the image. Now, the reason that I've separated the Luminance noise and Color noise is because Photoshop allows you to attack Luminance noise and Color noise independently. So to show you how that works, I am going to turn off my two text layers and then I am going to go ahead and merge the remaining layers onto a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E or Cmd+Shift+E on the Mac.
Now we've got this new layer 1 that contains all of the photographic stuff and I'll go ahead and rename it graduated noise like so. And now, because I want to be able to edit my reduced noise values, I'll convert this layer to a Smart Object by going up to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object. Or if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press my shortcut of Ctrl+, or Cmd+, on the Mac. Next, I want you to go up to the Filter menu, choose Noise, and choose the final command, Reduce Noise, which I've given a shortcut of Shift+F9; again, if you've loaded dekeKeys.
Notice that we have a total of four numerical values over on the right side of the dialog box. They include Strength, which attacks Luminance noise only. Preserve Details serves as a counterbalance for Strength and it tries to bring back the highest contrast edges, along with the highest contrast noise as we'll see. Then we've got Reduce Color Noise, which affects the Color noise independently of the Luminance noise. And finally, we have Sharpen Details, which goes ahead and sharpens up the highest contrast, luminance edges.
All right, let me show you what I mean by all that. Let's focus first on the Luminance noise. I am going to click on this little hard drive icon right there and I am going to create a new settings called Luminance noise. And then I'll press the Enter key, the Return key on the Mac. Next, you need to go and switch over to that setting so you don't ruin your defaults. And I'll go ahead and take Reduce Color Noise down to 0 and then take Sharpen Details down to 0% as well. Now, notice I can take Strength as low as 0, and as soon as I do, Preserve Details becomes dimmed, because it no longer serves any purpose.
You have to have some Strength at work to use Preserve Details. But because my image is so noisy, I am going to take this value all the way up to 10. And you can see that it does almost nothing where the high contrast noise in the image is concerned. That's because Preserve Details is set so very high by default. Let's go ahead and take it down to 0 for starters here. Then I'll zoom in on the Preview here inside the dialog box by clicking on the Plus (+)bu tton. And notice, we've done a big number on the low contrast noise, around the perimeter of the image; we're looking at the upper left corner currently, and we've also gotten rid of a lot of the high contrast noise as well.
But in reducing that high contrast noise, we've also reduced the sharpness of the details inside the photograph. So you need to take this value up to some extent, and I'm actually nudging it up from the keyboard by pressing the Up Arrow Key. Notice where this image is concerned, even at a very low Preserve Details setting of 5%, we are bringing back the high contrast noise as you can see here, along with the details. And that's because of the way Photoshop interprets details, that is to say rapid luminance transitions between neighboring pixels.
So I am going to go ahead and take this value up to 10%, and in doing so I bring back the good stuff inside the image, but I also bring back the high contrast noise, whereas if I scroll to the upper left-hand corner, you can see that the low contrast noise remains quelled. All right, I'll go ahead and click the OK button in order to accept those settings. So I've got a Strength of 10; Preserve Details of 10% as well. All right, now just to reduce clutter inside the Layers panel, I am going to right-click inside that Filter Mask and choose Delete Filter Mask. If you loaded dekeKeys, you can also press Ctrl+Alt+Q or Cmd+Option+Q on a Mac.
Now let me show you how the Color noise option works. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+J or Cmd+J on the Mac to make a copy of that layer and I'll turn it off. Then for the bottom version here, let's just go ahead and rename graduated noise color noise, so we can see there's a difference. And I'll double-click on the words Reduce Noise in order to bring up the Reduce Noise panel. And I'll save some new settings by clicking on that little hard drive icon. Get rid of the word Copy, replace the word Luminance with Color, click OK. And very important, I need to switch my Settings from Luminance noise to Color noise before I change a single value.
Now I'll reduce the Strength value to 0. That dims the Preserve Details value, so I don't have to worry about it. And I'll take the Reduce Color Noise value up to 50%. And I want you to see now the Luminance noise has not been modified at all, Photoshop leaves it alone. Whereas, if I scroll down to the Color noise, you can see that it's pretty much altogether defeated around the perimeter of the image, but it's still hanging on toward the center of the image where we have the high contrast color noise. So let's see what happens if I take it all the way up to 100%, then nearly all of the Color noise goes away.
I'll click on the Plus (+) button so we can see here that we still have just a little bit of Color noise; there is the original Color noise when I click and hold, and when I release, almost all of it goes away, except the very high contrast noise inside of the model's face. All right, now I'll click OK in order to apply those settings. Now then, finally, I want to show you how the Sharpen option works. I am going to turn the graduated noise layer back on and you can see that all the Color noise goes back, because we hadn't reduced any of the Color noise on this layer. And I'll switch to that layer and double-click on Reduce Noise in order to bring up the dialog box, as well as the settings I had applied to that layer, with one exception, Settings is changed back to Color noise; we need to switch it to Luminance noise just so we don't wipe out our Color noise settings.
Pretty much a big pain in the neck, it's kind of a design flaw where this dialog box is concerned. However, what I want you to notice is what happens if I go ahead and zoom in, let's say, to the upper left region of the image where we've got the low noise, notice I'll increase my Sharpen Details value to 50% and those upper right pixels are pretty much unaffected, and that's because Sharpen Details focuses its attention on the high contrast edges. So as soon as I start zooming in toward the central portion of the image, you can see that the image itself is getting sharpened, but so is the high contrast noise.
Things get even worse if you start increasing this value further. And notice, if you take Sharpen Details up to 100%, I'll go ahead and zoom out here, this is just the worst possible sharpening algorithm you could hope for, which is why I am going to tell you just flat out, leave this value set to 0%, there are much better ways to sharpen high noise images, as I will be showing you over the course of this chapter. So those are the basics of working with the Reduce Noise Filter. I'll show you how to apply it to an actual digital photograph in the next movie.
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