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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.
Welcome to the chapter on noise reduction or noise removal. In this chapter, you going to learn a handful of different techniques that you can use in order to remove noise from your images. Now I'm going to show you different techniques because each of our images will have a little bit different kind of noise and in addition there isn't one technique that's best for noise removal. So first I just want to comment on noise in general. This photograph has noise is in it as a result of shooting that an ISO 1600. This other photograph that I captured of the musician Eddie Vedder. The ISO was at 640, so it's going to have noise in it, but it's going to be a different type. The ISO isn't as high.
It has this really unique lighting, so we are going to see some different types of noise. So based on the type of noise, we are going to need to attack the problem a little bit differently. Let's first start off on this file here. We will go ahead double-click to open that one in Photoshop and then double-click the Zoom tool to take this image to 100%. Now when we zoom on this image, we see for the most part it's sharp, I was shooting it with the 70-200 lens except that ISO 1600 is just giving me some problems up in here. Now how then can I correct that? Well one technique that we can use is actually kind of interesting. We will go ahead and Right-click and choose Convert to Smart Objects, I go ahead and double- click on in that layer Fly for this flying motorcycle guy and then I'm going to navigate to my Filter pulldown menu, now I choose Blur and Surface Blur. Well, what Surface Blur can do is, it can allow us to find areas that are somewhat similar and then reduce the Noise on those areas.
So, I'm going to go ahead and increase the overall Radius here and then slowly bring up my Threshold. Now if I bring up my threshold too far, we are going to start to see that it will blur out the character here, the guy, we can see it when I go real exaggerated and right there even you can see how it's a loss of detail on the person, when I click on that. That's the before, let go, that's the after. So I go ahead and keep this really simple. I want a real nice subtle noise reduction. That looks pretty good there. Want to make sure my levels are good, click OK to apply that. Now let's zoom in even further so we can see how we have done. Here is our before and after. Well so far so good, except one of things I'm noting is that I have reduced noise on the guy, which I don't like, i.e I have lost detail there. How can I fix that? Well I click on that layer, grab one of my Selection tools, like the Quick Select tool, I'll go ahead and paint around this guy and go ahead and navigate around here and just make some quick selections. I'm not trying to be too careful here, because I want these selections to be somewhat rough, simply because, I know they can be, because we have such a strong solid background color there.
I'm going to make sure I get the entirety of the motorcycle or at least most of it and again this is a demo, so I'm not going to get all the little tiny details but that looks pretty good for a real rough selection. Little bit more on the shoe here and then up there, then click into the mask layer. I'll now fill with black. That's Option+Delete on the Mac/Alt+Delete on a PC. So we brought some of the nice detail back on the guy. Go to select the Deselect, now we need to reselect this area right. So we will go ahead and click in there hold down the Shift key, click right here and then click in our mask, press Command+Delete on a Mac/Ctrl+Delete on a PC. Let's take a look at how we are doing, before and after. Well so far what we are seeing is that, yeah we definitely reduced a lot of the noise from the background. Here is our before and here is our after.
Now, one of the things that's kind of nice about Smart Filters that we haven't talked about is you can actually add to this. So I'm going to go ahead and navigate to Filter and then I'm going to choose Blur and Surface Blur one more time. Now this time what I'm going to do is lower my Threshold and Radius way down. I'm going to zoom pretty far in here, I'm just going to look at the green structure of this, I'm going to increase my Radius just a touch there, a little tiny bit of Threshold and we can see I'm reducing some of the noise around edges. Click OK to apply that. Now, let's take a look at how we are doing. Here we have two different type of Surface Blur. We have the first one and then that second one which just smoothed things out even further. That will be a little bit tricky to see because I'm zoomed pretty far out, I'll zoom into this part of the helmet, you can see how I'm just cleaning up those edges a touch there. I'll go ahead and zoom out, see if we can catch that view there at all. Well hopefully you can see it a little bit; the sky on my monitor looks so much better.
Again it's going to be tricky to see in this movie because that's a subtle adjustment. Yet one of the things that we are discovering here is that we can use Surface Blur, when we have large areas of similar tones and we want to begin to reduce the noise in those areas and then in addition we can create a mask to limit the adjustment to specific areas, in this case we are limiting it to just the areas that are blue and all right that wraps up my first noise reduction tip for you.
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