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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we are going to touch on the one command under the Noise sub-menu, under the Filter menu that we haven't looked at thus far and that's Reduce Noise, and Reduce Noise is an exceedingly important command inside of Photoshop. It is basically a noise reduction factory and it works very, very well. It's a very intelligent next generation filter. So by stark contrast to some of the goofy filters that we have seen. I'm working inside of a very noisy image called Sam with plaster.jpg and this is my youngest. We were actually making a mask that we had molded to his face and then we took the mask off it was starting to set and there is this sort of goop that you have to put down and keep the mask from sticking to his face and he has got that and some of the plaster is still on there and he is laying on his back and he has absolutely the most neutral sort of innocent expression on his face. He looks like Danny from the Shining or something like that.
I am going to go and zoom in though so that we can see this is an exceptionally noisy photograph for two reasons. One, I used the high ISO setting of 720, so there is noise inherent in high ISO settings. And also, I had a little bit of camera shake. Whenever you have blurry detail inside of an image noise tends to just sort of broil up essentially. Especially, if you go add it with Smart Sharpen's Motion Blur Removal function and that just enhance the noise that much further. So this image is just ramping with noise. Hopefully most of the images that you attack won't have quite this much.
All right, I'm going to Shift+Tab away the palettes there and zoom out a click and go ahead and move Sammy over to the side a little bit so that we can still take him in as we use the big ginormous Reduce Noise function. Go up to the Filter menu, choose Noise and choose Reduce Noise or you can press Shift+F9 if you loaded Deke keys, and that brings up as I was saying a very large dialog box here. I'll go ahead and train it on his eye for a moment. We have four options that we'll be discussing four numerical options and a few other things going on. But just so that we can focus our attention on the image to the highest degree possible in this fairly small monitor space here I'm going to move this dialog box over to the side, so that we can see the whopping big preview of Sammy as well as the numerical options inside the dialog box, clever! All right, so I'm going to move Sammy just over a little bit so his eyes are more or less centered there. First of all I tell you that I think the default settings, which we are seeing right here 6, 60, 45, 25, are too conservative.
They are good for images that just have a little bit of noise, if your goal is to fix this image, we definitely need higher settings because it is so very, very grainy. All right, so these guys are in opposition to each other and so Strength gets rid of noise, Preserve Details downplays the effects of strength. Reduce Color Noise gets rid of Noise. Sharpen Details then reduces the effects of Reduced Color Noise and Strength just so as you know and I'll explain in more detail. Strength is actually getting rid of luminance noise, so random variations and neighboring pixels that are the effect of luminance variations. This is the way I almost always start by increasing the Strength value to its maximum of 10, and I really wish this value went higher than 10. I frequently land on photographs like this one here that could use a higher Strength setting than this and then I cranked Preserve Details all the way down. What Preserve Details is doing is it's trying to preserve the edges inside of the image, so where it finds big differences in luminance between neighboring pixels that tries to keep those big differences and if we just get rid of Preserve Details take it down to 0 then we are just solid strength, we are just applying the Strength value there.
Then we'll go ahead and crank up the Reduce Noise function, which is just getting rid of color noise to 100%, that of course random color variations between neighboring pixels. The whole point of Sharpen Details is to basically reverse the effects of Strength and Reduce Color Noise by going in and applying a layer sharpening. So it's going to sharpen very tiny details you don't have any control over Radius. If I increase the Sharpen Details setting to 100% and you have to wait for it typically inside of an image and then you zoom in, which I'll do here by Ctrl+Spacebar+Clicking or Command+ Spacebar+Clicking on the Mac, and I'll go ahead and zoom in even farther and you can see that we've got this wormy effect that's showing up here inside of the image, so we are doing a fair amount of damage. I can make it look much worse if I took down the Strength value.
Notice now, that we are just absolutely creating these little sort of iron filings inside the image, these little lines with shadows and highlights, it's just terrible. So can be good for bringing out little tendrils of hair and other just tiny details, and of course, threads of fabric and grain inside of wood and all that good stuff, but if you are working with a portrait shot like this one here ostensibly then I recommend you take it down to -- 25% is the highest I would ever go and most of the time I'll take it down much, much lower than that, and you know what for this image, I'm saying just get rid of Sharpen Details, we'll follow this up with a separate sharpening pass that will do this image a heck of a lot more good than the Sharpen Details function ever will.
All right, now, I go back to Reduce Color Noise and I say, you know do I really want this much color noise reduction because at 100% you are going to have a lot of color bleed. In other words, the lips are going to bleed into the flesh, the irises are going to bleed into the flesh. The irises are going to bleed into the whites of the eyes and we are going to lose color definition inside the eyes a lot, that's the thing that's going to be effected the most, and of course out here where we have transitions between for example, the green of his shirt and the red of this blanket and the flesh color of this fleshy face. Live in we are going to have color bleed there too.
So I'm going to take this value down to something like 40%. See if we can regain some of the good colors inside this image because in as much as this there is just ton of noise inside this image, the fault is almost exclusively luminance noise, it has very little to do with color noise. So I might take it down even farther than that to something like let's say 25% and see how things look, and they look quite good I think at that setting. Then if you want to at this point you can raise the Preserve Details value and I'm going to take it up to 10% just by pressing Shift+Up Arrow because I want you to see how even at 10% we are really bringing back a lot of the noise inside this particular image. So I'll zoom in a little farther. Let's switch to a different part of the image than the nose, why don't we? Take in the eye right here, so this is a value of 0 just for the sake of comparison and if I raise it to 10%, I'm bringing back a lot of that noise very, very quickly.
So what I'm going to do instead is take this down to 0 once again and just judge it up from the keyboard to like 3 and see what that gives me and that's about as high as Id want to take it in this image and as I say, this is a very high noise image that I'm trying to address. All right, then I'm going to go ahead and save off my settings, why not? So I'll click on the little floppy disk icon, universal for Save of course, and I'll name this Big noise to remind me that this is for my big noise images that I might run into, and he is such a big boy. Now with Big noise, click OK in order to create that new setting and then of course you've got to choose it just like Smart Sharpen. Same problem where you have to choose Big noise or you are going to override default. So go ahead and choose that setting and that way you'll preserve your defaults, we'll come back to what Basic and Advanced mean and remove JPEG Artifact, we'll see that in a moment and go ahead and click OK in order to accept this modified version of the image. And just to give you a sense what we were able to achieve here, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to show the before version of the image and Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to show the after version.
Now I'm very, very tempted to try this command again and I'm just going to press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac to replay the Reduce Noise command to see what happened. But I'm actually pretty happy with this effect. If you decide you've gone too far as well you might, you could press Ctrl+Shift+F, command+Shift+F on the Mac for the Fade command as you may recall, Fade under the Edit menu and then take this Opacity value back to something like 50% let's say to mix things up just a little bit. And then after you get down with the Reduce Noise that's when you want to sharpen the photograph. Now, I had already sharpened in advance choosing Smart Sharpen to get rid of the effects of camera shake that's something you do before Reduce Noise, but then in your print sharpening you would do after Reduce Noise. And I'll just go ahead and show you how that works in the next exercise.
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