Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Applying sharpening and noise reduction, part of Lightroom 3 New Features.
With this photograph we're going to explore how we can apply an appropriate amount of sharpening and noise reduction. Whenever you think of sharpening and noise reduction, you typically think of starting off in the Detail panel, but that's actually not the correct beginning point. What we need to do before we do anything in regards to the overall sharpening or noise reduction is we need to go to the Basic panel. In the Basic panel we need to dial in a lot of these different controls, and let me explain. Well, first let's go ahead and zoom into 100%.
We can do so by clicking on the 1-1 icon in the Navigator panel. All right. Well now that we're here at 100%, let's modify our Exposure. Well, if decrease the Exposure, you notice I have less noise and the image also appears different. It doesn't look quite as sharp. As I increase the Exposure, I now have more noise. Again, I'm exaggerating here, but I just want to point out that what you want do is dial in your settings before you actually go to the Detail panel. Another area that's really important is the Fill Light, because what Fill Light will do is it will bring light into the shadow areas.
And a lot of times, it's in those midtone shadows there that we have some of this noise problem. So if we're bringing light into an area that's already noisy we need to do that first before we do any sharpening or noise reduction. I am going to go ahead and double-click this slider just to take that back to 0 and then increase this just subtly until I like the way the image looks. Next, we also need to think about contrast. If we decrease the Contrast the image looks soft, we also notice it desaturates the color. As we increase the Contrast, we get more color saturation and the edges become more defined.
So again, you just want to dial in your contrast and of course Clarity because you can see that is going to change the overall shape of the photograph and dimension and some of that midtown contrast range. So before you do any sharpening or noise reduction, just make sure that you go through all of the different settings in your Basic panel and some of your other panels in order to get the image exactly where you want it. Next, head down to the Detail panel, and let's expand this so that we have this little preview window.
What we can do here is click and drag to pan around this, or we can also use this tool and hover over the image in order to target a specific area. Next, click in order to set that tool and to set the preview to this particular location. In this way what we can do is have say 100% view here in this small window and next we can go to the Navigator. We can actually change our view. Let's go to 1:2 view, which is a little bit zoomed out, so we are seeing two different perspectives here, one which is up close and one which is a little bit more pulled back.
Now you don't always have to use this little window, although at times it can be helpful. Well, here in my case I am going to go ahead and close that so we can just focus in on the image over here. Now in this particular view, I get this warning message which is telling me, "hey, you know what, you probably want to zoom into 100% or greater in order to see the actual amount that you're applying in regards to your sharpening and your noisereduction." So here we will simply click on this icon to zoom back in. Well, once we zoom in, I notice that I have some noise in the background, a bit of color noise and luminance noise.
So I am going to increase my Luminance slider, and I actually like to start off with just a small amount of sharpening, and then I like to dial in these sliders here. What I'm looking to do is to reduce some of the variation in the background while maintaining some of the details. I'm also thinking that what will happen typically here is we are going to soften the image. We're going to soften it too much but we'll bring back some of the sharpness in a moment with these Sharpening sliders. Next we will work with our Color sliders here, and again we're just a going to modify this a couple of different ways.
I always find it's helpful to click on this switch here. Here is before without anything, and then here is after. That gives us a nice perspective of how we're doing. Well, what about the Sharpening? With the Sharpening what you typically want is you want to have a Radius which is going to be less than probably about 2, and most of the time this is going to be even less than 1. What this Radius will do is it will prevent kind of ghosting or glowing edges which is a sure sign of giving away too much sharpening. So with this case, I am going to start with a Radius of little bit less than 1.
A nice way to view the Radius is a hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click on this, and you can see how your edges are going to increase or decrease. That's why you are going to see that you are going to want to stay within this range down here, so that you don't have too much of that edge glow. Next, let's hold down the Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and click on the Amount and here we can bring this up, and you can see what's happening as it's increasing the noise and the texture. So, we want to find just the right spot for a Sharpening Amount. Now what about Detail? Well, as we increase Detail, we know that brings out all of the texture and artifacts.
We don't want that. So it's a photograph of person. We remove the detail completely. Once I do that, my Amount may seem a little bit low so I might want to increase that just a touch. Next, Masking. Hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows and then click on the Masking icon and increase this. Here what we can do is limit the sharpening. We can conceal it, so it's not sharpening the background or the skin-tone. It just focused in on the edges, and this Sharpening is doing a pretty nice job. Let's evaluate.
Here we have that before and then after. We have nice structure in regards to the face. It doesn't look overly painterly. We reduced the noise in some pretty phenomenal ways. What we may want to do next is work on our Radius just a little or overall Sharpening, also our Noise Reduction. We want to work with all these sliders and kind of bounce back and forth between these, because as we decrease the detail, you notice that it affected our overall Luminance slider. More detail there, and we have more luminance noise and so we can then go and affect that this way as well.
Just make sure to keep in mind that you want to kind of bounce around a little bit as you dial in these different amounts. Well, let's just double-check our color detail here and I am swinging it one way and another and also working on the Detail slider there as well. I just want to get this image to look really good. What we're looking for here is what's called input sharpening. Because we're sharpening the native RAW file, and what's important about that is that RAW files are always soft and they always have too much noise. So we want to get this RAW file to a good place and then later in our workflow, we will apply something which is called output sharpening.
In other words, sharpening the specific to a particular paper type at a particular dimension and particular resolution. So here we're just trying to get the image to look good onscreen and to look good in these different views. Now sometimes with a really high- res files, it's helpful to zoom out a little bit and here I'll go to that 1:2 view and just take a look at this, kind of stepping back. Because sometimes when you zoom in so far, you're actually seeing too much detail and as I zoom out with this photograph, you know what I realize I probably have just a bit too much Luminance Noise Reduction.
So I am going to reduce that just a little bit there. I am going to also modify my detail as well. So again just experiment a little bit with some of these different views and what you'll soon discover is that you'll develop a sensibility which will help you determine how much noise reduction works with your particular camera and lens and the particular lighting scenario. All right. Well, finally I am going to go back to that 1:1 view just to double-check everything, and then I will click and drag and pan around the image. I just want to evaluate the photograph and look at the different areas of the image, because we will notice that some areas will be affected in different ways.
Next, I am going to make my back to the main subject of this photograph. The area where I have the most detail, the most sharpness, and make sure that that looks good. Well, here with this photograph, at least on my monitor, it's looking great and along the way, we learned about how to work with the Detail panel and how to apply an appropriate amount of Sharpening and Noise Reduction.
- Importing and managing photos and video clips
- Improving efficiency with enhanced collections
- Applying sharpening and noise reduction
- Mastering the enhanced adjustment brush, graduated filter, and vignette features
- Improving images with the Point Tone Curve
- Adding audio to slideshows
- Creating custom print packages
- Importing on-the-fly with tethered shooting
- Publishing photos to Flickr
- Publishing to a smart folder and smart photoset
- Upgrading Lightroom 2 catalogs and working with legacy images
- Making and working with creative watermarks