Quick Tip About Reducing Noise

I’m not a fan of noise reduction at all, because to me (just my opinion) it does something worse than what noise does to my image  — it blurs the image (that’s essentially what noise reduction does – it’s blurs the image to hide the noise), so I’m not a fan of something that erases all the time and expense I put into getting sharp shots. Again, just my opinion (plus the fact that the only people on earth who notice noise are other photographers, but I digress).

Anyway, that being said – if you have to use any type of noise reduction, my tip would be this: why ruin your entire image by applying noise reduction when you can just ruin part of it?

Here’s what I mean:
If you have noise in your image, chances are it’s in the shadow areas of your image, and if you had to open up (lighten) the image at all, any noise in those shadow areas is now more apparent. If that’s the case (you mostly notice the noise is a particular area of your image) try this:

STEP ONE: Get the Adjustment Brush; double-click the word “Effect” at the top of the Adjustment Brush panel to reset all the sliders to zero.

noisetyd

STEP TWO: Now drag the Noise Reduction slider to the right quite a bit (as shown above), and then paint over just that noisy area. That way, you don’t slightly blur your entire image to fix a problem in just one area.

STEP THREE: Once you’ve painted over that area, take the slider and adjust it trying to find the right amount — that sweet spot between reducing noise and blurring that area.

Give that a shot next time some noise is creeping into an image, and see if only blurring part of your image is better than blurring all of it. Just a thought (and if you’re a noise reduction lover, no need to retaliate in the comments – just giving folks something to try – you don’t have to change a thing if you’re happy with blurring your images).

OK, that’s it for today!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Tomorrow is “Blind Photo Critique Day” on The Grid with our in-studio guest, lifestyle portrait photographer Erik Valind. Submit your “portrait photos” for critique at this link right here, and we’ll see you tomorrow at 4pm EDT for the show at http://kelbytv.com/thegrid

 

Author: Scott Kelby

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books. You can learn more about Scott at http://scottkelby.com

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  10. I wish Lr had a masking slider just like sharpening. Or maybe two sliders, one for the highlights and one for the shadows.

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  11. Hi Scott,

    I have a question for you on Noise. My camera is a Canon 7D and it does a pretty good job in low light situations. However, once I get above 4,000 ISO, the noise in my images is just terrible. Of course I only use these high ISO numbers when I’m in low light and no tripod. Any suggestions on handling this noise?

    Thanks for the great info!

    Dennis

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  12. Aloha Scott, Thank you so much for sharing these tips. It will make a world of difference Aloha and Mahalo, Anthony

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