I often see photographs pass by covered in sometimes a very, very thick layer of noise, and I always ask myself:
"Why did the photographer choose not to remove it? Is it because they don't know how to?"
Noise is something that, in my opinion, can definitely break your photograph. Most people love to see clear, crisp shots and if a photograph is covered in noise.. it is quite often, here on deviantArt, that your work will not be accepted in to groups just for that very reason. I am not a big fan of noise either. There obviously are occassions where "noise" works well, if used correctly, however, that is not usually called noise but "grain". Let's take a look at the difference between noise and grain before we move on:
This is noise. In this case, caused by a high ISO setting.
This is a grain.
Can you see the difference between the two? Noise often brings some of his friends along in the form of some ugly and weird colour patches in extreme cases, but even with lighter cases, you can see them when you zoom in. Grain is much "cleaner", and used decoratively. It often works extremely well in black and white photographs to achieve the "old photograph" effect.
In this tutorial, you will learn about removing that cheeky bastard called "noise" (and also his friends).
Since there are many software out there, I decided to go with what is most "popular", Adobe Photoshop, and one of the free Noise Reducing software on my Photography Resources List
, "Neat Image".
So if you don't have Photoshop, scroll down to the second part of this tutorial!
Let's start off with opening our noisy photograph up in Photoshop. In this case, I am taking the example noise photograph I used above. It should look something like this:
When you open this screenshot, you will see that I opened my .CR2 file in Photoshop. This is the format Canon uses for RAW files. If you use Nikon, this will be a .NEF file, and with Sony this is likely .SR2. Every brand has a different file extension, but in the end, they're all RAW and they work the exact same way. (If you want to learn more about RAW, keep an eye on my Photography 101
course, I will be doing a chapter on that soon.)STEP TWO.
First off, it helps to zoom in so you can see more details, like how the strong the noise on your photography really is...
In this case: very strong.STEP THREE.
Let's locate the option to reduce noise in Photoshop.
FILTER - NOISE - REDUCE NOISE
Go ahead and click it!
Once you've clicked on "Reduce Noise", you will see this:
In this window you can play with the settings and figure out what cleans up your image. In cases of noise as strong as in this case, it's not always possible to clean it up all the way, though it will definitely improve the quality of your photograph a LOT. You just have to be careful not to overdo it, or you might experience some loss of detail (There is always a catch!).
When I was done, it looked like this:
Quite the improvement, right? Even though I didn't get it all, it looks a lot better now!
You can take a look at the photograph here:
However, not everybody has photoshop, which is why I decided to pick one of the free software of my Photography Resources List
to show you in there as well.
Let's open the photograph in Neat Image
As you can see, this looks a whole lot different than Photoshop, however, this program is solely for the purpose of reducing noise, so there is nothing else you can do with it. But, that's totally okay.
As you can see, I opened a .JPEG version of this file in Neat Image, this is because the demo version of Neat Image that we can use for free has some restrictions, and one of them is that you can not open RAW files in it. This is not a problem, noise reduction also works on .JPEG, but my recommendation is to always work on RAW files if possible. STEP TWO.
Pick a "noise profile"
In the top, you can see all these little "tabs", "Input Image", "Device Noise Profile", "Noise Filter Settings" and "Output Image". We will need to click on "Device Noise Profile".
As you can see, we have acquired some new buttons underneath the tabs. Let's do this the lazy way and let the program figure out the noise profile for us.
Click on "Auto Profile".
The program will pick up a piece of noise and "analyze" it. STEP THREE.
Click on the tab "Noise Filter Settings", next to the tab we clicked in step two.
After you click, the software will start to filter your image. Depending on the size of your image and the specifications of your computer, this can take a little while. Be patient!
When it's done, it will say "Filtered" in the top right corner of the image, as you can see in my screenshot. This is also the point where you can tweak some of the settings if you are not satisfied with what the software has delivered to you, these settings are on the right side of the program.
Once your satisfied with your image, click on "Output Image". This is the part where we save the image to our harddrive.
The software will filter the image again here, also to apply your new settings if you have changed any. I haven't, in this case.
Now you click on File - Save Output Image As... or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S.
Pick the location where you want to save your image, and hit save.
This is the result I got:
That's it! Easy, right?
I hope this helps, and if you have questions, please ask them!
If you want to learn more about Photography, make sure to check out my group PhotographyGuide
This tutorial was made for the following groups:
Do you want it in your group as well? Feel free to request it!