Featuring The World Famous Toronto Skyline

Night photography with long exposures reveals all the ambient light, punches up reflections…but with that comes the noise. The digital grain that sneaks out from the darker areas of your scene. Even when using a low ISO, long exposures are subject to noise.

Let your photos shine in their noise free glory! (click to enlarge)

Toronto Skyline by Marc Mantha

Adobe PhotoShop Noise ReductionWhich Noise Reduction App Should I Use?

PhotoShop’s own noise reduction works well.  It’s found under Filters > Noise >Reduce Noise from the file menu.

Other popular noise exterminators are Noise Ninja, Neat Image and Topaz DeNoise. I’ve worked with Noise Ninja and Neat Image extensively and more recently started using Topaz DeNoise. These are just a few. They all have trial versions for test driving.

Topaz DeNoise

So far, Topaz DeNoise is a personal favorite. The algorithms seem well developed to recognize what’s noise on a full resolution print to a web optimized image within the tolerance you can select like Light, Moderate, Strong presets or custom settings. Overall it really cleans out the grain well on long exposures or resolves your high ISO’s digital grain.

Compare Before And After

Below are zoomed in sections, before and after (extracted from the photo above), of the multicolored light reflecting over the water. It’s more like noise elimination than noise reduction. On parts of the photo with architectural details, it maintains those details very well. Crisper than some other noise apps and clearer.

No noise reduction

No Noise Reduction

 Noise reduction with Topaz DeNoise

Noise Reduction Topaz DeNoise

After The Noise

Once the noise has been cleaned up, I’ll apply my Lab Sharpening Technique sometimes followed by a High Pass Filter with an Overlay Blending Mode at a lowered opacity.

More on Lab Sharpening how to here…

Lab Sharpening Technique for Web Optimized Image

Lab Sharpening Technique for Print Images

The High Pass Filter – Finishing Touches

The High Pass Filter has been part of PhotoShop as far back as I can remember. You can map out the fine lines and details easily with a few simple steps.

Layers PaletteWith your photo open using PhotoShop, do the following :

Step 1

Create a duplicate layer or your original image. Drag the original layer down to the bottom of the layers palette onto the Create a New Layer icon OR from the file menu at the top, select Layer > Duplicate Layer.

Step 2

From the file menu at the top of the screen, go to Filter > Other > High Pass… Your image turns gray (see below) with light outlines of the details. Move the High Pass slider radius adjustment, just enough to reveal the finer details and OK.

PhotoShop High Pass Filter

Step 3

At the top of the layers palette, select the Overlay blending mode. Your image returns to full color with the extra High Pass filter pop.

Step 4 –

Now use the Opacity slider at the top of the layers palette to reduce the impact of your High Pass layer.

Now you’re cooking! Have fun experimenting.

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