How To Do Noise Reduction with A Portrait Photograph
This post is all about Noise Reduction, for when photographs have a very high ISO setting of 320 to 800 or even higher. For those who do not know about ISO or what it does. The ISO is the setting which controls the light sensitivity of your camera and for the photographs you are taking especially when you need high shutter speeds for lower light conditions. Higher the ISO, there higher chances of noise on your photographs. This noise looks like little speckles of colour when the photograph should either be blurred or smooth depending on your aperture. Last year Sylvia and I went out and did a small photoshoot of her wearing a Rachel Riley dress. It was a Yellow dress with red butterflies printed on the dress.
In photograph Fig 1.1, you will see what appear to be some slight speckles on the photograph Sylvia’s face. This is what is referred to or known as noise. This tutorial is going take you through steps on how to reduce the noise and make the portrait more appealing. Now, I have to admit that I had the ISO or light sensitivity up to 800, which is too high for outdoor portrait photography. My ISO should have been about 200 with my white balance set to Auto or cloudy.
Fig 1.2 is the fully edited version of the photograph. I used a preset (a preset group of settings or sliders where they make the adjustments for you, so you don’t have to), where I lightened the skin tones and flattened some of the colours. I also made some of the background colours more profound, like the grass and tried to enhance Sylvia’s eye colour. As she was squinting in this photograph, this makes seeing her full eye colour a bit difficult to see. Overall, this is still a great portrait. To add variety, I made a few duplicates and changed them to Black and White, with some subtle changes to the toning of the final image.
Please Click on the photographs to Enlarge!
I always love the ‘Creamtone – Black and White’ effect for my photographs. I created a standard black and white to complete the variety for each of the photographs.
How to Make the Noise Reduction from Within Lightroom CC
Now I am going to explain ‘How to‘ make the noise reduction from within Adobe Lightroom. I am using Lightroom CC for this tutorial, but I am sure this will work in Adobe Lightroom 5 if you are using the stand-alone version.
In Fig 1.5 for the Sharpening Panel, the sliders are set to default positions. For the ‘Masking‘ slider, I moved to about half way of 50 as shown in the above image. There was no real need to do any sharpening with this photograph, so I left the sharpening alone for another time should I need to go back to it.
Now we come to the actual ‘Noise Reduction‘ panel. For reducing the noise in the photograph, you may need to zoom in on your image a substantial amount to see the changes you will be making on the ‘Luminance slider‘. To get the best results for noise reduction, move the ‘Luminance‘ slider to about ‘50‘, but as you keep your mouse over the slider. Move your up or down arrows on the keyboard to increase or lower the numbers. I raised the Luminance slider all the way up to 80 but saw no changes. I pressed the ‘Down‘ arrow button and lowered the number to 70 until I saw some subtle changes. At ‘75‘ is where the noise reductions changes stopped. You don’t have to worry too much about pressing the ‘Up‘ or ‘Down’ arrows too much, as the slider moves increments of 5. The only really thing you will need to think about is the speed of your computer. For every change on the ‘Luminance’ slider, needs time to render to your photograph. Another thing to also remember, if you increase the contrast, you are also increasing the amount of noise on the photograph. So I tend to think of contrast as Noise increase rather than noise reduction. It is worthwhile leaving the detail on the ‘Detail set to default or at 50. The sliders below ‘Contrast‘ on the Noise Reduction panel, I tend to leave them at midway or ‘50‘ as shown in Fig 1.6
As I mentioned above, I converted some of my duplicated images into Creamtone. This is one of my most used ‘Preset’ besides my import preset. Yes, I have an import reset too. Once I have converted to ‘Creamtone’, I just make subtle changes to the exposure and contrast where necessary. That is how you ‘Reduce Noise’ in your photographs and it really is that simple and straightforward. Try it. You may find how simple it is and if you know how to create your own preset’s, you can have it ready for when you really need it.
P.s. Here is just a small gallery of all the photographs I made changes to. These are my favourites out of the entire photoshoot. Please comment when you have a moment.