Noise reduction in photos with blurry backgrounds – a quick n dirty workflow


Rauschunterdrückung in Fotos mit verschwommenem Hintergrund - Quick n Dirty Workflow

As I promised last week here is my „quick and dirty“ noise reduction workflow for photos with blurry backgrounds. Noise is most apparent in those blurry parts of the photo. In those areas which are in focus, the sharp detail “masks” the (luminance) noise.

This approach is “quick and dirty” precisely because its aim is to provide usable results without great effort. Putting more time into each image yields much better results, but at some point you need to put in a lot of effort for a miniscule additional benefit. This is why this workflow is made up of only three steps. I’m assuming that every reader of this article uses his or her Sigma camera to shoot RAW / X3F and that he or she develops said files in Sigma Photo Pro. For this reason nobody should be surprised that the first step involves SPP and that it consists of reducing or turning off any form of sharpening. Foveon photos are sharp enough as is. There is no need to accentuate luminance noise any further.

After exporting the photo either as a TIFF or JPG, you need to take care of chrominance noise in Lightrrom. The settings best suited for achieving this goal is setting Color to 100 and increasing Smoothness from 50 to 100.

 

Increasing Smoothness makes it possible for the Lightroom noise reduction feature to better “catch” those large color clumps which are typical for Foveon chroma noise. You can see all of this for yourself in the crops below. These are the lower right corner of the image.

Without chroma NR

With Smoothness set to 50

With Smoothness set to 100

 

The third step consists of using the adjustment brush to paint over the blurry areas. It is important to increase the Feather value while doing so, in order to prevent abrupt transitions. After painting you should increase noise reduction to 100 and if necessary reduce sharpness to -100. The latter should be used as a last resort, because it has a strong influence on micro contrast in your photo. It resembles the effect of negative Fill Light in SPP.

This is the area which was painted over

And these are the settings of the adjustment brush

The crop from above should look like this after using the adjustment brush:

 

You can find full resolution photo on Flickr. What do you think? Does the ISO1600 photo look usable? What I think is missing, is an easy to use solution to banding.

Rauschunterdrückung in Fotos mit verschwommenem Hintergrund - Quick n Dirty Workflow

Rauschunterdrückung in Fotos mit verschwommenem Hintergrund - Quick n Dirty Workflow

Rauschunterdrückung in Fotos mit verschwommenem Hintergrund - Quick n Dirty Workflow

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