Noisy picture tutorial...

One of our fine Flickr group members, Only Josie, uploaded this picture with the following commentary:

"just a portrait I love even though it's terrible quality - iPhone 3G camera, low light, noise from hell - but it just captures my older daughter in sleep so well!"

Now I didn't ask her if I could use here picture for this tutorial (and probably should have) so my hope is that she does not come to Maine and do me great bodily harm! Here is her image.

Let me say first that I love this picture! You look at it and it gives you a sense of peace and quiet that comes only when our child is asleep and I am willing to bet you are not going to get this little girl in bed without her puppy.

Another reason I love the picture as that it reminds me of my daughter when she was little, in fact she still has that exact dog (his names is bones) and even though she is now a teenager and high school that dog not only sleeps with her, but when she makes her bed he is tucked in nicely.

Back to the picture, the first thing I think of when it comes to noise is "black and white", though noise can be a distraction in a color image it will work wonderfully in black and white.

Here is what I did:

1. Converted the image to black and white

2. It appeared even noisier after the conversion so I reduced the noise

3. I ever so slightly brightened her face

Here is the image after these adjustments:

As I looked at it the outer aspects of the image were brighter than the center which would cause your eyes to drift off center (the subject) and (eventually) off the image itself so to keep your eyes in place I:

1. Added a vignette

2. Added a 2 pixel black border (stroke)

And here is my final edit:

Josie, I hope you don't mind that I used your image, and REALLY hope you don't hurt me.

(click on any image to open larger and in a new screen)


neha said...
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Josie said...

Wow! My picture looks so much better. Now it's arty grain... and of course, that's what I was going for all along... *cough*... Thankyou so much Scott, and I can't wait to see what my little girl thinks of this when I get home and show her she is on the internet!

Josie said...

PS - funny that your daughter has a similar dog toy, but your kid chose a much better name. Lyra's is called "Hot Doggie" (no kidding), because he's microwaveable, so he's especially nice on Winter nights (this shot was from last November in Scotland - so you can see why he is tucked in tight)!

Miguel Palaviccini said...

Scott, what did you use to reduce the noise? LR? Or did you a sort of blur mask?

Jeremy said...

Noise Ninja has been a good friend of mine for noise... ;-)

Scott said...


I did it in Photoshop - "Filter", "Noise", "Reduse Noise".

The image I edited was only 188k in size, had it been larger there would have been more pixels to edit.

After you use the Battery Caddy let me know what you think.


Troy B said...

I understand the edit, but I miss the pink in her cheeks, flower on her jammies and bed sheets.

BuyWoWPriest said...

would it be possible to reduce that much noise in a colored picture?

Anonymous said...

This is a great tip. Should try this on some of my grainy shots.

JimvI said...

Hi Scott. Great job in B&W. I just wonder what the picture in color would look like after the same noise-reduction treatment. See. I like the soft colortones of that little girls skin.

himparkh said...
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Anonymous said...

I like the black and white rendition the best. Great photography and treatment Scott.