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Chapter 17. Workflow > Step 7—Reduce or Remove Noise/Grain

Step 7—Reduce or Remove Noise/Grain

This step might seem a little out of place in the middle of a bunch of adjustments, but the next few steps that come after this one involve isolating and adjusting specific areas of the image. I often rely on the tools from Chapter 14, “Advanced Masking” to isolate areas and if you use those techniques on an overly noisy/grainy image, the grain has the potential of becoming incorporated into the mask that's used to isolate an area (Figure 17.29). If you attempt to reduce or eliminate the noise at a later stage, you might remove it from the image itself (Background layer), but it might also be ingrained (nice pun, huh) in the masks that are attached to some of the Adjustment Layers (used to isolate and adjust particular areas of the image), all of which makes it more difficult to deal with later. So why not work on the noise issue earlier in the workflow? Because many images are overly dark and lack contrast, which not only makes it difficult to evaluate how much noise is infecting your image, but hard to tell when the noise has been completely removed. If there is little or no noticeable noise, then skip this step because noise removal techniques (as described in Chapter 12 “Sharpening”) will soften your image.

Figure 17.29. This Layer Mask picked up grain from the image when an automated selection technique was used.



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