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Thread: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

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    WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    This is a full frame image of a white breasted kingfisher taken with the following settings: Av mode at f/7.1, 1/100 sec and ISO was set in Auto as he was sitting in the shadow. The camera adjusted ISO at 3200 and I was pretty much impressed with the IQ.

    With no NR:
    WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????


    With NR using Neat Image:
    WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Which one do you prefer? C&C on composition/expsosure/PP most welcome.

    All the PP work done in ACR only. For the second image, it was downsized (in CS5) to 1000x680 followed by NR in Neat Image (Luminance = 50%, Chrominance =85%) and finally sharpened with USM (at 150/0.3/2). I am yet to start using layer/masks.

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    both look fine to me but im not into pixel peeping!

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Very nice, Bedanta, and a good example of how we don't have to fear higher ISO's as we once did. Occasionally, but certainly not always, noise reduction can make an image appear sharper, and I think this is a demonstration of that.

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by bedantabd View Post

    Which one do you prefer? C&C on composition/expsosure/PP most welcome.
    Don't you have an easier question, Bedanta?

    I am also, sometimes, stuck when deciding about a similar situation. What I have concluded, recently, is: If you have not significant noise, there is no need to use neat image, as it will reduce, at least minimally, your detail level. On the other hand, Neat image is great when you have a noisy image.

    Regarding your images, both are very nice. Following my conclusion, above, I have to choose number 1, as it does not show significant noise, to me (not pixel peeping, though).

    Very nice shot, by the way!

    Cheers...

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    #1 for me the colors are slightly more vibrant, gives it sharper look overall. I probably wouldn't have noticed if they were not side by side. Nice images.

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    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Beautiful shot! Excellent composition. I prefer the NR photo #2. That said, I'm blown away by the low noise even at that ISO. It's way better than my camera would do at 1/2 that ISO!

    You did a very good job of NR without losing detail. With details like feathers, it's easy to get the smooth plastic look if NR is overdone. You handled it perfectly. I agree with Kevin, this is one shot where the NR makes it sharper.

    I am a pixel peeper I use Photoshop, and topaz denoise. Sometimes I make a copy layer of the shot, do NR on the whole shot, then use a layer mask to selectively "paint" back in the areas that I want to maintain detail, such as feather areas and fur, etc. But only if the NR is reducing detail too much; topaz denoise is pretty good though.

    PP wise, consider darkening the boca circle that is just above/behind the beak to reduce that distraction, and also the one to the right in the leaves. And if it were me, I *might* possibly blur the upper branch and slightly blur the leaves at upper right. That's just my style though, I wouldn't expect everyone to agree with those preferences. My PP techniques might be rather excessive to most.

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic photo

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    both look fine to me but im not into pixel peeping!
    Thanks Mark. I do tend to pixel peep this kind of image where details are very important. And that's why I was (and still am) confused: whether to retain all the details along with the noise or to reduce the noise along with some amount of details.

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by kdoc856 View Post
    Very nice, Bedanta, and a good example of how we don't have to fear higher ISO's as we once did. Occasionally, but certainly not always, noise reduction can make an image appear sharper, and I think this is a demonstration of that.
    Thanks Kevin. I always preferred to stick to ISO:100-200 while taking bird portraits. Not anymore. Now I always put ISO on Auto (in Av or Tv) if I find that the light is not very good: let the camera decide what ISO is required. I am safe upto ISO-3200, at least..........

    By the way, use of apostrophe for plurals (higher ISO's) looks to be as common in the US as here in India. See, I'm pixel peeping again. Hope you don't mind.

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by Otavio View Post
    Don't you have an easier question, Bedanta?
    Hi Otavio, I never put up an easy question in this forum for discussion.

    Good to know that you were able to conclude and chose #1. Thanks.

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    #1 for me the colors are slightly more vibrant, gives it sharper look overall. I probably wouldn't have noticed if they were not side by side. Nice images.
    One more vote for #1, thanks John.

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Beautiful shot! Excellent composition. I prefer the NR photo #2. That said, I'm blown away by the low noise even at that ISO. It's way better than my camera would do at 1/2 that ISO!

    You did a very good job of NR without losing detail. With details like feathers, it's easy to get the smooth plastic look if NR is overdone. You handled it perfectly. I agree with Kevin, this is one shot where the NR makes it sharper.
    Thanks Matt for those wonderful encouraging words.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    I am a pixel peeper I use Photoshop, and topaz denoise. Sometimes I make a copy layer of the shot, do NR on the whole shot, then use a layer mask to selectively "paint" back in the areas that I want to maintain detail, such as feather areas and fur, etc. But only if the NR is reducing detail too much; topaz denoise is pretty good though.
    I am a pixel peeper myself and would always prefer a noisy image than a smooth plastic looking image with no noise. I know that reducing noise and retaining details both can be achieved with leyers/masks as you have described. But as I have said, I am yet to start these powerful tools. could you elaborate the steps involved in "make a copy layer of the shot, do NR on the whole shot, then use a layer mask to selectively "paint" back"??? That will be very helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    PP wise, consider darkening the boca circle that is just above/behind the beak to reduce that distraction, and also the one to the right in the leaves. And if it were me, I *might* possibly blur the upper branch and slightly blur the leaves at upper right. That's just my style though, I wouldn't expect everyone to agree with those preferences. My PP techniques might be rather excessive to most.

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic photo
    Yes, those bright spots are little distracting and I thought of reducing the brightness in those areas. But again, I am not very good at selective editing. Any suggestions on how to reduce/increase brightness or blur in selective areas?

    Thanks again.

  12. #12
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by bedantabd View Post
    I am a pixel peeper myself and would always prefer a noisy image than a smooth plastic looking image with no noise. I know that reducing noise and retaining details both can be achieved with leyers/masks as you have described. But as I have said, I am yet to start these powerful tools. could you elaborate the steps involved in "make a copy layer of the shot, do NR on the whole shot, then use a layer mask to selectively "paint" back"??? That will be very helpful.
    I don't know what other software is capable of, but I use photoshop. The following is a simplified summary of how I would do the edits; if you don't have Photoshop these instructions won't be much help (but will hopefully help someone at least), and if you do have photoshop but aren't used to these features, it might take some research to understand fully:

    -Make a copy of the original photo layer (open the photo, select the layer in the layers palette, then hit Ctrl + J to make a copy)

    - Hide that new layer (click the eyeball in the layer palette)

    - Run the NR plugin on the original layer as you normally would. You can go a little strong if you are mainly wanting to reduce noise in the background areas of the photo and if you plan on painting the original photo details back in)

    - After the noise is reduced, click the eyeball to show the duplicated layer which has the original noisy photo

    - Hold "alt" key and click the layer mask icon/button at the bottom of the layer palette. This will hide the entire original photo behind a solid mask, making it invisible so you see the de-noised image again

    - Grab the paintbrush tool and hit the "D" key to make the colors in the foreground/background the default black and white. Make sure white is your foreground color

    - Adjust the brush hardness and size as desired depending on which areas of the photo you want to "paint" back in (smaller and harder for tight areas, larger and softer for big areas). Also make sure to adjust the brush opacity (100% to bring the original photo areas back quickly at full power, less opaque to bring the details back in lesser amounts)

    - Make sure you have selected the black layer mask in the layer palette (click the black box next to your original layer)

    - Now paint over the image where you want the details (the noisy image) to show up again. Always double check before you paint, that you have the layer mask selected. Typically you will know where you want to paint because you will simply see on the image which areas lost too much detail when you reduced the noise. Just paint those areas, and you'll see the noisy detail come back. Adjust opacity and brush size as needed throughout the process in different areas. You can undo each brush stroke (ctrl +z) or step backward multiple steps with ctrl + alt +z or use the history panel.

    - If you hit the "x" key, it swaps the foreground background (white / black to black /white and back and forth each time you hit x). When it is on foreground black, and you are on the layer mask, you will be "hiding" the noisy image areas that you see, and when it is on white, again you'll be painting the noisy image back in. Switch with x whenever needed if you decide you don't like what you've done or want to clean up some areas (adjust opacity and brush options as desired too)

    - Takes a lot of practice, but once you get the feel for it, you will easily be able to do this with great accuracy and get the details in where you want, while maintaining the smooth background de-noised areas

    - This layer mask and painting technique works for any other adjustments you might make (do a separate adjustment on a new layer copy each time so you can paint in or out just that adjustment (for example, sharpened layers, contrast layers, etc). By the way, if you click the layer mask button and do NOT hold 'alt' it simply adds a white mask which means the layer still shows, but if you paint on the mask with the black color, it will "hide" that image. It's the same as I described above, just doing the opposite showing/hiding, if that makes sense

    Hope this helps

    Quote Originally Posted by bedantabd View Post
    Yes, those bright spots are little distracting and I thought of reducing the brightness in those areas. But again, I am not very good at selective editing. Any suggestions on how to reduce/increase brightness or blur in selective areas?

    Thanks again.
    You might try the color replacement brush. It's kind of tricky to get the hang of this brush, but it's very powerful once you get a handle on it. It lets you select a color or tone, and "paint" specific areas of the photo and it will automatically determine the edges of the areas and replace the colors. It is rather intelligent and would probably be able to determine the boca edge and you could replace it with a green tone to match the other background areas. Read up on the color replacement brush. Another method is dodging and burning, but from my experience I never get it to look right, unless the photo is black and white. In color, it tends to make things look too neutral. I maybe be using the wrong settings on it or something.

    Blurring can be done the same exact way as painting in the noisy original image as noted above. Make copy of the original layer, blur the new layer copy with gaussian blur (use different blur amounts and settings depending on how much you want the areas to look blurred, and depending how far way the elements area. If you blur something that is up close too much, it looks fake). Then hide the layer in a mask by clicking alt + layer mask. Select white brush and adjust it to be soft edge, then paint in the blurred areas where you want. This can also be a very tricky technique to get it looking natural and not overdone, and there are more complications if because you can get halos and stuff if you paint too close to something that you don't want to be blurred.

    Finally, you can have greater control over many of these adjustments by using selections (using lasso tool or creating paths with bezier pen tool and then loading the path as a selection). This is more advanced and requires research and practice. Too much to cover here.

    Hope this helps.

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    Re: WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    I don't know what other software is capable of, but I use photoshop. The following is a simplified summary of how I would do the edits; if you don't have Photoshop these instructions won't be much help (but will hopefully help someone at least), and if you do have photoshop but aren't used to these features, it might take some research to understand fully:
    Yes, I'm using ACR/CS5.


    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Hope this helps.


    Sure it will, Matt. Million thanks for taking the time to write down all the steps involved in great detail. I have taken print-out of your reply to practice this as soon as I reach home. Hope to post some images soon...........

  14. #14
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    WBKF at High ISO: NR or not????

    I recommend doing all edits on the full size image. No sense spending hours editing just for web display. If you edit full size then you can print it or sell it, etc

    After you downsize for web, do one last sharpening on it, careful not to overdo it. You can also do a quick and rough mask on the web size version to hide the sharpened background so you aren't introducing noise back into the photo there.

    Finally I don't see a need to do these edits on the photo shown here, as the detail is held well even after noise reduction. It might make a slight difference at larger size. Either way it looks great as is.

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