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Thread: Dealing with a noisy bird picture

  1. #1

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    Dealing with a noisy bird picture

    Ok we'll see if even a bad picture is worth a thousand words. This is a huge crop of a shot that was not focused to well to begin with, but maybe it's enough.

    Dealing with a noisy bird picture
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 31st August 2010 at 07:45 AM. Reason: Moved posts to more appropriate place

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Egret (I think)

    Hi Wendy,

    How's this?

    Dealing with a noisy bird picture

    of course, now I have to write the thousand words on what I did

    It doesn't bear too close a scrutiny, but from a distance I think it's better

    It took a while and I haven't eaten yet, back later ...

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Dealing with a noisy bird picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    It took a while and I haven't eaten yet, back later ...
    OK it's later ...

    I asked Wendy if I could have a go at the RAW on this as I have some self inflicted experience rescuing huge crops of fuzzy, noisy birds!

    Here as promised, is roughly what I did;
    Open NEF in ACR (as supplied with Elements 8 (so I only have 2 tabs)
    Temp 5950 and Tint +15 (As Shot)
    Hit "Auto"
    Exp +0.85 (not changed from Auto)
    Recovery 35 (Changed from Auto)
    Fill Light 0 (not changed from Auto)
    Blacks 0 (Changed from Auto)
    Brightness +48 (not changed from Auto)
    Contrast +24 (not changed from Auto)

    Straightened image - here's a tip for relection shots for when you don't have a good horizon, just like you don't get on a lake or slow river; I used the ACR straighten tool, but using the Ctrl key because vertical, and drew the line between the tip of the beak on the bird and the same point on its reflection. If the water is level, and it usually is this must be true vertical. Finding the widest point across a ripple circle (e.g. from a dropped stone) is another way to find a true horizontal on still water. But I digress ...

    Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation; all 0 (because I want to remove noise first with Neat Image in Elements)

    Histogram from ACR
    Dealing with a noisy bird picture
    Notice I had intentionally left flat 'shoulders', these actually turned out to be too wide later

    Sharpening; all 0 (for same reason as above)
    Noise reduction; both 0 (ditto)

    Opened in PSE8

    I have a somewhat empirical approach to image editing, I try it, if it looks right it stays, if it doesn't, it gets Undone, this is what worked;

    Levels dialog, set grey to 1.2
    USM for LCE 30%, 90 px, 0 (more would have been nice, but it blew too much of the bird's neck and chest)

    Neat Image Noise reduction (First pass)
    Sample area (@ 100%):
    Dealing with a noisy bird picture

    Preview of effect (@ 100%):
    Dealing with a noisy bird picture
    Note this hasn't adequately dealt with the noise, but increasing the faders from 50% Luma and 100% chroma started to damage the bird, so I proceeded at these settings.

    Crop; to (my) taste

    Cloned out some distractions like straight lines and multiple bright ripples
    Spot healed away quite a lot of the surface detritus to improve reflection quality

    Use sharpen brush on bird selectively

    Neat Image Noise reduction (Second pass, same settings as first)

    Reduce image for CiC; from about 1,300px after crop, to 700px (on longest side)

    USM to final sharpen; 120%, 0.3, 1

    Only now do I spot it still has too wide gaps on histogram, so in Levels dialog, move black point to 4 and white to 240, expanding range (I shouldn't have needed to do this)

    Now I notice the rock is now a bit bright, and so is the sky in bottom left corner, hand burn those down a bit and publish, as above.

    Final look and note that the sky is a bit bright in right hand corner too, so burn that down a bit and ... take 2
    Dealing with a noisy bird picture

    It was a learning experience for me too; the pic was quite a bit noisier than I was expecting, and it wasn't easy to separate the noise from the water's surface or bird. Had to resort to two passes (a first for me).

    Note that due to noise and crop, I didn't capture sharpen or content sharpen (beyond the LCE, which does help). Only the final sharpen after reduction, all to avoid sharpening the noise and keep a low threshold.

    Hope that was useful to somone,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 31st August 2010 at 07:48 AM.

  4. #4

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    Dealing with a noisy bird picture

    Dave: Thank you so much for taking the time to rework this and for providing such detailed instructions. I will try this out on some of the other shots that are in the same category and see if I can save them from the bin. Neat Image does a very good job on the noise. I have it installed but I have not tried it yet (usually don't need it, but I had a bad day trying different settings with the camera and seemed to get everything wrong )

    I've printed out your instructions and will be trying this out on some of the other shots as soon as I get a chance. I may have some questions as I go along, is there any chance you could move this part of the thread to the PP forum, so it does not detract from the Reflections thread. If you do, the title should be changed too - I should have changed it when I posted but it still has the same title from the Egret post

    More to follow, but running late now so have to go

    Thanks again
    Wendy
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 31st August 2010 at 07:47 AM.

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