Processing for Birds – Workflow for Noise Reduction using Neat Image

I decided to write a description of my noise reduction workflow in the hope that it helps someone.  I don’t do any noise reduction in Lightroom or Photoshop as I don’t think they are very good.  Just my opinion and others will probably disagree. I use the Photoshop plugin of Neat Image and this is my workflow. First thing I did was to make profiles for my camera as described in the Neat Image Documentation.  If this seems like too much hard work you can download profiles for your cameras from the Neat Image site.

Open the image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer. On the top layer select the bird using whatever selection tool you’re happy with. Create a mask with this selection (3rd icon from the left at the bottom of the layers palette). Duplicate this layer then select it’s layer mask and invert it (Ctrl I) This will give you 3 layers as below. If you don’t keep the original image at the bottom of the layer stack you will get a white border around the bird due to the differences between the two selections and have to start messing about with increasing the selections by 1 pixel or some other method. Found leaving the layer at the bottom of the stack an easier method.

Select the top layer (the bird) and open it in Neat Image. Select Auto Match and it should load the profile for the camera and iso that was used. Then I do Auto Fine Tune and select the Noise Filter Settings.
Ensure Filter Quality is set to Highest. I’ve messed with most of the sliders and settled on the settings shown in the image below for the subject.  These values can be changed if required as not every image needs the same settings but it does give a good starting point.  You can save these settings as a preset by clicking the save button at the top of the controls panel (floppy disk icon)

I then do the same on the masked background layer using the settings shown in the image below

I do no sharpening in Neat Image.
Then flatten the image and run my action for resize, enhance and sharpen for the web at 1200 pixels on the long side.

One comment on “Processing for Birds – Workflow for Noise Reduction using Neat Image
  1. Kevin says:

    Since photographing Black-necked Grebes I have found that the settings I used for the background didn’t remove all of the noise and left considerable noise in the bright areas of the water. With experimentation I found that a value of 80%-100% on The Noise Level>Luminance slider removed this noise.

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