Question: I’ve recently taken some photographs in lower light and after reviewing them on my computer at home, I realized that there’s a lot of grain in them. I usually work in Adobe Lightroom to do my editing and I know I can get rid of some of the noise with that, but I’m not familiar with the steps to take. Can you please help me and explain the process to me? Thank you.
Answer: Hi – If you’ve ever removed grain from a picture using Adobe Camera Raw, you already know how to perform the same function in Lightroom. The slider controls are essentially the same. If you haven’t and if this is your first time removing noise from an image, I think you’ll find the process very straightforward and easy to understand.
First, open your image in Lightroom and then click on the Develop link up in the top right portion of the application. This will bring you to where all the editing happens, but if you already use Lightroom for your editing, you already know that.
Next, click the arrow that’s next to the Detail title in the right column to open that panel. Inside of it, you’ll find a few different sliders. One section of sliders control the luminance grain and the other controls the color grain. You’ll need to enlarge your photo to 100% to see what type of grain you have. You may have only one or both.
If you have luminance noise (random tones of the same color), push the Luminance slider to the right until you get to the point where enough of the noise has disappeared that’s acceptable. Be sure not to go too far because if you do, you can remove too much detail from the image. To be honest, this slider does 99% of the grain removal you’ll need. If you simply nudge it to the right until a fair amount of the noise is gone, you’ll be fine. As for the Detail and Contrast sliders in this section, you can push those to the right as well to add some detail back, but from my experience, the results you get from those two sliders is negligible, especially when viewing an image that’s smaller than it’s original size, such as when people view these images online.
When it comes to color noise in a photo, you can easily remove that (or reduce it, anyway) by pushing the Color slider to the right until the multi-colored specks have vanished and have turned into specks that appear more luminous in nature. Again, this Color slider is the important one, as the Detail and Smoothness sliders in this lower section play a much more secondary role. For a more comprehensive description of what each slider does, you may read this post on removing noise by using Lightroom. If you’d like to give Camera Raw a shot at the same thing, you can read my post on removing noise by using Camera Raw. Both posts are good, but the Camera Raw one might by slightly more comprehensive due to the more elaborate feature set offered within.
If you have any more questions, please ask! I’m always here. Thanks!