Photoshop Tutorial: Shadow noise removal

This is a guest post from Tage Solberg from Solberghifi. Tag was kind enough to share with us his post processing method to control noise that can appear the shadows/dark parts of any digital image.

Even with a low noise cam like Canon EOS1DmkIII, “lifting” the shadows in an image will increase noise considerably. I often expose for the highlights to avoid clipping, and raise the shadows i post-processing.

When printing large I use this following method to get noise-free, saturated and detailed shadows.

The downside is; it will only work with static objects because it needs a +2 to +3EV bracketed shot.

I’m not talking about an awful HDR result here, but an natural looking image with shadows as clean as the highlights!!
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Stina Stockholm on HDR

A few weeks ago I’ve had the chance to feature Stina Stockholm as photographer of the week and in the comments Ivan asked

I love your work. I would love for you to write a tutorial on how to do your post editing in photoshop. especially the street pic with the brick, how do you get that depth and contrast? Have you used filters on any of these photos? thanks

Stina was kind enough to comply to Ivan’s request and shares with us her thoughts on HDR

The internet is full of tutorials. Many are both excellent and extensive. This one is not that kind. It is rather a quick guide, or a check list, of what I do to almost all of my pics to give them a little spark.

1. I try to avoid camera shake by shortening exposure time as much as I can. When it’s possible, I shoot with a tripod.
2. I make sure that my focus is on my selected focus point.
3. I use aperture to control background (big for blur or small for depth)
4. My camera is set to shoot RAW. That way, if necessary, I can correct exposure (to a certain degree) and white balance before I start working in Adobe Photoshop.
5. In Adobe Photoshop, I always enhance contrasts by adding adjustment layer “curves”. Most of the times I simply add a nice S-curve. That is, I drag the top right of the line upwards, and the bottom right downwards. The adjustment layer “brightness and contrast” works fine to for enhancing contrast, but I find I have more control with curves. I often exaggerate contrast, and use the opacity-slide to adjust the amount of contrast by lowering the percentage.
6. Some times I use the “levels”-tool for contrast, dragging the arrows on the left and right towards the middle, just a little.
7. If I have shot with high ISO, I use a plug in called Noise ninja from PictureCode ( to reduce noise, or grain.
Once I’m happy with my changes, I flatten my photoshop-file, and save a version of it as a post processed original.
8. As I publish most of my pics on the web, I alway make a web version of them: I size down the original to a width of about 1200 pixels, and save as a new file.
9. The last thing I do is to to sharpen. For the web version, I use smart sharpen, amount set to about 150% and radius set to 0,3.
10. Most of the time I add a frame. I do this after sharpen, otherwise the frame to is sharpened, and I do not want that.

The picture of the rainy street in Stockholm is actually shot with a technique called HDR, High Dynamic Range. To know more about this and for an extensive guide, please have a look here

Again, a quick guide of mine:

1. Since HDR consist of blending exposures, it’s wise to use a tripod when shooting. Note that the photo mentioned above is a free hand HDR. As you can see, it’s quit possible to pull off hand held HDR shots.
2. When shooting for HDR, I go as low as I can on ISO, since the images tends to get very noisy even at low ISO.
3. I use the bracket mode on my camera, and I set it to expose three times -2, 0 and + 2. On my camera that’s the most you can go.
4. I have set the camera to shoot in a series, so I hold down the shutter button until I have three exposures.
5. To merge my exposures, I use HDR software Photomatix from HDR Soft ( You can use Photoshop, but it does not tone map, and you want that, since that’s the way to really reveal highlight and shadow details in the image.
6. Once I’ve merged my exposures, and tone mapped them, I go through the steps above in Photoshop. I find that the photos come out rather dull directly from Photomatix, and Noise ninja is almost alway required.

Learning more

The book I’ve have had the most use of is Photoshop for The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers, also available for Photoshop CS and Photoshop CS3, by Scott Kelby. It’s well written, and pedagogical and simple to follow.

I read a lot of photo magazines with tutorials, most of them in Swedish, or French. When I see a tutorial that I like, I try it out on my own photos.

Download Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.5 Today

If you are a Canon DSLR user you might be interested to download and test the new version of Canon’s RAW converter Digital Photo Professional, or DPP, version that ships with the new Canon EOS 50D.

This download is NOT yet an official Canon release and available only for Microsoft Windows OS (English).

So grab your DPP now on Rapidshare or BadOnGo and if you are looking for the instruction manual it can be found on Canon website!

By the way this is a full version, not an upgrade and doesn’t require any previous version installed.

How to solve Microsoft Vista and custom ICC profile issue

Image by Thomas Hawk

Ever since I switched to Microsoft Windows Vista from Windows XP I have been running into problems with my custom monitor profile. No matter what I did Windows Vista was switching back to the default profile every time UAC was invoked.

The obvious way to solve this problem is by disabling UAC. To do so

  1. Run msconfig
  2. Switch to the “Tools” tab
  3. Scroll down and select “Disable UAC”
  4. Click Launch and restart your computer

However yesterday I was faced with a client that needed to have UAC enabled, to comply with his company policies, and was suffering from the same problem. So I found out that the “real” problem was not UAC but the fact that the screen was turning off and back on. This can easily be solved by modifying the computer’s local policy ! Here is how to do it

  1. Run gpedit.msc (doesn’t work on vista home edition)
  2. Browse to Computer configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Security Options
  3. Find the policy called “User Account Control:Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation”
  4. Double click on it and set it to “Disabled”

Changing this policy will disable the blank out that happens before the regular UAC prompt and Windows Vista will not reset to the default profile losing the custom ICC profile you configured.

What I wasn’t able to fix yet is how to fix that problem after restoring from hibernate or sleep so if you know how to do it drop me a line.

Canon Digital Photo Professional video tutorials

If you are struggling with DPP 3.2 ” ((“Canon Digital Photo Professional”))” than check this Canon site. It has good and downloadable video tutorials explaining in details the different tools and functionalities of DPP 3.2.

I think we can all benefit from these, newbie and advanced users alike since there is always something we might have missed. I know I did miss the batch renaming part !