Author: PictureCorrect Contributor

What is Noise in Photography?

When we talk about “noise” in the world of photography, we’re not referring to audible sound. Instead, this term signifies something entirely different. Noise in photography denotes the visual distortion seen in an image, often manifesting as random specks or grain. But what exactly causes it, and how can we minimize it? Let’s delve deep into understanding the phenomenon of noise in photography.

noise in photography

Photo captured by Dollar Gill

1. Defining Noise in Photography

In simple terms, photographic noise can be likened to the ‘static’ or ‘snow’ you might remember seeing on old televisions when the signal was weak. It appears as tiny, irregular colored pixels or specks scattered throughout an image, giving it a coarse, grainy look. Noise can make your photos look less sharp and degrade the overall quality.

There are two types of noise that commonly occur in digital photography – luminance and chrominance noise. Luminance noise affects the brightness of pixels, producing a grainy effect akin to film grain, whereas chrominance noise results in random color pixels appearing in the image.

2. Causes of Noise

There are several reasons noise can occur in your digital images. The most common culprits are high ISO settings, long exposures, and inadequate lighting.

  • High ISO settings: ISO measures the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light. A higher ISO value amplifies the sensor’s response to light, helping to capture images in low-light conditions without using a flash or tripod. However, this amplification process also magnifies the inherent electronic noise in the sensor, resulting in a noisier image.
  • Long exposures: Long exposure photography involves keeping your camera’s shutter open for a prolonged period, which can result in noise. As the sensor of the camera continues to record light, it also heats up, and this increase in temperature can cause digital noise.
  • Inadequate lighting: Underexposing your photos, either intentionally or due to poor lighting conditions, can also contribute to noise. When you try to brighten such images in post-processing, the noise gets amplified along with the brightness.

3. Managing Noise in Your Photos

While you cannot completely avoid noise, there are techniques to manage it effectively.

  • Optimum ISO Settings: As a rule of thumb, it’s best to stick to the lowest possible ISO setting that allows you to adequately expose your image. Modern cameras perform very well at higher ISOs, but it’s still wise to stay as low as possible to reduce the risk of noise.
  • Correct Exposure: It’s always better to get your exposure right in-camera. Underexposing your photo and trying to fix it in post-processing is a sure way to introduce noise.
  • Use Noise Reduction Software: Many software tools can help reduce noise in post-processing. Such as Topaz Photo AI or Lightroom and Photoshop.

4. Embracing the Noise

While noise is generally seen as undesirable, it’s not always a bad thing. When used creatively, it can add a sense of atmosphere, mood, or a retro aesthetic to your images. It’s all about your vision as an artist and how you want to express it.

Noise in photography is often seen as an unwelcome guest, but with the right understanding, you can control and sometimes even embrace it. Photography, at its core, is about capturing light, and noise is part of this process. So the next time you see those grainy specks in your images, remember – it’s just your camera’s unique way of recording the world around you.

For Help with Noise Reduction:

In photo editing news, Topaz Photo AI was recently updated; version 1.3.7 introduces substantially improved noise reduction for non-raw image formats like jpeg, tiff, and png, along with other overall improvements. The company has marked it down $40 off for a short time to celebrate the update if you want to try it out.

topaz photo ai

Topaz Photo AI (see how it works)

Sharpen, remove noise, and increase the resolution of your photos with tomorrow’s technology. Topaz Photo AI supercharges your image quality so you can focus on the creative part of photography.

Deal ending soon: Topaz Photo AI at $40 Off

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Lens Considerations for Pro Wildlife Photography

Photography enthusiasts often feel that their equipment is holding them back, particularly when it comes to bird and wildlife photography. There is a common belief that capturing professional-quality images requires top-of-the-line gear that could potentially cost as much as a new car. However, according to professional nature photographer Greg Basco, this simply isn’t the case. His recent video highlights the potential of telephoto zoom lenses as a more affordable and accessible alternative to pricey prime lenses, specifically for bird and wildlife photography:

Basco acknowledges the allure of large, expensive telephoto prime lenses. The fantastic image quality, snappy autofocus, and effective use of teleconverters are undeniably attractive. However, he also points out their drawbacks: their cost (ranging from $11,000 to $15,000) and their weight (between six and seven pounds), which can make them challenging to carry around and travel with.

In contrast, telephoto zoom lenses, available for under $3000, can also produce pro-quality bird and wildlife photography. Basco shares his experience using Canon’s 100-500mm RF zoom lens and Sigma’s 150-600mm contemporary zoom lens, which he managed to acquire for just $600. Despite being less expensive and lighter, these lenses still deliver in terms of autofocus, image stabilization, and sharpness.

Of course, cheaper telephoto zoom lenses come with their own limitations. They gather less light, which requires more ISO to maintain the same shutter speed as with prime lenses. However, Basco suggests that advancements in software like DxO PureRaw and Topaz DeNoise AI make this less of an issue.

Another drawback of telezooms is that they are limited in terms of focal length, meaning they may struggle to blur out the background of your photos. However, Basco sees this not as a limitation but as an opportunity for creativity. It pushes you out of the “mental jail” of consistently filling the frame, allowing for more diverse, story-telling shots.

The inability to consistently fill the frame with the subject can compel photographers to embrace the smaller size of the subject in the frame. This, according to Basco, can result in photos that tell a story and give a sense of place. For example, while a photo of a single Chilean Flamingo may be beautiful, an image of a group of flamingos at a distant Salt Lake in the Atacama Desert provides context and tells a more compelling story.

wildlife lens

A key advantage of using telephoto zoom lenses is that they force you to consider how the background can contribute to the composition of your photo. This, in turn, enables you to consider how you can use light, tones, and colors in different parts of a wider scene to enhance your exposure. These constraints can improve your overall photography skills.

So, whether you’re a budding wildlife photographer on a budget or a seasoned professional wanting to diversify your portfolio, telephoto zoom lenses could be the tool you’ve been waiting for. They offer an affordable and more accessible entry into professional-quality bird and wildlife photography while also challenging you to think more creatively about your composition and use of light.

Basco’s message is clear: great photography is about more than just your equipment. It’s about embracing what you have, thinking creatively about your shots, and making the most of the conditions. It’s a democratic view that makes bird and wildlife photography more accessible to all – and one that could indeed revolutionize your own approach to the field.

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How to Set Custom White Balance with a Gray Card

Are you looking for a quick way to instantly improve your photography? Aren’t we all? Phil Steele has some great tips for taking it up a notch by understanding how to work with and customize white balance in the following video:

Steele says that if you want accurate color in your photographs, you need to know how to set white balance. He gives us two ways to do so: setting white balance directly in your camera while shooting, and altering white balance in post-production.

Customizing White Balance in the Field

To set white balance while taking pictures, you’ll need a gray card. Steele explains that there are inexpensive and expensive gray cards, and that he’s perfectly happy using the cheaper ones. If you don’t have a gray card, get one! But if you don’t want to get one, Steele says that you can sometimes get by by using a white sheet of paper. That said, not all white sheets of paper are created equally—some have a color cast that you’ll need to watch out for, because that will skew the color of your images.

How to Set Up Custom White Balance in Your Camera

1. Set your gray card against your subject. In Steele’s example, he’s shooting a field of lavender flowers:

grey card custom white balance

2. Fill the frame with the gray card. If you’re shooting in autofocus mode, you may need to switch to manual mode. Take a picture of the card.

3. Individual cameras vary, but you should be able to go into your menu after photographing the gray card and set the white balance using the image you just shot. Refer to your camera’s manual for instructions on how to do this.

Steele explains that setting the white balance using the gray card allows you to get perfectly accurate color in different lighting situations. Check out his before and after shot of the lavender field:

before and after custom white balance

The first image was shot without customizing white balance; the second was taken after setting the white balance in the camera using a gray card.

It’s important to remember to reset your white balance after shooting, or to just switch it back to the default settings—otherwise you may end up with weird color casts when you shoot in different lighting conditions than the one for which you set the custom white balance.

Customizing White Balance Post-Production

Sometimes you don’t have a chance to set white balance inside the camera, and you end up with an entire set of photographs that have an odd tint. Steele explains that this is quite easy to correct in Adobe Lightroom. In his example, he’s photographed a sporting event with awful fluorescent indoor lighting that has given his subjects a sickly yellowish greenish tint. He planned ahead, though, by shooting a gray card as part of the series:

The first image in Steele's set contains a gray card. This can be used to set white balance for the entire set.

The first image in Steele’s set contains a gray card. This can be used to set white balance for the entire set.

You don’t have to have someone around to hold the gray card–you can just lay it down someplace and photograph it that way, as well. If you forget to do this or don’t have a gray card, you can probably use a neutral gray object in one of the photographs within the set to modify white balance.

Setting White Balance for a Set of Photos in Adobe Lightroom

1. Open up your set of oddly tinted images in Lightroom. You’re going to use the White Balance Selector tool to select one of the gray blocks on the gray card:

white balance lightroom

The White Balance Selector tool looks like a little eyedropper.

2. Light or dark doesn’t matter here–the important thing is selecting a neutral tone. Click on that neutral color block, and the tone of the photograph will change.

3. Select the photo you just changed by clicking on it. Then, navigate to the last photo in the set that you want to alter, and select the entire set by Shift+clicking the last image.

4. You’ll see that the first photo is highlighted a bit more than the others–that’s because it’s your source image for white balance changes. Next, click on the Sync button:


5. A menu is going to pop up here–just go with the defaults, Steele explains, because you’re only changing one thing (white balance).

Voila! The entire set now has better white balance.

We hope that you can use these tips to improve your own photographs–let us know in the comments if this was helpful or if you have additional tips and tricks for tweaking white balance in your work!

For further training: Understanding Your Camera Course

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How to Use Auto Exposure Lock on a DSLR Camera

The auto exposure lock (AE-L) function on a digital camera lets you physically lock the exposure reading from anywhere in the scene. You can use it on its own or at the point where you focus the image.

Just about all DSLR or Mirrorless cameras have an auto exposure lock button. When you press the AE-L button, the current exposure settings are fixed (locked) so that they can’t change as you recompose the shot—even if the level of light alters as you aim the camera elsewhere.

exposure lock

Photo captured by Aziz Acharki; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/800s.

When the shutter is pressed halfway down, the autofocus mechanism is engaged. As it does so, the camera takes a meter reading and sets the exposure. But what if you want to focus and meter from different parts of the scene?

This is where the auto exposure lock function comes in handy. It lets you take an exposure reading independently of where you want to focus.

The AE-L function is best used with spot or partial metering in order to fix the meter reading from a small area in the scene. This is very useful in lighting conditions that may fool the metering system.

For example, if you shoot a scene that has a bright source in part of the image, an evaluative, matrix, or multizone meter can easily force underexposure. To get the right exposure, you need to take a reading away from the bright region.

This can be easily be done by taking a spot or partial meter reading from a mid-tone area of the scene and then locking that reading by pressing the AE-L button and keeping it pressed until you’ve recomposed and taken the shot. On some cameras you don’t need to keep the AE-L button depressed, on others you do.

The AE-L button can be used if the subject or subjects are positioned off-center in the scene. It is also useful when you’re shooting a sequence of images that you want to be stitched together in order to produce a panoramic photograph. The AE-L function makes sure that every shot taken in the sequence has exactly the same exposure settings.

About the Author:
Chris Smith is a writer for an online photography magazine Photography-Expert.

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How to Handle Bad Lighting in Landscape Photography

In a recent video, landscape photographer James Popsys took us on an enchanting journey to Keem Bay, a serene spot on the west coast of Ireland. Popsys’ work has always been about the harmony between natural and man-made elements, and his latest adventure provided a stage for this balance to play out in full:

Keem Bay has long been on Popsys’ list of places to photograph. Interestingly, this stunning location was also the backdrop for a hit movie – with a house that plays an integral role in the story (and which is digitally burned down!). Undeterred by the less-than-ideal light on his visit, Popsys had a clear plan – he would visit the spot multiple times to try to capture its full glory.

Popsys, along with his fellow photographer friend Rich, was visiting Ireland on an assignment for the tourism board. They had a week to explore the west coast of Ireland – a trip Popsys had been meaning to take in winter, hoping for the atmospheric mood, massive waves, and storms that the season brings.

The Tools of the Trade

Popsys brought along both his Leica and Sony a7r for this journey. Despite his recent enjoyment of shooting with the Leica, he found himself gravitating towards his Sony camera upon arrival. He reflected on this choice, suggesting that his years of experience with the Sony might have influenced his trust in it to help him achieve the shot he desired.

Discovering New Shots

Popsys wasn’t just after the obvious shots at Keem Bay. Believing that any good photographer should be able to create more than one composition in such a beautiful location, he searched for other perspectives. This included a shot that required a bit of Photoshop manipulation, including the cloning of a lifeguard and a tent. He suggests that using these techniques in a place like this is justified, adding a playful note that if it’s considered “cheating,” then he is fine with it.

bad light landscape

The Power of Patience

Popsys’ video not only explored the beauty of Keem Bay but also served as a lesson in patience for photographers. Despite his long-held desire to photograph the area, Popsys found himself facing conditions that didn’t align with his vision. However, rather than viewing this as a disappointment, he saw it as an opportunity for multiple visits and a deeper connection with the place.

He explains that if he achieves a portfolio-quality photo from a place right away, his interest in the location fades almost instantly. This realization has transformed his perception of what it means to connect with a location, teaching him the value of revisiting the same spot multiple times to develop a deeper understanding and relationship with it.

Popsys ended his journey with a philosophical reflection: the pursuit of the perfect photo isn’t meant to be easy, and the challenge is part of what makes photography so rewarding. He views his lack of the ‘perfect shot’ from Keem Bay as the beginning of a long-term relationship with this place, a chance to return and keep exploring the location through his lens.

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Summer Photography Improvement

As we feel the warm breeze ushering in the summer season, it’s a great time for us photographers to not only capture beautiful sunlit scenes but also to explore new learning avenues. One such path to growth is coming your way through my good friend, Ken Schultz, the brain behind the highly-acclaimed “EasyDSLR” training course.

summer photography

Summer photo captured by Alex Lamb

Ken is on the brink of launching a brand-new program: “DPInsiders”. This exciting venture, grounded in Ken’s vast expertise and dedication to excellence, is designed to elevate your photography skills to new heights.

To make things even better, Ken is offering PictureCorrect readers an exclusive opportunity to sign up and secure spots on the DPInsiders’ waiting list before the official launch. This is a no-fee, early-access pass to enroll at an introductory price when the program goes live.

As we await this exciting new journey with DPInsiders, let’s prepare ourselves for the summer photography season with a few handy tips:

Understand Your Light: Summer is known for its intense sunlight, which can lead to harsh shadows and overexposed shots if you’re not careful. Try to shoot during the ‘Golden Hours’ (the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset) when the light is softer and has a warmer tone.

Consider using a Polarizing Filter: This can help reduce the glare on sunny days, enhance the blue of the sky, and increase the saturation of the scene. It’s a very helpful tool for outdoor summer photography.

Capture the Summer Vibes: Summer is all about energy, fun, and bright colors. Try to capture these elements in your photos.

Play with Shadows: Summer is a great time to experiment with shadow play. Use the strong sunlight to your advantage and capture the contrast and depth created by shadows.

Water and Reflections: Summer provides opportunities for great photos near bodies of water. You can capture amazing reflection photos early in the morning when the water is calm.

Look for Detail: While it’s easy to focus on landscapes and wide shots during the summer, also pay attention to the smaller details. The textures of summer – like blooming flowers, a close-up of a chilled glass of lemonade, or the details of a seashell – can make for captivating photos.

Experiment with Silhouettes: The strong light of summer sunsets can help create stunning silhouette shots. Place your subject between the camera and the light source to create these.

Looking forward to your photographic summer and to the launch of DPInsiders.

Found here: Secure Your Spot on the DPInsiders Launch List

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How to Use Generative Fill in Macro Photography

Macro photography expert, Stewart Wood, recently shared his experiences of Adobe’s latest piece of AI software in Photoshop, Generative Fill. It is currently in its beta version and is only available within the beta versions of Photoshop. In this article, we’ll dissect the key takeaways from Stewart’s insights about this revolutionary tool and its potential impact on the world of macro photography:

Generative Fill is a new AI tool that uses Adobe’s powerful cloud computing capabilities to perform a multitude of tasks. Rather than getting into the technicalities, Stewart focused on how he has incorporated this tool into his macro photography workflow.

One primary use of Generative Fill, as per Stewart, is to create full-screen crops for Instagram posts. The AI software accomplishes this by extending the background of an image while keeping the main subject intact. This helps to ensure that the entire subject is visible in the post, without having to resort to unsightly cropping methods.

How It Works

Once you have an image ready for cropping, Generative Fill requires you to make selections on the areas to fill. After clicking on ‘Generative Fill’, the software sends the image to the Adobe Cloud, where it gets analyzed. The cloud then generates a suitable background based on the analysis, and sends it back to your computer.

The result is a far more aesthetically pleasing version of your image compared to other methods, such as the ‘stretching’ approach or using a single, solid color as a background.

A Note on Limitations

Stewart points out that the tool, while amazing, has some limitations. For example, if your image is particularly noisy, the Generative Fill may not match the noise level, which can cause a slight difference in the texture between the original and generated areas.

macro generative fill

Generative Fill vs Content Aware Fill

In contrast with Adobe’s Content Aware Fill, which works great for minor adjustments, Generative Fill goes the extra mile by not just filling in space, but also creating elements. For instance, it can continue the blurred out part of a leaf that was cut off in the original image, making the result seem more natural.

Ethical Considerations

Stewart raises an important point about the ethical implications of Generative Fill. While some photographers might consider its use as altering the authenticity of an image, Stewart sees it as a tool that enhances his workflow and saves time. Instead of spending precious minutes on cloning and duplication, he now fixes issues within seconds.

However, he urges photographers to maintain their integrity, being clear about whether an image is a composite or not. While he doesn’t consider correcting minor issues as changing the nature of a photograph, adding elements such as textures or additional items does, in his view, turn it into a composite.

Adobe’s Generative Fill is indeed a game changer in the realm of photography editing. It simplifies the process of creating full-screen images for social media, while also offering solutions for fixing issues in stacked images. Its introduction invites photographers to have important discussions about where the line should be drawn between editing and composite creation.

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Street Photography Cheat Sheet

If you are new to street photography, or even if you’re not, remembering settings, nailing the composition, getting idea inspirations, and just getting motivated to get over the fear of doing it can feel daunting. To help make it easier, here’s a cheat sheet full of reminders and setting information to print and take with you, whether you’re traveling or just exploring your hometown.

"Bike Messenger NYC" captured by James Maher.

“Bike Messenger NYC” captured by James Maher.

What To Look For:

  • Tell stories – Find details that hint at a larger meaning.
  • Emotion – When capturing people, seek out expressive faces, hands, and postures.  Also, try to capture images that will invoke a feeling in the viewer.
  • Think about how a photograph will age.  That storefront window or outfit may seem standard now, but could become much more interesting in 20 years.
  • Make photo essays about areas or ideas that you know well.
  • Capture unique people. Everyone you see is unique in some way. Figure out why and try to capture that.
  • Don’t only photograph people. Capture interesting scenes that say something.
  • Street portraiture. Find an interesting background and then stop an interesting person for a portrait in front of it.

Design and Composition:

  • Quality and Direction of Light – Seek out interesting and dynamic light.  Is the main light source in front of you, behind you, above you?
  • Colors – Seek out scenes with interesting colors that complement each other.
  • Lines – Are your lines straight? Diagonal Lines can add energy and can lead a viewers eyes into a scene. How will the eyes move around through the scene.
  • Corners – What is in each corner of the image? Corners play a large part in creating balance.
  • Create relationships – between two or more people or things.
  • Balance – Does your photo feel balanced? Is that necessary?


  • Notice people from further away. This will give you more time to get in position and create a good composition.
  • Go someplace crowded. If you are especially nervous, crowded areas are the easiest places to try street photography.
  • Choose a spot and wait for people to come to you. Choose an interesting background or area ahead of time and wait for people to enter it.
  • Use exposure compensation.  It’s the fastest way to brighten or darken a scene.
  • Don’t walk too fast. It is nearly impossible to observe, walk fast, and capture things all at the same time.
  • Patience. Waiting an extra couple of minutes can be the difference between a mediocre image and a once in a lifetime photograph.
  • Smile! If someone notices you taking their picture, smile at them.  You will be surprised how often they will smile back.
street photography cheat sheet

Photo by Tim Foster


To achieve maximum sharpness:

  • Shutter Speed
    -Scenes without moving people or objects: 1/focal length (i.e. with a 50mm lens, at minimum, you would want to be at least at 1/50th of a second.)
    Scenes with moving people or objects: 1/320th ideal (1/160th minimum).
  • Aperture
    -Use a small aperture (large number) for a larger range of sharpness (large depth of field).
    -Using F16 will give you significantly more depth of field than F5.6.
  • High ISO
    -Using a higher ISO (800/1600/3200 depending on lighting conditions) can allow you to use a higher f/stop.
  • Use a Wide-Angle or Normal Lens (28, 35 or 50mm)
    -The wider the focal length the greater the depth of field.
  • Zone Focus (pre-focusing / hyperfocal distance)
    -Turn your camera to manual focusing, set the distance to 10 feet away (or the distance you prefer) with a small aperture, and capture people when they are that distance from your camera.  Takes practice to do well.

There are a few other considerations you may want to keep in mind such as setting your camera on shutter priority mode.  Manual is good for consistent lighting situations, but is tough to alter constantly in changing light environments. Also, remember that blur isn’t necessarily bad.  Photograph moving people at slower shutter speeds – 1/40th to 1/60th – to create a slight blur.  It can look fantastic, especially in black and white.

About the Author:
James Maher is the author of Essentials of Street Photography, which covers everything about the genre even down to specific post processing techniques that can bring the best out of street scenes.

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Don’t Be Afraid of High ISO on Modern Cameras

As the internet grows and grows, photography tutorials are becoming more and more abundant. All that information can be a good thing, but it can also create problems as it sometimes has the magical effect of turning one’s opinion to fact over time. Read around about digital photography and you will come across the ‘stock’ advice that some people give. Over time, this gets repeated until it becomes part of the conventional wisdom about photography.

One of these is in relation to ISO. The usual advice is to use the lowest ISO possible when you take a photo. There’s a good reason for this, as the image quality is always higher at lower ISOs than higher ones. But, what the authors don’t mention is that the quality at high ISOs on modern DSLR’s is now very good indeed.

dont-be-afraid-of-high-iso-2Given that high ISOs, especially if combined with prime lenses, enable you to take photos with a hand-held camera in low light conditions, when the quality of light can be amazing for subjects like portraiture, I think they are worth experimenting with. Embrace high ISO. Use it whenever the light is low. It depends on what camera you have, but you may be surprised how little noise there is at ISO settings like 1600, 3200, and 6400, especially if you follow the tips presented later on in this article.

ISO Improvements

There are several factors that make the high ISO settings more usable on recent digital cameras:

  • Sensor technology and noise reduction. For example, the latest cameras use processors that are faster and more powerful than previous versions, and one of the benefits of this is that it’s better at reducing noise when you use the JPEG format (if you use RAW, noise reduction is carried out by your RAW processing software instead).
  • Sensor size. If you have a full-frame camera it produces images with less noise at high ISOs than cameras with APS-C sensors. (All of the photos in this article were taken with a full-frame EOS 5D).
  • Better software. The noise reduction algorithms in the latest versions of Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop work amazingly well. As RAW processing software gets better over the years, so does its noise reduction function. (The photos in this article are processed with Lightroom.)


High ISO Techniques

There are a couple of things that you can do to help avoid excess noise at high ISOs. These apply no matter which ISO setting you are using, but the improvement in quality is more noticeable at high ISOs than low ones.

Expose to the right. This requires that you set an exposure that gives a histogram that leans all the way to the right without crossing the right hand side of the graph. In other words, there are no clipped highlights. This technique works well in low contrast conditions when the brightness range of the scene is less than the brightness range the camera’s sensor is capable of recording.


Aim for your photographs to be exposed more the right side of the histogram, trying to avoid clipping.

In the above example, I was able to increase the exposure by two stops over that recommended by the camera without clipping any highlights. This was made possible by the low contrast of the scene.

Post Processing

Take care in post-processing. If you lighten an area of your photo that is dark, you increase noise levels. The higher the ISO used, the more noticeable this is. If you have dark areas in your image, it’s best to leave them that way. Incidentally, you can make light areas darker without increasing noise, and this is one of the reasons that the expose to the right technique works.


Using Texture To Reduce Noise

Be aware that you will get noise in blue or black skies. Noise shows up most in areas without much texture, such as sky. It is also more pronounced in the blue channel. If you take a photo at high ISO and include blue sky or the night sky in the image, you will see a lot of noise in the sky. I don’t want to put you off taking photos that include sky (such as the one above) as you can create some beautiful images that way, but you should be aware that they will contain more noise than photos without sky.


Alternatively, if you take photos of something that contains a lot of texture, such as the books in the photo above, the texture has the effect of obscuring noise. Using the noise masking capabilities that texture has on an image can effectively boost the quality of your high ISO photography when it is taken into consideration during the composition phase.


Grain and digital noise can be used as a creative tool

A little critical thinking and you may be able to visualize new ways to frame your photograph so the texture is at its most beneficial position inside the image.

Use Noise Creatively

With early digital cameras noise was so pronounced, even at low ISOs, that most photographers wanted to reduce or eliminate it. But, now that high ISO performance has improved so dramatically, maybe it is time to start exploiting the aesthetic qualities of high ISO?

For example, photos taken at ISO 3200 and 6400 on my EOS 5D and processed in Lightroom, such as some of the images used in this article, have qualities similar to that of grain on fast films. Photographers like Sarah Moon and Robert Farber used high speed film and grain to create beautiful, evocative images in the seventies. Their subjects predominantly included portraits and the female nude. Maybe the day will come when a photographer makes their mark by using high ISO creatively the same way?

Get creative and start experimenting with whatever DSLR you have, you may discover new ways that you can use digital noise to add drama to and even enhance your photographs.

About the Author:
Andrew S Gibson is also the author of Understanding EOS: A Beginner’s Guide to Canon EOS Cameras, which takes a simple approach to using your DSLR by exploring only the controls that you need to learn (such as aperture priority) to create beautiful photos.

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How to Use the Remove Tool in Photoshop

In this recent video, pro photographer Matt Kloskowski covered the latest updates to Adobe Photoshop. Here are some of the most important takeaways from his in-depth exploration of the new features:

Arguably the highlight of this recent update, the new Remove tool has quickly become a favorite for Kloskowski. Grouped with the Spot Healing Brush and the Healing Brush, this new tool helps in removing unwanted elements from the photo.

The Remove Tool

The Remove tool is quite straightforward to use with its brush size that can be altered using the right and left bracket keys. There are options such as ‘Sample All Layers’, useful when working on a multi-layer document, and ‘Remove after each stroke’. The latter option, when turned off, allows you to paint more precisely without the tool immediately acting after each stroke, which can be helpful in achieving more precise results.

remove tool

Addition with the Remove Tool

Despite its name, the Remove tool can also be used to add elements to an image. For example, if a certain part of the photo seems empty, you can use this tool to paint over that area. Photoshop then analyzes the surrounding areas to determine what to add, providing a great way to add more symmetry or balance to a photo.

Context Sensitive Bar

This feature provides options based on the layer you are working on. For instance, when you’re on a background layer, you can do ‘Select Subject’ or ‘Remove Background’. Once a selection is made, a pop-up bar appears with various selection-related tasks. Although these tasks have been available for some time, having them at your fingertips saves time.

Visual Presets

The recent update now includes visual presets located in the adjustments panel. Once you find one that suits your needs, you can simply click on it, and it will create a layer group with layers inside of it, giving you an adjustable preset for your image.

Interactive Handles for Gradients

For those who use gradients, the update brings more interactive handles. Depending on the gradient chosen, you will see multiple handles that help control the fall off between different colors. This feature can be especially useful for designers and photographers who frequently use gradients.

Final Thoughts

While this update focused on Photoshop, Kloskowski mentions that Adobe Lightroom also received updates the previous month, and encourages viewers to check them out. As always, the beauty of these updates lies in the fact that they increase the potential for creativity, making the tools even more versatile and powerful for users.

It’s important to note that, despite the impressive capabilities of these tools, they may not always achieve perfect results straight out of the box. As Kloskowski says, they might get you 70% of the way there, and you do the rest of the work. This is an important reminder of the vital role of personal touch and expertise in photo editing, which even the most advanced tools can’t replace.

For further training: Matt’s Photoshop System at 44% Off

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