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Reduce Camera Noise in 3 Easy Photoshop Steps

Danny Jauregui is a Los Angeles based food blogger.  Read his helpful food photography and blogging tips at Food Bloggers Unite!
Shooting with a higher ISO can sometimes solve low light shooting situations but it can also present a whole other set of problems.  Higher ISO’s allow you to shoot in low light situations but the combination of low light and high ISO creates a perfect storm when it comes to camera noise and texture. 


Camera noise is most obvious in the darker midtone and shadow areas of your image and often resembles small dots of color, which can ruin a perfectly good image.
There are countless ways of reducing camera noise using Photoshop and this tutorial is by no means the end all be all of color noise reduction.  In fact, this method works best for reducing small amounts of color noise since it primarily reduces the color not the texture.  By reducing the color it gives the illusion of less noise.  It’s a simple technique geared toward newbies that can yield huge benefits!

Step 1

Duplicate the background layer.  You can do this by simply dragging the background layer into the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers window.

Step 2

Change the Layer Blending Mode from ‘Normal’ to ‘Color’.


Step 3

Apply Gaussian Blur Filter from the Filter menu.  The amount of blur will determine the amount of reduction.  Be careful not to over-blur because adding too much blur will de-saturate the color information in your image.
Because we changed the blending mode on the layer, only color information is being blurred.  The luminosity (detail information) stays unaffected.  Again, this will only reduce the color in the noise, not the texture itself…sometimes this is enough, other times it is not, but I find this technique to be a good first line of defense.
At this point a layer mask can be added to the blurred layer and the layer can be selectively painted so as not to affect the entire image.  This is optional, but highly recommended.
This technique could also be utilized to remove moiré patterns from fabric! 
What techniques do you use to reduce color noise? Have an amendment to the above technique? Let me know in the comments!


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