Short-eared owl (backlit) in flight at sunset.

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
N Deacon
OP N Deacon Contributing Member • Posts: 848
Re: Short-eared owl (backlit) in flight at sunset.

Jimfastcar wrote:

N Deacon wrote:

Apologies, but due to the way our planet and solar system are designed I am about to turn in for the night and have a day of field work tomorrow, but I will get back to you properly ASAP. Dng is Adobe's version of a raw file, so broadly accepted.

Look forward to your further advice on this , thanks

Apologies for the delay, I wanted to check that what I was going to say was correct for the latest Adobe and Topaz product versions.

Firstly, you are correct - at the present time Lightroom CC does not support third party editors as plugins - although Lightroom Classic does. In Photoshop, I can use Denoise AI as a plugin from the Photoshop editor but not from ACR. This is annoying.

There are two main ways in which I use Lightroom with Topaz Denoise: -

1. Open the image in Lightroom and set the white balance, profile and any lens corrections - the camera profiles and lens corrections will not be available after the file has been exported to Denoise and then brought back. In terms of editing before export, avoid anything that will increase noise, so leave everything under "effects" at zero. In "detail" set sharpening to zero and leave noise reduction at zero. By default, colour noise reduction will be 25 - that's fine, leave it there. Adjust the image exposure if needed - exposure, highlights and shadows, maybe a little tweaking of the blacks and whites, until the image looks well exposed but a bit flat - no hard highlights, no crushed shadows (turning on the highlight and shadow clipping warnings is very helpful). When you are happy, export the file. Topaz recommends that you do not crop the image before sending it to Denoise - apparently the more image information it has to work with, the better its calculations as to how to get the best outcome. For maximum quality either export as TIF > Full Size > 16 bit > Compression - None or export as DNG which is the Adobe RAW format (but some original RAW settings, mentioned above, will be lost). Then open the saved file in Denoise AI and make your decisions as to which mode to use. It's worth trying the 4-pane preview at 200% or 400% to get an impression of how it's going to look, but I find that the previews are not particularly accurate reflections of how the final product will look. I keep the noise reduction as low as possible, keep the enhance sharpening low (as it can introduce very strange and ugly artefacts if used at too high a setting) and I typically dial in quite a lot (often more than 80%) original detail recovery and nil colour noise reduction (already done by Lightroom) in the post processing sliders. Feel free to run the image through the process a few times with different settings, save and compare - it will give you a better feel for what works best for you. When you save the image, save in the same format you brought it in with or as a TIF.

2. Much simpler, but I find that this is difficult to use with a dark image (the process tends to make dark areas darker, and the preview is more difficult to use - and the "toggle auto brighten" preview currently gives a very misleading impression of how much noise reduction is being applied), simply open the RAW file in Denoise, process using the RAW NR module, adjust as required and export as a DNG. There is little information loss in this process, but as mentioned above your camera profiles will not be available when the file is opened later in Lightroom. You can process batches of files quite easily this way (but it is resource-hungry, so time to make a coffee on a fast machine, time to make dinner or wash the car with a slow one) and it can be very useful for a series of images taken in the same conditions. I would advise testing the settings on a single file from a series before batching the whole lot - it's a pain to have to scrap the whole processed batch and do them again if they are not quite right (been there, done that myself).

My main advice would be to use Denoise sparingly, and not at all if it's not necessary, and to apply it as lightly as you can get away with. In my Photoshop workflow I will sometimes copy a layer and send it to Denoise, then blend it with the background layer(s) back in Photoshop to pull back some texture and detail that Denoise can sometimes smooth too much.

Sorry, that's pretty long-winded but I hope it's of some use. If you have any specific queries that I can help you with, please let me know - probably best via pm rather than through the forum?

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