Creating a Noise Reduction Action

Posted: June 28, 2010 in Tutorials


Third party noise reduction software works extremely well, but if you don’t have the money to purchase such software this technique will work well for you.

Noise is a problem in low light situations when the ISO of your camera is set high.  I always press Ctrl J (PC) Cmd J (Mac) to copy the layer.  This does two things.  It protects the background layer and it gives the option to reduce the opacity or change the blending mode later too.  I use the surface blur filter built into Photoshop for this technique.  This slightly blurs areas that are similar without affecting the edges.  By doing this, Photoshop keeps the image crisp. 

In order to make this into an action, you have to launch the Action Palette if it’s not already in your workspace.  You do this by clicking the Windows tab and putting a check mark by Actions.  I have already made a group called Mike’s Actions to put all actions I use into so I don’t have to hunt for them later.  To make a group, click on the folder icon that is the fourth from the left at the bottom of the palette, title the group whatever you want.  Once you name your group, click on create new action icon next to the trash can or fifth from the left and title your action. 

Once you have named your action, you are ready to start the process that you want to repeat.  On the Layers, Channels, Paths palette, click on the Channels tab and then click on the Red Channel

Now click on the Filter tab, go down to Blur, and choose Surface Blur from the menu. 

You will have to adjust your settings depending on the image resolution.  Click OK on the Surface Blur dialog box.  Now Click on the Green Channel.  You will repeat the Surface Blur for this channel and the blue channel.  You could click on Filter tab, go down to Blur, and choose Surface Blur again, but it is easier to press Ctrl/Cmd F.  This feature repeats the last filter applied.  Once you have completed this click back onto the RGB Channel which highlights all three channels, and then switch back to the Layers Palette by clicking on the Layers tab.

Now that you have switched back to the Layers tab, stop your action by clicking on the stop playing/recording button.  It is the square icon to the far left.  This changes the red, record, button off and changes its color back to a gray scale color.

You have now made an action so the next time you have an image that has noise that you want to reduce, all you have to do is click on the play button icon, the point that is third from the left and Photoshop does everything you just did in a matter of seconds.


Moose Peterson

Posted: June 28, 2010 in PhotoshopWorld
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I first met Moose Peterson on a 7 day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in August of 2008.  This cruise was a seminar cruise all about Photoshop and Photography.  There were three other instructors, Dave Cross, Matt Kloskowski, and Laurie Excel.  Moose is one of the most down-to-Earth individuals I have met.  He is chock full of information to help budding photographers.  Moose is so full of information; I believe someone would have to really know what to ask for in order to get answers.  However, I was such a novice that he saw several things I was doing wrong.  The main thing he pointed out to me was the way I held the camera.  Instead of holding it with my left hand under the lens, I was holding the camera from both sides.  Quite frankly, I forgot how he actually got the message across to me, but he really did it in such a way that really did bring it home. 

I will meet him again and be introduced to Joe McNally at a PhotoshopWorld pre-con that is a photo safari.  This session has an extra cost of $299 added to the price of the convention, but I feel it is well worth it.  The description on the PhotoshopWorld website is; “Explore sunny Las Vegas with noted photographers Moose Peterson and Joe McNally in this hand-on workshop aimed at teaching the latest lighting and shooting techniques. There’s no better way to learn digital photography than getting behind the camera while shooting side-by-side with these two seasoned professionals.”  I am very glad that I signed up early because this particular workshop is already sold out. 

Making this workshop, to me, is extremely important because of the growth I have had in my photography skills in the past two years.  I know I have a long way to go to be a “good photographer”, but I am making progress.  Spending 9 hours on August 30, 2010 with two seasoned veterans will do a lot to improve my skills.


Moose Peterson Helping Laurie Excel

Moose Peterson helping Laurie Excel photograph a Buddhist Monk on Maui

Scott Kelby’s wit along with his strong communication skills allow him to teach in a manner that is very entertaining.  The sound system malfunctioned at one of his presentations that I witnessed at PhotoshopWorld in 2007.  His quick thinking and humorous reactions while continuing to thoroughly educate the subject matter, kept the audience in stitches.  This allowed the group to forget they/we were learning because we were having so much fun doing it.  That said, I teach the same way I witnessed him instruct that day.  It is inevitable that you will run into problems while teaching computer classes because something will go wrong.  Any time I have a problem whether it’s something I did or a computer glitch, I turn it into a fun experience for my class.  I get them to laugh at my expense, but they get the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes.

Scott’s books are written the same way.  I absolutely hate reading the average text book especially if it is of a technical nature.  Since I teach computer classes at Oklahoma City Community College, I have read a lot of books that will, quite frankly, bore you to sleep.  However, Scott’s books are written in a fashion that keeps the reader or student entertained while they are learning.  I fully understand that some folks do not like the humor.  You can see this with some of the comments for his books written into sights like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  But, comments that state they like his wit & humor far outweigh the negative ones.  And, since he is #1 in photography book sales worldwide, he must be doing something right.

I could go on and on about the positive way this man has influenced my life, but enough is enough. 

The image that I have put into this post is a before and after of a young woman of which I took senior pictures.  The retouching is a combination of Scott Kelby, and Vincent Versace techniques.  Fixing the skin blemishes, the hair, and the lips & eye color are Scott’s techniques.  The lighting and blurring were from Vincent’s session at PhotoshopWorld last September in Vegas.  

Be sure to click on the image for a high-resolution full-size image to really see the details.

Megan Before and After

Scott Kelby NAPP Founder

Posted: June 26, 2010 in NAPP
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Devil Dog

Devil Dog

High Contrast Process Learned from Scott Kelby

After I posted to my blog on Friday, I realized that I did a great disservice to Scott Kelby.  He should have been first and everyone and everything else later.  It is hard to know where to start with what I have learned from Mr. Kelby in one way or another.  So I’ll start at the day I went to my first NAPP One-Day Seminar in Arlington, Texas hosted by Ben Willmore.  This was in December, 2006.  Of course that particular day I had no idea that Scott Kelby even existed, but I knew by the way that seminar was structured that I had to join NAPP that day.  I have never looked back.  Photography, or simply taking pictures, has been something that I have liked to do for quite some number of years.  However, I never had any formal training at all.  I had taken a Photoshop class at OCCC, my employer, during the fall semester of 2006 so I could learn how to make some of the photos that I have taken look a little better. 

The NAPP member website that I had access to after I joined on that fateful December day is amazing.  They have at least four new tutorials posted their every week and the old tutorials are available to members with a simple click of the mouse.  One thing about all of the tutorials that really helped me was the way that they all tell how to do the steps whether you are using a PC or a Mac.  Most of them use Macs, but I use a PC so this is extremely helpful to me.  They usually mention that it’s not that you will match the tutorial, but the steps involved are the important part.  I have heard time and time again that mistakes are not bad if you learn something from them, and that one should continually experiment.  I feel that these extremely user friendly tutorials are made in a customer service oriented company that is due to a culture induced by Scott Kelby.  

I went to my first PhotoshopWorld in Las Vegas in September 2007.  I met Scott for the first time then.  Even though I felt like a star-struck fan of a rock star when I introduced myself, Scott reached out and shook my hand as if he had known me all my life.  Scott Kelby is an extremely kind individual who wants to pass his knowledge to anyone willing to listen and learn.  He not only teaches how to be a better photographer or Photoshop user, but his teaching style mixed with intense humor is contagious.  In fact, I have used his teaching techniques in every class I teach.  If I can teach my students and give them a good laugh along the way, I have succeeded.

I will add more to the story of Scott Kelby on the next blog post tomorrow.

I think the next week or so will focus on PhotoshopWorld and what one can learn while having fun.  PhotoshopWorld is put on by NAPP & Kelby Training, and is held from September 1 through September 3, 2010.  If a person did only the conference and nothing else, they would have 3 days of almost non-stop learning injected with infectious fun too.  There are Pre-Conference workshops that are worth every penny.  In fact, the one that is the most expensive is already sold out.  The instructors that NAPP uses for this conference are second-to-none.  I will discuss Vincent Versace for a bit today. 

Vincent Versace is a master of black and white photography.  His PhotoshopWorld classes are very good.  He has a lot of downloadable freebies for attendees to his sessions.  He has 3 PSW classes that include, “The Lazarus Effect of Raising the Dead Pixel: How to Undo an Out of Focus Photograph”, “Black & White Conversion Techniques”, and “Hollywood Lighting on a Laptop and Bokeh: The Science of Focus and the Art of the Blur!”  He is a recipient of the Computerworld Smithsonian Award in Media Arts & Entertainment and the Shellenberg fine art award, a six-time nominee to the Photoshop Hall of Fame and the best-selling author of Welcome to Oz a Cinematic Approach Digital Still Photography with Photoshop. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. Vincent was the original host of the Epson Print Academy. He is the photographer of Immediate Assistants Medical Rescue Go team and one of the members of the photographic team of Eco-Challenge. He was commissioned by the San Francisco Presidio National Park to create a permanent collection of art for the park. Vincent is former member of the board of directors of Los Angeles chapter of the American Photographers Association and is also a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals “Instructor Dream Team” and teaches regularly at PhotoshopWorld as well as being a regular instructor for the US Navy Combat Camera School, the Maine Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe Photographic and Palm Beach Photographic Workshops.

I saw him teach last year at PhotoshopWorld, and I’m glad I did.  I learned a lot about sharpening different areas of a photograph.  I have also been working toward improving my black and white conversions to look somewhat presentable.  The image below is of a part of the Teton Range in Wyoming with Jackson Lake in the foreground.

Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Hi I’m Mike Reeves

Posted: June 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I am completely ate up with learning more about photography. Each and every day I read the blog of Scott Kelby in an attempt to see what is new and “HOT” in the world of photography and Adobe Photoshop. If you don’t know, Scott Kelby is the founder of National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). I joined NAPP in December of 2006. I feel I have learned more about photography in the last 3 1/2 years than I did in the previous 40+ years.
NAPP’s bi-annual conference, PhotoshopWorld, will be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV from September 1-3, 2010.
I hope to bring some real ideas in the months and years to come and help others gain the passion I have for photography and Photoshop. While doing this I would hope others can learn from me.

The photograph is of an A10 Warthog taken at the Star Spangled Salute in Oklahoma City’s Tinker Air Force Base on Sunday, June 20, 2010. The only adjustments were some RAW adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw from Photoshop CS4 Extended. After it opened in Photoshop, I used NIK Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 Tonal Contrast at the default settings.

A10 Warthog from the OKC Air Show 2010