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.


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