View Full Version : Photoshop Elements BG Noise Enquiry

Ian McHenry
07-03-2008, 05:24 PM
I would really appreciate advice as to the best workfow in simple terms in order to reduce BG noise using Photoshop Elements.
My version is PSE 5 but I think it is basically similar to the new PSE 6.
I don't understand layers very well so step by step workflow would be fabulous.
Cheers: Ian McHenry

Axel Hildebrandt
07-03-2008, 10:11 PM
I'm not familiar with PS Elements but I think a relatively easy way is to select the BG only and use either 'despeckle' or 'blur' at 2.0 pixels. Depending on the BG you could use the lasso tool or magic wand tool if that is available in this version.

Ian McHenry
07-03-2008, 10:39 PM
Thanks Axel
This version has Magic Selection Brush, Magic Wand, Marquee Tool and 3 forms of Lasso.
Just tried the selection brush and looks promising.

Steve Canuel
07-04-2008, 01:22 PM
Hi Ian,
I'm still using PSE 3 so you're a couple of upgrades ahead of me. I'm no expert and there's probably better ways but I've had good results from just using the selection brush. I haven't quite wrapped my mind around the use of layers but this method works for me. For example, if I have a bird on a stick, I'll "paint" him with the selection brush and run the noise filter on just the BG. The hardness of the brush needs to be adjusted to avoid sharp edges. I find that painting so the paint color is just inside the edge of the masked subject works pretty well. Changing the brush mode between "mask" and "selection" helps you see where your borders are. It will also help you work your subject and BG seperately. I've also done this by creating a Layer (Layer/New/Layer via Cut) but haven't found it to be any easier and than the method I described. As I said, I'm no expert and I'm sure there's a better way but this method has worked for me.

Ian McHenry
07-04-2008, 04:37 PM
That's great Steve.
Still to try this process but really appreciate detailed workflow.
Cheers: Ian Mc

Lance Warley
07-05-2008, 02:45 PM
Noiseware is a terrific plug-in that works with Elements and CS3. I've used it with both. So simple to use and very effective.

Just select the bg and run Noiseware. Sometimes twice. That's about it.

Noel Carboni
07-05-2008, 03:21 PM
You always chance losing the natural feel in an image by running a noise reduction program on the entire thing. It's simply impossible for the noise reduction programs to tell the difference between subtle texture and noise in an out-of-focus background.

What I'd do is something like this:

1. Duplicate the entire image into a second layer. Easiest way to do this is to make the Layers palette visible, with your image open right click on the Background layer, and choose "Duplicate Layer..."

2. Make the top layer invisible for the moment by clicking on the "eyeball" icon at the left of the new layer entry in the Layers palette.

3. Left click once on the lower layer name (Background) to make it current.

4. Choose Filter - Noise - Reduce Noise...

5. Apply an appropriate amount of noise reduction, paying attention to what it does to your background. Don't worry over whether it "blobs out" the main sharply-focused subject, as you will be retaining the original data for that. Depending on whether your background is completly OOF, you might wish to slide "Preserve Details" to 0%.

6. Make the upper layer visible again by clicking on the empty "eyeball" box to the left of the layer. Also click on the layer name to make the upper layer current.

7. At this point you can selectively "cut through" the upper layer using the Eraser or select-then-delete to expose the noise reduced background only where you want it.

8. If you erase or delete too much, go back in the Undo History palette and do it again more carefully.

9. When all done, choose Layer - Merge Down from the menu to squeeze your layers back into a single image.

Hope this helps!


Ian McHenry
07-05-2008, 04:47 PM
Thanks Lance & Noel.
Lots of good information here.
Cheers: Ian Mc

Alfred Forns
07-06-2008, 06:32 AM
Great explanation Noel !!! I'm sure it will drift over to Educational Resources !!!!

Ian McHenry
07-07-2008, 05:43 AM
More acknowledgements and a wee problem !!!
Steve: I followed your process with the selection brush and am very happy with result which can be seen in my later post "First try BG noise reduction" which is still currently in Digital Workflow.
Lance: I don't have Noiseware as a plug-in but do have the free Community Edition.
After masking image I applied the saved image to my Noiseware and it worked fine.
Noel : Your step by step guide was great till I got to No 7.where you lost me. LOL.
If you feel like expanding further would be much appreciated.
My Best to all.
Ian Mc

Ian McHenry
07-07-2008, 06:33 AM
Here is an image where Steve's selection brush process is combined with the use of Noiseware as suggested by Lance.
Thanks guys.
Ian Mc

Noel Carboni
07-07-2008, 08:28 AM
Item 7: Cut through the top layer:

7a. Choose the Eraser tool from the tool palette.

7b. Pick a brush, e.g., 100 pixels, 0% hardness.

7c. Brush over the top layer with the eraser brush where you want to reduce noise. This causes the top layer data to be removed and you can "see through" the layer to expose the noise-reduced layer underneath. The effect is like "painting on" the noise reduction.

7d. Use a selection tool, e.g., the new Quick Selection brush, to draw marching ants around an area you want to noise reduce. Then press the Del on your keyboard (or choose Edit - Clear). That will also cut through the top layer and expose the noise-reduced layer underneath.

Hope this helps!


Ian McHenry
07-07-2008, 05:57 PM
Thanks Noel
Much appreciated. Will give it a whirl.
Cheers: Ian Mc

Ian McHenry
07-08-2008, 02:45 AM
Hi Noel
Didn't quite follow as per script as ended up masking image and applying Gaussian Blur before merging Layers.
Really good learning curve.
Result can be seen in " Avian capture" under "Himalayan Monal Pheasant"
Cheers: Ian Mc

Steve Canuel
07-08-2008, 08:44 PM
Hi Ian,
I looked at your pheasant post. Each one is an improvement over the previous one. I don't know how similar our versions of Elements are but here's acouple of other things I should've mentioned in my first post attempt to help. Keep in mind, I've had no formal training :) When using the Selection Brush Tool, switching back and forth between Mask and Selection mode will help you fine tune your desired subject. Changing the Size and Hardness of your brush will affect the sharpness of your subject's edge/BG blending. For BG work, I alternate between the Clone Stamp Tool and the Healing Brush Tool. I have two types of healing brushes. The Spot Healing Brush and the Healing Brush Tool. With the Spot Healing Brush, you never can be sure where it going to get its sample from and clicking to remove a bright spot from the BG may result in part of the beak from your pheasant being put in its place. I recently found that by using the Healing Brush Tool I can use the Selection Brush to mask off parts of the image I don't want to be "copied" onto the BG. For example, on your pheasant trying to remove a spot from the BG near your bird's chest resulted in some feathers being put into that spot. By using the Selection Brush to mask the bird, the Healing Brush Tool used a similar part of the BG instead. My explanation is probably as clear as mud and I hope it doesn't add confusion. I posted a copy of your image on your pheasant post to show a quick and dirty example. I masked your bird, then ran a little Gaussian Blur and then some Elements NR on just the BG. I then went to Select/Inverse and ran a different level of NR on your bird. Many different ways to do this stuff and as I said before, others are much more knowledgable and better equipped to show you.

Ian McHenry
07-08-2008, 10:38 PM
Thanks Steve
I've saved this in my docs for when I feel like next challenge !!! LOL.
Have left a message on other forum also.
Cheers: Ian Mc

Richard Stern
07-24-2008, 10:23 AM

I have PS Elements 6, and bought the Noise Ninja plugin - which I find invaluable. It has a very nice sharpening algorithm as well as just noise reduction, and you can vary the amount of each. It's easy to download from their site, and then install (at least it was on my Mac). Also, after removing noise from the whole image (or selection) you can paint it back in over parts of the image using the brush within Noise Ninja, if you want. Because of the associated sharpening, I think this tool is best used after re-sizing. So, an appropriate workflow might be --

1. Duplicate the base layer. (in case you want to undo everything and start from scratch later).

2. Re-size (e. g. 800 X whatever, for web or BPN posting).

3. Apply the Quick Selection Tool, or the Magic Wand, or whatever way you want to select the part of the image that needs noise reduction.

4. Apply the Noise Ninja plugin - most of the time you can use the default settings, where it analyses the image and chooses its own settings.

- OR- Apply the plugin to to the whole image, and then selectively paint back the noise to, say, the foreground, or the bird, or whatever, using the noise brush within the plugin.

5. Apply any other sharpening etc. to all, or parts of, the image if needed.

6. Flatten the image for saving once you're sure you don't want to make any further changes.

I'm certainly no expert with PS Elements, and also still on the learning curve, but I find the use of this plugin very easy and quick. However as I recall, the plugin version isn't free.

Hope this doesn't confuse people too much!


Ian McHenry
07-24-2008, 10:19 PM
Thanks Richard
I think you're right about payment for the Noise Ninja plugin.
Appreciate your input.
Ian Mc

Aidan Briggs
06-25-2009, 01:55 PM

All I do is select the bird, hit inverse selection, and then feather the selection 3 pixels. Then I go to the filter menu and choose reduce noise. You can change the amount to whatever you need. It works very well for me, and is very simple.