Cutting out the Noise

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I have just received word that Topaz are launching a new version of their DeNoise software tomorrow. As an existing user I receive a free upgrade and wish more software companies would follow this model. If you don’t own the software its priced at $79.99 but if you use the discount coupon code “NOISEFREE” when checking out the price is reduced to $49.99 until the 20/03.

You can use this link to reach the product page of the Topaz Web Site.

I have been playing around a little with a Beta version and I’m quite impressed. Take a look at the following comparison – be sure to click the image to see the enlargement. This is a section of an image viewed at 100% magnification and was shot with a Sony RX10 at ISO640. The top image is unfiltered whilst the lower one has been processed using DeNoise.

ISO640 image showing noise
ISO640 image showing noise
ISO640 after DeNoise has been applied. Yes it's also sharper as there is a deblur option.
ISO640 after DeNoise has been applied. Yes it’s also sharper as there is a deblur option. Notice how the colours appear more neutral also.

I’m going to investigate this further once the full version is out tomorrow.

False Colour Conversion in Infrared Photography

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False colour infrared using Infrared converted Panasonic GX1
False colour infrared using Infrared converted Panasonic GX1

Before I get into the details of this post I need to point out that I’m not a fan of the false colour effect in infrared. That said I do quite like the look of the image above. I realise this is a personal choice and you may or may not like the effect. Despite not liking this effect (other than the odd image) I continue to use the technique as I find it often helps in the conversions to black and white. The increased colour seems to make it easier to separate objects in black and white .

The starting point for the conversion is an infrared image that has been correctly white balanced. You can see the starting point below.

Correct white balance
Correct white balance

As I have mentioned previously in this blog, getting the white balance correct in Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW can be problematic. Here is an example of the image as seen in Lightroom despite using the correct custom white balance.

How Lightroom sees the custom white balance
How Lightroom sees the custom white balance

I have now found out how to correct this and will post something separately on the subject.

Once you have your image white balanced, take it into Photoshop. Here we will do something called a channel swap between the red and blue channels using the Channel Mixer. You can see a screenshot of the channel mixer below.

Channel Mixer in Photoshop
Channel Mixer in Photoshop

In case you are wondering there isn’t a cannel mixer in Lightroom or Elements.

First select the Red channel in the channel mixer. You will notice the red slider is at 100% and the other two sliders are at 0%. Change these sliders so that the blue channel is at 100% and the others are at 0%.

Now repeat this process selecting the blue channel. This time set the blue slider to 0% and the red slider to 100%. The channel swap is now complete and you will see an effect similar to that above.

You can also swap any two channels and are not restricted to the red and blue. The red and blue channels tend to produce the best results though.

Now as I mentioned at the start of this post, I use this technique to support conversion to black and white. With that in mind, here is the final image back and white image. Let me know which image you prefer.

Final infrared conversion
Final infrared conversion

In Memory of Velvia

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Wastwater in the Lake District. Captured on a Sony R1. Processed with Alien Skin Exposure 6.
Wastwater in the Lake District. Captured on a Sony R1. Processed with Alien Skin Exposure 6.

Do you remember Velvia slide film? I used to shoot this stuff all the time. It was horribly contrasty and a pig to scan. It was however the best colour slide film for Landscapes (possibly) and pre digital, all the pro’s in the UK would rave about it.

So why am I telling you all this given digital’s “better”? I just happened to be playing around with this old image shot an a Sony R1, trying different settings in Alien Skin Exposure 6. I was actually looking at the Infrared film simulations but then thought I would check some of the colour slide settings. As soon as I hit the Velvia preset I was transported back in time.

I have to be honest though. The version you see here was toned down a little as I don’t think all you digital users are ready for full on exposure (pun intended) to Velvia. If you haven’t looked at Alien Skin Exposure it’s worth trying the free download.

It’s a great piece of software and no I’m not making any money out of sharing this.

Using Camera Colour Profiles with Lightroom and Camera RAW

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Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile - the colours are more realistic and vivid
Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile – the colours are more realistic and vivid

Readers of this blog and my website will know that I am a fan of the Xrite Color Checker tool. This can be used to create colour profiles for your digital camera and they can make a big improvement to the colours in your images. My own experience has been that without exception they are an improvement on those Adobe ships with its software.

Whilst the camera profiles are great, installing and using them can seem a bit daunting at first. Here then is my guide to downloading and using Camera Colour Profiles with Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

What are Camera Colour Profiles

These are information files that allow Lightroom and Camera RAW to translate a camera’s RAW file data into colours correctly. Without these profile you might find that lovely shade of Red coming out as Purple in your images.

Where Can I Find Colour Profiles

The easiest way (although some people might argue) is to buy the Xrite Colour Passport Checker. Unfortunately that cost money and not everyone wants to take the risk that it will improve the conversion of their RAW files. If you belong to a camera club or photographic society, it might make a sensible group purchase.

An alternative approach is to search on the Internet to see if you can find someone who is selling or giving away (who would be that daft) a profile for your camera. To be honest, this is a bit of a long shot and very few people seem to publish these profiles.

The final alternative is to download the free profiles I created (did I say who would be that daft) from my Lenscraft website . Currently available profiles are Panasonic LX5, Sony RX100, Sony RX10, Panasonic GX1, Olympus EM5 and Panasonic GM1. As and when I change my cameras I will be adding to the available profiles.

How do I install the profiles

Each software application that can use colour profiles is likely to have its own locations from which to access these and probably also use different approaches to installing the profiles. Whilst you can install the files by simply copying them to the correct folder, finding the folder can sometimes be a little tricky. You will need to find the “Adobe\Camera RAW” folder which is where these profiles should be saved, to make them available in Lightroom and Camera RAW.

On my Windows 8 PC the folder location is


Something similar will no doubt exist on the Mac.

Xrite also produce a rather neat solution which is the “DNG Profile Manager”. The tool is available for download at Xrite website

Once the tool is installed, run it and select “File | Open DNG Profile Folder”. This will open the location where the colour profiles are to be copied to. When you have copied the colour profiles to this folder they are installed and will be available in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

How can I use these profiles

In Lightroom you need to open the Develop Module so that you can change the development settings for your images. In the Develop module you will find the different development options down the right side of the screen. At the bottom of these is the “Camera Calibration” tab.

ScreenHunter_1206 Aug. 03 20.36

Notice near to the top of this section is a drop down list called “Profile”. By default this is set to “Adobe Standard” but click on it and you will reveal other profiles for your camera. The profiles are sensitive to the RAW file format so only those compatible with the RAW file will be displayed.

In the following shot you can see the “Olympus E-M5” bespoke profile I created being selected.

ScreenHunter_1207 Aug. 03 20.39

In Adobe Camera RAW the Camera Calibration tab is also on the right side of the screen. It can be selected by clicking on the icon of the camera as shown below. There is then a drop down list of the installed “Camera Profiles”.

ScreenHunter_1208 Aug. 03 20.40

But I can’t see a Colour Profile

If everything has gone well you should be able to use the newly installed profiles but there may be occasions when you can’t see your profile. Here are a few of the possible problems:

  • The RAW file you are processing came from a different camera to the profile. For example if you are processing a RAW file from a Canon 5D MKII, you wouldn’t see a profile for the Olympus EM5 in the drop down list. You only see those profiles that are compatible with the type of RAW file you are processing.
  • You installed your camera profiles correctly but it may be that you did this when Camera RAW or Lightroom were open. Until you restart the software the new profiles won’t be visible/available.
  • You may not be processing a RAW file but a TIFF or JPG image file. Under these circumstances you won’t see the camera profile in the Calibration tab. Instead you will probably see the word “Embedded” as shown below.

ScreenHunter_1209 Aug. 03 20.48

I hope this helps all the Lightroom and Camera RAW users out there.


Friday image No.028

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Lloyds Building, London, Captured on an Olympus OMD EM5 with Olympus 9-18mm lens. Conversion to black and white using Alien Skin Exposure 6.
Lloyds Building, London, Captured on an Olympus OMD EM5 with Olympus 9-18mm lens. Conversion to black and white using Alien Skin Exposure 6.

Some of you might recall that a month or so back I asked people to recommend their favourite image enhancement filters. I love playing around to explore new software and was interested in film emulators. One thing led to another and I ended up trying then buying Alien Skin Exposure 6. I don’t know why I haven’t bothered with this software before but I love it. I will go into the reason why some other time, but I also discovered some great tools (not Alien Skin) for pulling more detail out of my Infrared images which, I will share this in another post.

For now, here is the latest Friday image. I shot this on my trip to London back in April. This is landmark Lloyds Building which I used to pass almost daily when I worked in London. Back then I never paid any attention to it but now I think it’s iconic. In case you’re wondering the conversion to black and white was done in Alien Skin Exposure 6, using one of the Infrared Presets which was then tweaked a little.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday image No.027

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Olympus OMD. All processing in Lightroom
Olympus OMD + 25mm prime lens. All processing in Lightroom

This week has just run away with me again. I think the problem (besides too much work and my mum still being ill) is that I love to experiment. I have just spent the last hour developing some Lightroom film-like presets. So I decided to save some time and share a recent image processed with one of the presets – no other adjustments, just a Lightroom preset.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Free Lightroom Profile – Faded Summer Colour

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Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.
Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.

I promised I would do it if anyone asked, and you have. You can now download my Faded Summer Colour Lightroom preset for free. The preset was used to create the image above and the one in my previous post.

You can download it from a new Presets and Textures page on my Lenscraft website. You will need to log in as a member to download the file (but membership is free). When you download the zip file it contains the preset, installation instructions and a thumbnail sample image.

I hope you enjoy.