Experimenting With Lightroom’s New Denoise Feature

by | Jun 22, 2024 | Perspective, Stories & Expeditions | 1 comment

I totally didn’t feel like getting up that drizzly, spring morning in Texas. We had just come off a 5 day Photography Team at the Family Conference and I was very tired after having gone to bed after midnight almost every night for a week.

But this was the one and only opportunity Julianna & I had to go birdwatching with my brother, Donald, before he headed back to West Virginia. He said he was hoping to see some anhingas down at “The Ponds”. And who knows what else we might see!

So I dragged myself out of bed. I told Julianna that she and Mordecai could stay back to get some rest. But it’s not like Julianna to stay behind. So the three of us jumped in the car when Donald came to pick us up!

Before descending down the rocky, dirt road to The Ponds, we scooted across a bumpy, gravel road that went through a giant cow pasture. And that’s where we saw a bunch of these really neat scissor-tailed flycatchers!

I pulled out my giant birding setup: a 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 2x extender on a Canon 7Dii. Wonderful for getting closeups, but not the most wonderful for noise-free photos when it’s a cloudy, almost rainy early morning.

I rolled down the window, sat up in its place, and set the camera to the slowest shutter speed I dared to use: 1/400th sec. Even though I was able to set the aperature all the way down to f/5.6, I still needed to crank the ISO to 12800 to get a descent exposure.

This was the result, tweaked a bit in Lightroom:

240418_James Staddon_4580 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 12800-2

At the time, I didn’t think the pictures I was taking there were going to go anywhere. Even if I happened to get them sharp enough, the grain would just be too much.

But fast forward to this week. In Lightroom, I decided I’d try the new “Denoise” feature. It uses AI to reduce noise on RAW files.

And this is what it was able to do:

240418_James Staddon_ Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 12800

I am very impressed! Not as good as if all the circumstances were ideal on-location, but it does a good job of salvaging a less-than-ideal situation.

I tried Denoise with another photo. This shot did not have the exposure properly adjusted in camera. The series below is the original file, then adjusted in Lightroom, then with Denoise applied:

240418_James Staddon_4588 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800-2

240418_James Staddon_4588 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800

240418_James Staddon_ Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-400 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 800

Very helpful. I feel like I could actually use these photos for something now!

Here’s another series on a sparrow in the same field.

240418_James Staddon_4647 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 380 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 500-2

240418_James Staddon_4647 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 380 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 500

240418_James Staddon_ Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 380 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 500

It’s interesting how when the advanced Denoise is applied it reveals the fact that the eye is not tack sharp in this photo. You may not be able to see in the small version above. But you can notice it when seen at a 1:1 ratio.

Lightroom_jEt7eccc9H

I wish I had taken the time to make sure that photo was tack sharp! Though I intentionally do not rely on post-processing to fix photos, I do think that knowing about Denoise will help me be more diligent in making sure my photos are focused properly and perfectly, even when I know that a photo will be very grainy. Since I was thinking my photos were useless because of high noise levels, I was letting myself be slack in focusing. Isn’t it easy to let one area slide (focusing) when you know there’s another area that isn’t good (noise levels)?

I think it’s interesting how this parallels in our spiritual lives! It’s easier to respond incorrectly to one irritation when I’m guilty of having responded incorrectly to a previous irritation. Have you experienced this? For example. When Mordecai cries. It generally doesn’t bother me. But the other day. I was irritated at some random thing in the office. I responded incorrectly and said some things I shouldn’t have said. I stepped away to do the dishes. And guess what. Mordecai starts crying. And that irritated me! Why? It had nothing to do with him. It was a normal situation. But I was one of those “irritated at the world” people because I had failed to admit my incorrect response to the first situation! If the first situation had been resolved, I would not have found the second situation to be irritating. Instead of “trying not to be irritated at a crying baby”, I needed to go back and admit I was wrong and ask forgiveness for the things that I did in the first situation. “He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall have mercy.” If I find myself letting my guard down in one irritation, it would wise for me to ask my conscience what unresolved guilt there might be from previous situations. Once a past mistake has been resolved, there will be new grace and motivation to face properly the situation at hand. Tis a good motivation to take care of things right away, too!

But I digress!

I didn’t use Denoise on any of the other photos I took on that little excursion. I didn’t think it was worth the time. But we did get to see the anhingas once we got down the rocky, dirt road! They were super far away, but they were there!

240418_James Staddon_4624 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 1250

240418_James Staddon_4642 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 1250

There were also these lonely water lily flowers that I thought were interesting enough to photograph.

240418_James Staddon_4637 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 1250

240418_James Staddon_4639 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 400 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 400

I’m glad I got up that morning to go birding with Donald, even if it didn’t turn out to be the ideal photography opportunity. If nothing else, I sure learned a lot about Denoise because of it!

About a week after that early morning excursion, I went on another photography excursion, only this time in the middle of the day. Despite this handicap, it’s incredible the closeup shots I was able to get on some birds! Will look forward to sharing them with you in the next blog post!

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1 Comment

  1. Donald

    Thank you, brother!

    Yes, that was a sultry morning. It seemed even the birds would sleep in that day … but they didn’t. And you redeemed that time! It was a good memory with all three of you and I’m glad we went. I must add that I was inspired by another birder and his small family of four who had taken the time a few days prior to show me the area. Only that day, no anhingas appeared. It was simply a good time together as birders and the Lord was reminding me that who you go with is as memorable as what you see.

    By the way, yesterday was another chapter in the same book when I went out with our nephew. Seeing a warbler or a woodpecker was not the only fruit of our early rising. We talked about many things. Thank you for capitalizing on that time in Texas and using it to make a post with a point that many others can enjoy and learn from. It is engaging to read, the way you drew the analogy and brought out the application before unveiling the anticipated pictures. There’s a lot to be said for saving wild bird life, but your frank encouragement to keep one frustration from spilling into another could save who knows how many relationships, at least for the short term, when trifles clutter about, or babies begin to hoot and howl.

    It has been almost non-stop action since that day in the marsh. I do need the love of the Lord which “endureth all things” and never fails. God bless you (and your new de-noising tools as well) as you do your redeeming work.

    We’ll look forward to next time.

    Reply

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