About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Reduce Shadow Noise in Lightroom

Reduce Shadow Noise in Lightroom

Sometimes you can come across an image where the shadows are quite noisy, but there are still details in the mid tones or highlights that you don’t want to soften by applying too much overall noise reduction. You can actually just apply noise reduction to the shadows of an image in Lightroom by using a luminance mask. In this video I show you how to do this.

For those who prefer written instructions, here’s a brief overview…

It used to be the case that in order to selectively apply noise reduction based on the luminance in an image, you would have to send your image to Photoshop, but a few versions back Adobe added luminance masking to the selective editing tools.

So to start with, you need to use one of the selective editing tools to apply an overall mask to the image, and then you can use the luminance mask to limit it to the shadow areas.

The simplest thing to do is use the brush tool. You can actually apply a brushed mask to the entire image, if you need to, but in the example I used, because there is a large area of sky I just brushed over the buildings and the ground. Once you do this, you can now apply a luminance mask.

To use a luminance mask, from the Range Mask pop-up at the bottom of the selective editing panel, select “Luminance”. This will give you the luminance mask option.

Now drag the right widget on the range slider down until it is about 50%. You can use the “Show Luminance Mask” checkbox to show which areas of your image the effect will be applied to.

Luminance Mask in Lightroom

Once you have tweaked the luminance mask, you now just need to increase the noise slider on the secretive editing panel to increase the noise reduction. You can then tweak the mask further util it gives you the desired effect.

Noise reduction settings in Lightroom

That’s pretty much all there is to it. You can do much more advanced editing with this technique though, by adding multiple asks and using different settings for each. It’s probably not something that you need to do on a daily basis, but if you ever come across an image where the shadows are really noisy, now you know what to do!

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