ACR Noise Reduction + Blend If = Awesome!
There are many ways to do the same things in Photoshop, why would Noise Reduction be any different? From Adobe Camera Raw to the Reduce Noise filter there are several options for getting rid of those pesky High ISO annoyances. While you may be doing everything right to reduce your noise, have you ever considered using Blend If?
Maybe you have, and maybe you have tried using Blend If but then wrote it off because of its seemingly random nature. Blend If, in the Layer Styles, can be very useful for Noise Reduction, but it can also be difficult to see where the effect is being applied as you use the sliders.
The other day I was in Photoshop adjusting some masks, and I really liked that I could either press ALT (OPTION on Mac) or the \ key to see where my mask was affecting the image. I wanted to replicate that with Blend If, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. That is until I combined a Clipping Mask with a Color Fill Layer.
The Clipping Mask is a layering technique in Photoshop that tells the layer you have selected only to apply itself to the layer directly below it. It is very powerful in compositing as you can make one mask and apply many effects to the layer via Clipping Masks.
With Noise Reduction, you can do something very similar. In this tutorial, I will show you how to make an extreme noise reduction technique, and then only apply it to the shadows. While I show you this technique, I will also show you the Clipping Mask ad how effective it can be when you want to see exactly what your Blend If adjustments are affecting in your photograph.