Reduce Noise in Single-Exposure HDR Photographs

This example of reducing noise in a single-exposure high dynamic range photograph shows the controls of a fire engine. It was a casual snapshot taken during an outing.

The tone mapping settings for the photograph in Photomatix Pro aren’t all that remarkable. Strength is 100, and Color Saturation is at 80. Luminosity is 4.0, and Micro-smoothing is at 6.2. No extreme smoothing or other tricks were used.

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The point of this example is to show you a representative sample of the noise levels you can see coming from a single Raw exposure tone mapped in Photomatix. As you can see, noise is definitely visible in this image. It appears more strongly in darker areas, but is especially visible in even-toned areas of any brightness — clouds, blue sky, glass, and other smooth materials.

You catch a break if your subject has a lot of texture. This hides noise. (Other than a slight levels adjustment to warm up this image and cropping, this photo is unretouched, so you can see the noise for what it is.)

You can go just about anywhere to get interesting shots, even casual outings with the family. You’ll exhaust the flowers in your backyard in about 15 minutes. After that, you need to venture out farther to find interesting subjects.

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