Photography can be extremely frustrating sometimes. Whether it’s shooting a once in a lifetime photo with the wrong settings, or realising a few of your favourite shots are out of focus. We’ve all been there. To be honest, I still find myself in this situation every now and then. It happens.
If you’ve ever felt like spending your life savings on the latest camera gear which you think will solve all your problems going forward, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to not only produce incredibly high quality results with the camera you already own, but actually fix the photos you’re unhappy with. So forget about your shiny object syndrome for now.
When I bought my super telephoto lens (Sigma 150-600mm) for wildlife photography, I quickly realised I had to bump up my ISO to compensate for a faster shutter speed and the f / 6.3 minimum aperture (@ 600mm). This is something I wasn’t used to at first, with a background of 1.4 and 2.8 aperture lenses. When I got back home to edit the photos I’d taken on my first outing with the lens, I honestly couldn’t believe how grainy the photos were. The sharpness was great though.
The first thing I did was enter ‘How to remove noise from wildlife photos’ on YouTube because the Lightroom detail panel just wasn't cutting it. Like an angel sent from heaven, there was a review of a DeNoise software plugin which just blew me away.
That piece of software was Topaz DeNoise AI. My new top secret editing tool! The first shot I tried it on was a photo of a Nuthatch I’d taken that morning. The photo was in focus and fairly sharp, but the image was plagued with noise like you wouldn’t believe as I had no choice but to shoot at ISO 16,000! See the comparison below for the before and after.
With just a few adjustments, I was able to remove most of the noise from my photo without losing any clarity or introducing any artefacts. Not only was I able to eliminate the noise but the built in Sharpen feature allowed my to achieve a tack sharp image too. All from the use of a simple software tool.
Topaz DeNoise AI Control Panel
DeNoise isn’t the only incredible software tool Topaz have in their arsenal. I noticed a few of the older shots I’d taken while on some incredible trips had missed focus. I had completely put these photos to one side due to the frustration I experienced every time I looked at them! That was until I discovered the Sharpen AI tool..
One of my favourite shots from Durdle Door got caught up in this pile. The sun had pierced through the clouds for a brief moment, enough to create a warm glow on the coastline and I was in the perfect spot to take a great shot. What I didn’t realise in the heat of the moment was the my camera had focused on the beach below, rather than the famous arch in the distance.
After loading the shot into Sharpen AI and selecting the ‘Focus’ AI mode, along with the Auto settings function, the image was brought back to life!
With both of these applications I’ve found the Auto settings function to be incredibly accurate and suitable for the photo I’m editing, only needing to make slight adjustments afterwards to taste. The Auto function will detect the recommend settings and use its AI technology to do the rest.
Topaz Sharpen AI Control Panel
Although these tools are great, but it doesn’t give you an excuse for being lazy and taking bad photos knowing you can fix them later in post. These tools have become a huge part of my workflow but getting the photo as good as technically possible in-camera is far more significant than trying to polish a turd, so to speak.
All the tools mentioned in this post can be used a stand alone application or as a plugin for Lightroom Classic. Meaning you can ‘Edit in DeNoise AI’, much like you would ‘Edit in Photoshop’, to ensure your workflow stays efficient and uninterrupted. Although there is no right or wrong way to use this tool, I prefer to DeNoise or Sharpen my RAW files before applying one of my presets and colour grading.