Adobe Lightroom is probably the most preferred of all post processing tools out there. It is the fastest way to make some essential retouching to your photos and requires little to no training in order to get started. Adobe Lightroom happens to be my favorite post-processing tool (No, I don’t get anything for saying this). I prefer it over Photoshop for all my light retouching work. In this article I shall be discussing specifically about one particular feature – noise reduction in Lightroom and how you can effectively reduce a majority of noise in your images using nothing but the sliders in the Development module.

Before I begin I must mention that noise in digital photography is not the same thing as noise in film photography. Noise that you see in digital photography happens due to signal amplification. In other words when you pull the ISO to a higher number (especially when shooting in low light conditions) you are actually boosting the light sensitivity of the digital sensor so that it can amplify the signal. When you amplify a signal noise invariably creeps in. In signal transmission parlance this is known as static.

There is always some amount of noise in all your images, even at the lowest ISO setting and even when shooting in bright conditions. But the noise to signal ratio is so low that it is barely visible. When shooting in extremely low light situations the noise to signal ratio becomes high and thus noise becomes more and more visible, appearing like little specs of black spots.

You can reduce noise with most post processing software available in the market. The solution has the effect of blurring the image to some extent. There are different combinations of sliders that you can use to approach this problem. Let’s try our hand at some of these and find out how a typical image shot in low light reacts to attempts at noise reduction in Lightroom.

Here’s an image of a 2000 year old inscription shot inside a Jain Cave in the state of Orissa. The image was shot at ISO 320, which is not too high a number but there is some visible noise nevertheless. I had tweaked it before but will now reset it to show you how it looked SOOC.

noise reduction in lightroom

This is how the image looks like SOOC


Here’s an enlargement which shows the inscriptions, which I must admit are barely visible. I must also admit that I was lazy not to bring my prime lens on this trip or the image would have been a lot sharper. But let’s see if we can salvage some details out of it.

how to do noise reduction in lightroom

An enlargement of the original image that shows the 2 millenium old inscriptions


Let’s first start with the usual workflow. Profile set to Camera Standard, Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberrations. Next, Color Temperature was reduced to around 4500. The rock edifice and the entire area was less warm in color when I saw it with my naked eyes and I have tried to emulate the same feel in the image. This is how it looks like after the initial corrections.

basic post processing using lightroom

After, profile correction, chromatic aberrations removed and color temperature adjustment


Now let’s go straight to image sharpening. Sharpening makes the inscriptions a bit more prominent bringing out more detail. But with detail now there are also a lot of artefacts and noise introduced to the image as well.

sharpening in adobe lightroom

Sharpening adjusted


To eliminate these I will now use the Noise Reduction feature that is built-in to Lightroom. I have dragged the Luminance slider about three quarters to the right. The idea is to find a point of balance between detail and image noise.

In certain cases pulling the Blacks and Shadows slider under Basic also helps to reduce noise.

How to apply noise reduction in Lightroom

After noise reduction has been applied


And this is a quick before and after comparison:

post processing using lightroom

Before and after views


I leave you with the final edited image here:

noise reduction in lightroom

Final Edited Image – Photo by Rajib Mukherjee


There are easier ways to get noise eliminated from your images. All you have to do is hire one of the many professional photo editors and re-touchers on

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favourite pursuits.
Rajib Mukherjee

You may also like

Amy Grace October 25, 2021

How to Create a Ghost Mannequin Effect in Photoshop

It can be alarming for e-clothing stores when someone adds a product to the cart but does not ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 23, 2017

How to Extend Background in Photoshop

Let’s imagine that you are standing in front of this beautiful sunset. You set up your camera, set ...

Ben Novoselsky June 29, 2017

7 Main Mistakes when Retouching Wedding Images

If there were one genre of photography that you could do without retouching then that genre would ...

Rajib Mukherjee December 21, 2015

Some creative uses of Depth of Field

The main shooting mode dial on your camera has the letter(s) A or Av (depending on the camera ...

Ben Novoselsky January 7, 2015

How editing your stock photography can lead to more sales

Before you can start selling your images on microstock websites you ought to know a few things ...

Rajib Mukherjee June 23, 2014

Five Reasons You Should Outsource Your Photo Editing Chores

Reason 1 – Liberate the Photographer in You

As much as you love to shoot, post processing ...

Rajib Mukherjee November 10, 2015

A basic 7 step post-processing routine for landscape photos

In this article we shall go through a basic 7 step post processing routine that I personally follow ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 31, 2016

Post-Processing Tips to Improve Average Photos

Adobe Photoshop is an incredible tool. It gives you the power to improve average photos into ...

Ben Novoselsky March 23, 2016

Match Total Exposure in Lightroom

While post processing a recent set of images I came across a few images that had wild exposure ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 4, 2016

Post-Processing an Image in Black and White

Imagine photography sans color. It is unthinkable. Ever since we started our journey in photography ...

Janine Smith May 12, 2016

Extending a Background with Photoshop

Occasionally, when you’re working in photography, you’ll come upon an image that would be better on ...

Rajib Mukherjee November 24, 2015

Using the Dehaze feature on Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom got an interesting addition earlier this year. This feature, technically, is not ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 10, 2014

An introduction to creating timelapse videos

Timelapse videos have become somewhat clichéd these days with an increasing number of photographers ...

Ben Novoselsky April 2, 2016

How to Process your Images for the Cinematic Look?

Before we start processing a sample image for the cinematic look let’s first try and understand ...

Ben Novoselsky June 5, 2015

Ethical Post Processing

Ethical post processing is a fine line that every photographer has to keep in mind when working on ...

Rajib Mukherjee June 21, 2017

Choosing Software for Post-Processing Your Images

Which application is best for post-processing your images?
Several years ago, when I was first ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 17, 2015

An Introduction to Simple Post Processing in Adobe Lightroom

Post processing is a key aspect of your photography workflow. It is the final ingredient that makes ...

Ben Novoselsky August 6, 2014

Auto Exposure Bracketing: Everything You Wanted to Know

Multiple camera shots with different expose combined in HDR photo
by sumitrodda

If you are just starting out in digital photography, you have probably never heard about auto exposure bracketing (AEB). If you are an enthusiast photographer, probably you have heard about this but never quite mastered the concept to use it with confidence. Regardless of your expertise in digital photography this article can help you master an extremely important feature of your DSLR, i.e.; auto exposure bracketing (AEB).


Ben Novoselsky July 29, 2014

4 Methods to Get White Balance of Your Images Correct

Image before white balance correction

Are you plagued with the problem of strange color casts ...

Popular posts

Amy Grace October 25, 2021

How to Create a Ghost Mannequin Effect in Photoshop

It can be alarming for e-clothing stores when someone adds a product to the cart but does not ...