5 common photo problems, avoided or solved

Here are five common digital photography problems and how to sidestep them or fix them in an image editor.

Tricks for Reducing Noise

If you just can't avoid a little noise, you can smooth out your photos with software. Many photo editing programs come with some sort of noise reduction filter. In Adobe Photoshop Elements, for example, you choose Filter, Noise, Reduce Noise from the menu. Just as you have to contend with trade-offs between ISO and noise, though, you have to weigh the trade-off between reducing noise and erasing useful details in the photo.

With Strength set low and Preserve Detail set high, the image is crisp and sharp, but also unattractively grainy. With Strength set high and Preserve Detail set low, the image loses detail and takes on a "soft focus" glow. I've used the Noise filter on the top half of this photo to show how it affects the scene. Notice that the background and the girl's face are dramatically less speckled; her face, however, has been smoothed to the point that a lot of detail has been lost. Another option is to try a stand-alone noise reduction program. I discussed two good choices--Noiseware and Noise Ninja--in "Eliminate Noise From Your Photos

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