Digital Mythbusting #6

September 08, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

All noise is bad.  Because cameras today are doing such a good job in controlling noise in digital photos, a rather arbitrary idea exists that any noise in a photo is a bad thing.  To the contrary, noise can be helpful.  For example, an image with even a slight bit of noise often will look sharper than an image without any noise.  This was well known by black-and-white photographers who shot
TRI-X; when the grain (which is similar to noise) of that film was sharp in a print, the image looked sharp, even if the focus wasn't spot-on.  Also, photo retouchers often add some noise to images that aren't quite sharp because they know viewers then will have something to focus on, thereby making the photo look sharper.

In addition, noise can add a grittiness to a photo that gives it emotional content that can't be had in any other way.  A photograph of wildlife in extemely bad weather conditions, for example, can look kind of unreal if there's no noise.  Having some noise there adds a feeling of grittiness that adds to the mood.  So consider that noise can give you some creative and technical possibilities.



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