Sometimes clients provide photos. Often times those photos are in rough shape. Today we addressed a particularly rough-looking image. It appears to be a photograph taken around 1991 with a disposable camera and digitized in 1994 using a fax machine, then JPG compressed and converted to a TIF (it was sent to us as a TIF). Anyway, it was a tough case that we had little hope for.
After several marginally successful attempts to despeckle the photograph with blurs, unsharpen mask, and resizing, we experimented with Photoshop's noise reduction filter. Never had much success with it in the past but, this time it was like magic. Voilà:
It took a few minutes to dial in the right filter settings. Here's what I used in CS3 from my Vista PC (don't hate).
Additionally, the levels and hue/saturation were tweaked to make the image look less washed out. Aside from those layer adjustments, the Reduce Noise filter did a remarkable job interpolating and smoothing the surfaces--even around areas with fine details. Of note, the "remove JPG artifact" actually deteriorated the quality, so maybe this photo never was JPG-compressed and converted to a TIF. Here's another before/after set with the entire photograph.
Scaling down the full-scale photos hide some of the noise and speckling that was overcome, so for the full effect here's the actual sized side-by-side comparison image (at 1.4mb).