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Wildlife photo editing workflow using Adobe Lightroom Desktop, DeNoise AI, and Sharpen AI

Brian Matiash
December 10, 2021
Time to read:
14 Minutes

Improving wildlife photos with Adobe Lightroom, DeNoise AI, and Sharpen AI

If you’ve watched any of our recent workflow videos, you would notice that we’ve mostly started our editing process in Adobe Lightroom Classic. And there is good reason for it as our data shows that the majority of our users use that app to manage and edit their photo collections. However, a growing number of photographers are either starting their Lightroom journey with the “new” version of the app, sometimes referred to as Lightroom Desktop, Lightroom CC, or simply Lightroom. I am one of those photographers who uses Lightroom primarily to store every photo I’ve ever taken since 2009, as you’ll see in the video below.

Let's start with Lightroom

While this article isn’t meant to compare the benefits and limitations between both versions, it is worthwhile to show Lightroom users a functional workflow that incorporates Photoshop as the conduit to our apps. In this case, those apps are DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI. The reason why I’m using Photoshop as the conduit is because that is the only app that Lightroom recognizes as an external editor. Fortunately, our apps play very nicely within Photoshop and it’s easy to move from one app to the other in a layered workflow.Let’s start with the photo in question. I took this photo of a bald eagle recently and when you look at the metadata, you’ll notice that I had to crank my ISO very high. I needed to do this to get a fast enough shutter speed to properly freeze the bird, whose head was constantly swiveling in all directions. It was quite overcast, as well, so the amount of available light was somewhat dim. Here’s the original photo and the metadata for it.

© Brian Matiash

Next, I applied a heavy crop to fill the frame with the eagle and eliminate a lot of the distractions caused by the surrounding pine trees. I also made some initial corrective edits for tone and color, which you can see below.

© Brian Matiash

With that done, I exported the photo to Photoshop by right clicking on the photo and selecting the appropriate menu item.

And thanks to Photoshop’s layer-based interface, I was able to create separate layers to send the image to DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI. Here is a comparison of the original image and the noise-reduced version processed with DeNoise AI.

Pre-DeNosie AI edit | © Brian Matiash
With DeNoise AI noise reduction applied | © Brian Matiash

And here is a comparison of the noise-reduced image and the selectively sharpened image using Sharpen AI. I intentionally kept the sharpening amount very low to avoid oversharpening. That is why the effect may look subtle. But, subtlety is what I often aim for when applying corrective edits to my photos.

With Sharpen AI applied | © Brian Matiash

With the edits complete, I saved the newly created TIFF file and it automatically re-imported in Lightroom. I finished things off with a few minor stylistic edits, including adding Clarity and a vignette. You can see the pre-Photoshop image and the finalized version below.

Original Photo | © Brian Matiash
Final photo using Adobe Lightroom, DeNoise AI, and Sharpen AI | © Brian Matiash

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Brian Matiash

Brian Matiash is a South Florida photo educator who serves enthusiast photographers looking to grow their landscape, travel, and wildlife skills. Learn more on his website and YouTube.