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I'm trying to salvage a photo. It was taken in low light with a faster shutter speed. No matter what I do, it is always grainy. I'm interested in how to do this, not just getting it fixed. I use Gimp. Can you suggest how to do this? Attached is jpg file, but I do have the tif file. The tif looks lighter and grainier. enter image description here

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Your histogram is all on the left. Use the Levels adjustment, set your White and Black points, bump the contrast. 30 seconds worth of Lightroom will totally transform this photo. – user4894 Jul 3 '14 at 2:53

I would suggest from my experience with GIMP starting by upping the brightness and the contrast, as that will substantially brighten the photo without too much painful noise.

Secondly, if you have more noise than you would prefer, I would suggest giving the plugin "wavelet denoise" a try, as it's a powerful denoising tool that -- if used correctly -- can reduce noise without the loss of too much detail.

Additionally, for an all around post processing boost, I would suggest GMIC which stands for GREYC's Magic for Image Computing, and is a plethora of plugins that can handle anything from sharpening to denoising to providing filters for your images. It's something that (in my opinion) GIMP should have by default.

Hope this helps you out!

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Most of my hummer shots are underexposed because I crank up the shutter speed on my Powershot SX160IS and I've found that LightZone (now free) does a fantastic job of recovering them.

Here's a quick LightZone recovery of your shot:

LightZone recovery

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Can you explain a little more how one would go about using Lightzone to do this? – mattdm May 23 '14 at 18:27

Gladly. As you probably know one of LightZone's most powerful and useful tools is the ZoneMapper so I used a Style (i.e., filter) I found on the internet that uses ZoneMapper to increase exposure (I've tried making exposure adjustments with ZoneMapper myself, but I don't have the experience with it to get the best results). Then I added a Tone Mapper and increased the Gamma, then added a bit of Vibrance and Luminosity with the Hue/Saturation Tool, and finally added a High-Pass Filter to sharpen the midtones and highlights. It was all done in a few minutes. I don't notice a lot of noise, but then I process for print and I've read that noise can be mitigated with printing.

Sorry, I'm not accustomed to posting here so I didn't add this to my original answer. Lesson learned for the future.

numberwang: The ToneMapper is in the Style sidebar under the High Contrast category and in the Styles Menu under the same category.

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Thanks. This is great! But this isn't a forum - you should edit into your existing answer rather than providing a new one. – mattdm May 23 '14 at 19:26
Where is the ToneMapper? I don't see it in any of the menus – numberwang May 24 '14 at 2:12
Finally getting back to this. Under Styles . High Contrast I have Polarizer,Soft Wow!, Soft Wow! 2, Wow!, no ToneMapper. I am using LightZone version 4.0.0 – numberwang Jun 7 '14 at 14:45

One thing you could try is converting the photo in RawTherapee using either of LMMSE or IGV, its two demosaicing algorithms optimized for noisy images. When I tested them against other RT algorithms and Adobe Camera RAW, they were clearly superior. I didn't see a significant difference between the two.

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