In this article, I will show you how you can reduce the effect of moiré in Lightroom. With the release of high-resolution cameras without low-pass filters, moire can be rather problematic to deal with, creating additional headaches when photographing repeating patterns and textures. While you can use different techniques to avoid moire, many of us who shoot architecture and portraiture have to deal with moire after the fact.
Can Moiré be Completely Removed in Lightroom?
As you may have noticed, I used the word “reduce” instead of “remove” in the header of this article. That’s because the moiré pattern often cannot be completely eliminated with a non-destructive editing application like Lightroom (except for mild cases of moiré), especially when moire damages the texture. Photographs with very visible and large moiré patterns in the Luminance Channel can only be completely fixed in Photoshop, which is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. In many cases, you have to sacrifice details to remove moiré completely. This is the reason why I have been recommending most of our readers to buy the regular version of the Nikon D800 instead of the D800E. The latter is a specialized tool for dedicated landscape and macro photographers that want to get the best out of their equipment. The last thing you want is introduce another step to your workflow in order to clean up moiré, just because you picked up the wrong camera.
Using Adjustment Brush to Reduce Moiré in Lightroom
Let’s get started with the same jacket image I presented in “what is moiré” article. I decided to use this image, because it has a very strong moiré pattern with a yellow and green rainbow discolorations. This type of moiré is very hard to fix in post-processing and it requires use of Adobe Photoshop to completely get rid of it. Here is the image we will be working on:
(Image courtesy of photo.net)
Once you have the photo with moiré imported into Lightroom, go to Develop module (press the “D” key on your keyboard), then click the “Adjustment Brush” (or press the “K” key):
Next, slide “Moiré” all the way to 100. If the adjustment brush is too small, you can make it bigger by sliding “Size” under “Brush” to a bigger value or by pressing the “]” character on your keyboard (“[” to make it smaller).
Here is the area I covered with the adjustment brush.
If you cannot see the affected area, then go to Tools->Adjustment Brush Overlay->Show Overlay or press the “O” button on your keyboard. Here is before and after:
As you can see, the yellow and green rainbow colors have been removed from the image. However, the texture still looks strange with visible darker lines (Luminance Channel), which is left over from nasty moiré that damaged the texture. As I have stated before, this kind of moiré is impossible to completely remove in Lightroom. The only way to get rid of it completely, is to use a much more complex procedure in Adobe Photoshop. A separate tutorial on how to remove moire in Photoshop has previously been published.
If you work with the original RAW file, you can use the above technique with a combination of the down-sampling process in Lightroom to get much better results.