Cheap, easy photo editing: A short review of Noiseless

It’s a small app that makes a big difference. Not just in my photos, but also in the time I have to spend on them.

review of noiselessNoiseless is the name of a little program by Macphun that I recently bought, downloaded, and started using on the old grainy slides and scanned photos that were the main content of the family photo book I recently completed for a client. It really saved me a lot of time—and therefore it saved my client a lot of money.

Noisy photos

Digital noise is a problem particularly in photos taken in low light or at low resolution. Typically, I use Photoshop’s Filters and Adjustments options to eliminate noise, but it’s a tedious process. The goal in this kind of editing is to reduce the noise but preserve the detail, and that can be a difficult balance to find.

Noiseless does it all in one swipe. Easy.

Wanna see?

review noiseless
The print I have of this photo is a copy of someone else’s 20-year-old point-and-shoot original, and I scanned it on a low-quality scanner. Lots of noise.
noiseless review
I opened the image in Noiseless and applied the “Extreme” preset. I was worried about losing too much detail around the tentacles on this rambutan (an Indonesian fruit), but they came out pretty well. And my fingers look awesome!


A true review of Noiseless might go into detail about how the software works, what your settings options are, and the actual process of using it. But I’m going to cut to the chase: It works. And it’s easy.


It’s also cheap. I bought Noiseless for only $14.99, and later I saw it in the app store for $9.99 (doh!). There is also a Pro version for $59.99 that can be used as a plugin for programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, as well as a standalone app.

I recommend Noiseless

If you have old JPEGs that were scanned at lo-res, or you tend to take a lot of pictures at dusk, I recommend Noiseless as a cheap, easy way to eliminate digital noise and improve your images.

Time and money

time and money

Time and moneyA few months ago I told you about a project I had started for a client who needed help editing her life story. The project still isn’t finished, but we are getting close. (I think.)

Will my client be happy with the end result? I’m not sure. It has cost us both a lot of time and money.

A high price

She’s paying a high price. We agreed on an hourly rate, and I’ve invested a lot of hours—not just scanning all her photos, but also labeling them in a way that will be meaningful to her children if they decide they want the JPEGs. (Not all the scanned JPEGs will appear in the final printed book.) Many of the originals she gave me were torn, spotted, flecked, and yellowed, so I’ve invested time correcting the blemishes and enhancing the color. (She didn’t ask me to do this, but I think she’d regret it if I didn’t.) Sometimes she gave me the same photo more than once with different instructions, and I scanned it both times but named it and filed it differently, and those duplicates became confusing later.

I feel bad that it’s costing so much. I wish it didn’t. For me, it wouldn’t be worth it to pay this much money for a book like this. I would rather spend the time and do it myself.

But I can do it myself. She can’t. (She tried.) Scanning and organizing 500+ photos, and then choosing, enhancing, and laying out roughly 200 of them, and then preparing high-resolution CMYK files to upload to a printer that will print and bind only four copies—well that takes a lot of time and some specialized knowledge. That’s what costs so much.

A limited budget

My client is on a budget, and I know this. I’m trying to be respectful of this. So each time she drops off a new envelope of “must-include” photos, or emails me new details she wants to squeeze into a caption on an already crowded page, or ignores the specific questions I’m asking and sends a rambling story instead—I remind her of how much money she has left and how much time it will take me to do the new things she’s asking. Her main concerns are that her kids won’t appreciate the book, or that she won’t have equal numbers of photos of each grandchild, or that she’ll offend someone she left out. My main concern is that she’ll spend all her money and she still won’t have a finished book.

A gift given

What she’s paying is a lot of money to her. I suppose it’s a lot of money to me too, but it represents weekends and late nights and vacation days that I spent with my hand on a trackpad instead of a tennis racket, alone in my office instead of out with family and friends. Those are hours I won’t get back. She bought them from me so that she’ll have a gift to give her family.

But when we reach the end of her budget, I’ll keep working. Those are hours I’ll give to her so she can get the book she wants. I’ve decided this already.

A decision made

I’ve also decided I’ll continue to track those hours I’m giving. I’ll continue to submit my invoice each month, with the dates and hours worked, and a description of what I’ve accomplished in each session. The invoice will show the dollar value of those hours, but some of them will be stamped “gratis.”

You see, if I don’t give her this information, she won’t know how much this gift is worth, how much it’s costing both of us. She has already suggested that there are other projects she wants me to do for her. I want her to understand why I’ll have to turn those down. I just can’t afford to give this much time all the time!




I just got a call from my client. I had given her a hard-copy printout of the book and asked her to review it. She was overwhelmed. “Unbelievable,” she told me. “It’s just brilliant. I love the choices you made and the way you put it all together. I cried when I saw it. It was worth every nickel I had to pay.”

For me, that makes it worth every hour I had to spend.

That’s what time and money are all about.

Observing another 9/11


Somehow, September 11 makes me a little—I don’t know—emotional, or something. Not exactly depressed, but sort of nostalgic and thoughtful. This post from a few years ago is the closest I’ve come to capturing those feelings.

Remembering the good that followed 9/11

originally published September 7, 2011

I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but there are some things I miss about the weeks and months following September 11, 2001.

True, it may be easier for me to say this because I suffered no personal loss on that day. I have no personal connection with anyone who died in the Twin Towers, or on any of the four planes that were used as missiles.

But saying that I miss the days following 9/11 is not meant to be flippant. In fact, it actually honors the memory of those who died, as well as the grief of their survivors. Because the things I miss are the noble things they lived and died for.

Faded glory

It’s hard now to remember the goodness of those first weeks. It sounds trite to talk about how we “came together” as a nation, but it’s true. We came together in a way that was larger and purer than anything we’ve done since. We all cried. We all needed help. We all felt betrayed.

We were vulnerable. Yet we dared to express our fears and tears with each other because it was somehow safe to do so. We were all so genuinely sensitive of each other, so very careful and tender!

Do you remember?

We had real conversations.
We wrestled together with issues of faith and anger.

We sacrificed—and we would have given more, if there had been something more to give.

For days, our radios and TVs aired nothing but coverage of the tragedies. Not out of sensationalism or because that’s where the ratings were, but because the media were keeping us connected. Regular programming was suspended. In fact, no commercials ran during those first few days because no one wanted to shatter our fragile connection by jarring us with meaningless jingles for superfluous products. It would have been inappropriate.

Do you remember that?

We spent our lunch hours and breaks building relationships with our co-workers, talking about values and feelings. Listening. Sharing.

We left work early to spend time with our families.

We called old friends instead of watching the game.

We prayed—some angry prayers, some hopeful prayers, all sincere and honest.

We found strength in admitting our weakness.

Real beauty

Those horrible, confusing, painful days following September 11, 2001, also shimmered with a delicate beauty. Though it was real, it gradually faded, because that is the nature of beauty born from tragedy, of good forged from evil. It lives only as long as we give it life.

Do you remember?

Do you miss those things too?


(Author’s note: Photos in this post were taken during a 2007 visit to Ground Zero in New York City.)



When I first moved into my new LifeLines office space not quite a year ago, I gave you a look “behind the screen.” At that time I had nothing hanging on the walls—I was still enjoying the blank canvas of clean, fresh paint.

Throughout the year, I’ve gradually allowed the paint to become a backdrop for other sources of inspiration, and I thought LifeLines readers might appreciate an update:

inspiring - view
I still love my green walls, and I find that my view out the window is more inspiring than distracting.
inspiring - exploring
The wall I look at most often is now covered with this piece I found in a furniture store. The painted beach is textured with actual stones and sand, and I love the three-dimensional effect. The scene reminds me of family vacations in Florida, where I spent long childhood days exploring and discovering and learning from my grandparents.
inspiring - family
To my right are these smaller framed works, including a series of poems I wrote as a child. My young sister illustrated them and my proud grandmother had them framed. Of course, they are not terribly impressive writings, but I kept them after my grandmother and grandfather died because it meant so much to me that they meant so much to her.
inspiring - tragedy
Behind me, where I can’t see them all the time, are these photographs from 9/11/01. For no particular reason, I was deeply impacted by this national tragedy. I had never been to New York City, and I suffered no personal loss during those days, but I was intrigued by our national response and the national mood—immediately and in the months following. There are things about those days that I never want to forget.
inspiring - art
I have just begun filling this wall with masterpieces from people who are an inspiring part of my everyday life: a woman from my church who used to teach art, a neighbor who was willing to part with “Heart to Heart,” my young niece who seems to have some natural talent, and my mother who refuses to believe she is talented and will probably be annoyed that I’ve included her work on my wall as well as in my blog. All of these people teach me something different about art and work and talent and inspiration. I like having them behind me.

I also like having some room on my walls for new inspirations. The thing about inspiration is, it fades. We get used to it, and then we become immune to it. We need a fresh inspiring from time to time. But the new inspirations don’t have to replace the old ones. Instead, those old relics can be polished and brightened and given new meaning as we carry them into the present and build on them for the future.