Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lightroom 3 Spot Removal

In last week's post "Attack of the Dreaded Sensor Dust Bunnies!", we discussed sensor dust, how it appears on your images and provided some advice on tools and resources to rid your sensor of the little monsters.  That's all well and good, but what do you do with the 400 images you took when the sensor was dirty?  Enter Lightroom and the magic of "spot removal".

The Enemy

Here's another image peppered with sensor dust.  As mentioned last week, the dust likes to reveal itself at higher f-stops.  This image was taken at 18mm, ISO 100, f/22 for 0.6 seconds.  Time to lose the spots.

The Spot Removal Panel
Inside the Lightroom Develop Module, you can access the spot removal tool by clicking the spot removal icon (see red arrow) or pressing the shortcut key "Q". Once selected your cursor will turn into a cross-hairs icon and we're just a click away from "dust bunny space invaders".

Here's the battle plan:
  1. Zoom in to 100% (1:1)
  2. Position the cross-hairs over a spot.
  3. Adjust the brush size so your cursor just encompasses the dust spot.  You can use the scroll wheel on your mouse, the slider in the Spot Removal Panel or the bracket keys on your keyboard to adjust the brush size.  Using a brush that is too big can result in unnatural looking areas in your image.
  4. With the brush size adjusted, click on the dust spot. You will see a circle with a "+" symbol appear around the spot and another circle near the first.  This second circle is the area being "cloned" over the top of the dust.
  5. Generally, Lightroom is pretty good at selecting an appropriate area to clone over the spot.  If, however, you need to reposition the location of the cloning circle, simply place your mouse over the circle until it turns into a hand icon. Click and drag the circle to a more appropriate cloning area on the image.  You can also re-size the circles to refine your spot removal.  To remove a spot removal, just right click on the circle with the "+" symbol and select delete.
  6. Repeat steps 2 - 5 for each spot.  You can hold down the space bar to drag the image around your screen to make the other dust spots visible in your viewing area.  When finished, click the "Done" button in the lower right of your image.  If you find you need to make more revisions, just select the spot removal tool again and continue.
The Finished Product

In this before/after image you can see the spots have "magically" disappeared.  While Lightroom makes quick work of dust spots I've found it to be an iterative process.  Just when you thought you got them all, you'll find another one.  The better option is to obviously not have the dust spots in the first place, but in the event that you do, know that Lightroom has you covered.
Until next week, keep click'n.


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