Using the Spot Remove tool in Lightroom for quick image retouching.

by George Mann

I was working on an article for my Lightroom eBook this week on dust spot removal and could not find any images in my Lightroom Library that had any dust spots. Strange as it may seem in the last couple of years of using the Nikon D200, D70 and D40 plus the permanently sealed CP8800, I have not experienced any sensor dust problems. Partly I assume because I tend to use the same lens for an entire day (a short zoom on one camera and a long zoom on another camera) and if I do have to change lenses I am very careful.

So I figured what the heck, why not use the Spot Remove tool to clean up some real world spots I want to remove on a picture. To be honest I did not expect the tool to be very good for this function. To my surprise though it actually worked fairly well. Not as good as the clone and heal tools in Photoshop CS3 but good enough for a slide show or quick presentation.

The Remove Spot tool is actually two tools; one a cloning tool and the other a healing tool. The difference between the cloning and healing tools is that the cloning tool clones the pixels from one area to another and the healing tool uses the pixels surrounding the area being healed to make a better blend. Since the blending process may distort an edge or straight line near the area being healed it is best to use the cloning tool when removing a spot close to an edge and the healing tool the rest of the time.


This is a cropped in section of the original image (zoomed in 1:1) of water barrels on a Thai fishing boat. The water barrels are painted blue and the orange colored plastic is showing through from wear, I will attempt to repair some of the scratches in the blue paint.


The pink circle is the area being healed, the white circle is the area the pixels are being copied from. By dragging on the white circle (with the mouse) it can be moved to any location and a white line will join the two circles, release the mouse and the action will take place. At any time you can click the Clear button to reverse the action. The size of the area affected can be adjusted by dragging on the edge of either circle.


All the circles on this image represent spots that have been removed. Since this is a non-destructive process, the original RAW image is never changed and all edits can be cleared or reset at any time to start over or go for a different result. To change the image permanently it has to be exported in a different format such as jpeg, PSD or tiff.


The same image as the last one above but with the Remove Spots Tool turned off (if I turned the Remove Spots Tool back on, all the circles would return). More work could be done but this version is obviously a lot cleaner than the original image.


2007-06-22 06:57:40
"The size of the area affected can be adjusted by dragging on the edge of either circle."

It's also possible to change the brush size on the fly using the scrollwheel. I've also noticed that if you drag the white circle, the pink circle reflects the contents of this white one. This is especially useful if you want to fix a blemish that goes over an edge and you need to find a matching edge.

2007-06-24 13:25:48
maybe you don't have any dust because you never shoot smaller than f/11