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Removing spots and blemishes from your photos

By June 20, 2016 Photography No Comments

Many of the spots you see on digital photographs are caused by dust on the image sensor. This primarily affects DSLRs, and occurs when dust enters the camera body—when a lens is being changed for example—and settles on the sensor’s surface.


Fortunately, such spots are only really noticeable in areas of at colour, such as blue skies. Getting rid of most spots is quick and easy, although with others, you may have to work a bit harder to remove them.

Simple spot editing

1. Select the dust spot
Select the Spot Removal tool or Retouch brush Check that the tool is in Heal mode. Adjust the size of the tool or brush so that it fits neatly over the dust spot. There are usually keys you can use to adjust the brush size—it’s quicker and more accurate than using the slider.

2. Sample a separate area
With the tool fitting neatly over the dust spot simply click the mouse. The Raw processor will automatically choose a sample area (usually adjacent to the target area) that it uses to blend with the pixels from the target area, so removing the spot.

3. A clear sky again

In a matter of moments, the ugly dust spot has disappeared, and we’re ready to move on to the next problem area.

Trickier edges

1. Trying Heal mode
Here, the dust spot is located close to a dark edge of the kite. Let’s see what happens if we use Spot Removal or Retouch brush in Heal mode, and simply click the mouse button.

2. Easy auto selection
As before, the Raw processor automatically selects a sample area to blend with the target area.

3. Not the desired result
However, here the result is unsatisfactory. First, because the sample circle hasn’t aligned with the target circle. Second, because in Heal mode the Removal tool uses pixels from the edge of the target circle when blending with the sample.

Try cloning

1. Clone mode
Where the spot is near an edge, change to Clone mode, in which the Spot Removal tool doesn’t attempt to blend the surrounding pixels. This provides a more clearly defined blending edge. Here, we’ve selected the sample and dragged it away from the kite to a cleaner position.

2. Better
Moving the sample area to a more appropriate position has resulted in a better alignment, while the Clone mode creates a cleaner result.

For portraits

The Spot Removal tool or Retouch brush, when in Heal mode, is an ideal way to remove skin and other blemishes.

Unlock the full potential of each and every image with reliable post-production techniques that will become a fundamental part of your photography. Using easily followed, step-by-step instructions, Michael Freeman demystifies the complexities of today’s high-powered editing programs to provide you with effective digital workflows tailored to your particular photographic style, and using whichever editing programs you are most comfortable with.

Photo School Composition, Michael Freeman and Steve LuckPhoto School: Digital Editing
Michael Freeman and Steve Luck

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