Using the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom

How to use the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom

Pesky little dust spots, we can get them all the time if we forget to clean our camera sensors often. I always hate it when I have a great series of images from a wedding with a bright blue sky filled with a few dust spots. Thankfully Lightroom has a spot removal tool that is quick and easy to use to clone out any of these dust spots. Today i’ll cover a quick review of this tool and how to use it.

You will find the spot removal tool in the develop module in lightroom right under the histogram.
spot removal lightroom

Once you click on the tool icon a new menu will appear below which gives you a few options. The tool is pretty straightforward so there are just a few decisions to make. First you will choose the type of brush from 2 options:

Clone – This simply applies the area of the photo you are sampling to the area that you selected so just copying over part of your image to another.

Heal – This is what I use more often for fixing dust spots. It will match the texture, lighting, and shading of the area you are sampling to the selected area.

You can adjust the size of the area with the slider and also the opacity. I usually don’t worry too much about the size as you can change that after you make your selection and will leave the opacity at 100%.

spot removal lightroom2

Once you have everything set just click on your spot. Lightroom will clone a sample area that is near the spot that you clicked. You can always tell which circle is the one that is being cloned or healed since it will have a + in the middle of the circle.

spot removal lightroom3

Now you can fine tune the selection a few different ways:

  • To adjust the size of the selection simply move your mouse over to the edge of the selection circle and you will see the cursor change to a <|> symbol. Now just drag the circle to be larger or smaller.
  • You can also adjust the selection size by using the bracket keys [ and ].
  • You can move the circle that is from the sample area by simply moving your mouse to the center of that circle. The cursor will change to a hand and you can start to move it around the screen to sample from another area of the image.
  • If you want to hide the circles to get a better view of the image just click the H key.
  • To delete a spot just click once on the circle and hit the delete key on your keyboard. If you have multiple selections you can remove them all by clicking on the Reset button in the Spot Edit menu.
  • If you have more spots to remove on the image just repeat the steps above with as many dust spots as you have. When you have multiple selections active and want to edit a specific one just click on one of the circles and then you will be able to edit that specific selection.

    Extra tip for fixing spots in multiple photos

    Usually if you have some dust on your sensor it will be on all of your photos. Normally you would think this is a bad thing but it can be really easily fixed. Since the dust is on the same spot on your sensor the images will have the spots in the very same location. All you have to do is click on the first photo from the thumbnail view at the bottom of the develop module and then hold down the Control key on the keyboard and select the last photo in the series you need to fix. This will select all of the files and give you a Sync… button at the bottom right.

    Click on this to open up the Sync settings and make sure that the Spot Removal checkbox is marked. This will update all images with the same spot removal settings. When you do this though I do recommend that you do a check on all of the images that were fixed. Sometimes you subject moves from frame to frame and I have had many times where the sample area is sky in one photo but in the next its part of the brides head. Instead of sky replacing the dust spot the bides head is copied. You might think it looks really artistic but the bride might not agree.

    That’s it! Quick and easy to fix spots in our images in Lightroom.

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    Author: Mark

    Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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