Dust spots on the filter over the sensor of your digital camera will show up in your photos, and can be a problem to fix. Adobe Lightroom has a straightforward spot removal tool in the develop module, and it works well. But it can be a problem finding the spots to remove. Here’s a nice and easy trick to help find those hard to see dust specks in Lightroom.
In this image we have a snow scene zoomed in to 1:1 to look for dust spots, there is one there but it is not exactly obvious.
So let’s have another look. This time with the Detail Masking selected and holding down the Alt key to view the affected areas of the mask.
Hello, what’s that strange halo shaped mark below the tree branch? That’s right it’s dust!
All you need to do now is click on the spot removal tool (or press “Q” the keyboard shortcut), position the spot removal circle over the dust and click. It should be gone.
Here’s a quick overview of the process I use to remove spots in Lightroom.
- Open the selected image in Develop (Shortcut key “D”).
- Zoom in to 1:1 using the Navigation panel on the left (Shortcut key “Z”). Make sure that 1:1 is selected in the Navigation panel if using the shortcut key, Lightroom uses the last zoom level you used, so if it was set at 1:2 this will be the result. You must be at 1:1 to view the masking.
- Use the Home key on your keyboard to position the zoom at the top left of your image and check for dust.
- Open the Detail panel and click the cursor on the Masking slider, moving it to the right, and hold down “Alt” in Windows (or “Option” for Mac) to see the masking affect. You must have a sharpening amount enabled to see the change, if there is no sharpening set nothing will happen. You can just click on Sharpening to set the default amounts in Lightroom if needed, this will reset the Masking to zero so you will need to adjust the slider.
- Look for dust spots again, you might find something that was not easily visible in the normal zoom view.
- Use the Spot Removal tool to remove the spots if there are any. (Shortcut key “Q”). You can adjust the size of the Spot Removal circle to use a good size to just cover your dust. You can also move the spot circle if it isn’t quite in the correct position. You can also move the sample area circle to choose a better match to clone from.
- Once happy with your dusting move to the next area of your image using the “Pg Dn” key on your keyboard. Note that you will need to move the cursor off the Masking slider to do this, otherwise the “Pg Dn” key will adjust the slider amount instead of moving the page down.
- Repeat as necessary until you have cleaned your image of dust spots.
If you have a number of images with the same framing you can copy the spot removal over to the next shot, saving having to go through the process for each image. To do this right click on the dusted image and select setting / copy settings. This will bring up an option panel where you can select the Spot Removal check box (top right), then press copy. Generally I will select the Check None button first to make sure I’m not copying something else over. Then select the images you want to copy the Spot Removal to, right click and select Develop Settings / Paste Settings. Using this with images that have different framing can have drawbacks, you might find the selected areas are now copying parts of objects over to the Spot Removal. For example a slightly different framing of the snow scene could result in copying twigs or branches over, with disastrous results!