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Fixing Blemishes in Adobe Lightroom

Monday, July 13th, 2009 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography
 
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Are there blemishes on your pictures? Or spots caused by dust on your camera’s sensor? No need to rush to Photoshop. The work can often be done in Lightroom – a very convenient software that has a Clone and a Heal tool available for fixing blemishes and removing problems such as spots caused by dust.

To see how to use these tools in Lightroom, start by selecting an image to fix and select the Lightroom Develop module. Then follow these steps.

First, you find the Spot Removal tool which can be found below the Histogram, located to the immediate right of the Crop tool. Or you can simply press the shortcut key N to activate it.

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If you wish to use the brush options, all you have to do is choose the Clone or Heal option. The clone option is similar to the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop which is commonly used for fixing an image. To use this tool, you first have to select the portion of the image that requires a fix and then select the replacement portion. Lightroom also enables you to choose the size of the brush and the opacity. These two options replace one area of the image with another portion without making blending the two portions.

The heal tool in Lightroom, first samples the area you wish to fix and then it blends it with the replacement area in such a way that the fix is not apparent. After that, you may select the Clone or Heal options in order to adjust the size of the image. This can be easily achieved by using the slider or which appear as square brackets. However, note that your brush size is large enough to cover the area that requires a fix.

To use these tools, you may click on the area to fix and then allow Lightroom to pick the source image data. You may also click on the part of the image that requires the fix and then continue to hold the left mouse button as you drag to locate a usable area for the fix. And that’s not all; you will also be able to preview the fix as Lightroom will assist you in determining the best part of the image to use. It is advisable that you let go off the left mouse button only when you’re satisfied with your selection, and when you have it right where you want it to be.

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After you have applied the fix, you will notice two circles on your image. The circles will appear when you hold the Spot Removal Tool over the image. The circle with the thickest edge is usually the selected arc, while the circle with the + symbol on the inside defines the area you wish to fix. If you aren’t completely satisfied with the fix you’ve made, then you can click inside either of the circles and then drag the selected circle to a different position.

You can even select a circle and then position your mouse over its edge till it turns into a double headed arrow after which you drag it for resizing. Furthermore, you can even change a fix applied by using the Heal option to a Clone fix or vice versa. To do this, you either select the two circular marker and click Heal or you may opt for the Clone in the Develop tools panel to change the fix type. This, in fact, allows you to experiment with the image or rather the fix, in order to find the best results.

In the given example, the Heal tool worked wonders on Beyonce’s nose. And the Clone tool evidently worked marvelously along the top edge of the nose where the fix markers littered part of the nose and part of the background behind as well.


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If you wish to view the image without the circular markers, all you need to do is press H. If you happen to press the H button again, you will see the circular markers again.

For viewing the Before or After results so as to reflect only the effect of the application of the Spot Removal Tool, you need to click the On/Off switch in the Spot Removal tool area on the Develop panel. This option is preferable than the backslash key, which often toggles on/off all the fixes you would have made to the image and not just the most recent one. If you encounter problems such as sensor dust that may appear in the same position in a series of images, you’ll admire the ability to copy the Spot Removal tool fix from one image to many others. If you right-click the fixed image, and then choose Settings from the Copy Settings dialog you will enable the Spot Removal checkbox to disable all the other options that you may not wish to copy.

Finally, all you need to do is click Copy to copy the effect and then paste it onto the other images that have the same problem. Though this may not be the ideal fix for all of them, it will however give you a head start on fixing to a certain extent.

~Zahid Javali

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