Have you ever wondered how to use the spot removal tool in Lightroom? Although we have covered it in depth in our Workflow and Post-Processing course, I thought it would be a good idea to share some detail about the specifics of the spot removal tool in a video. If you are just starting out in Lightroom, this will be a good introduction on how to use the spot removal tool, which keyboard shortcuts to use to access it and how to do basic customizations to make the tool fit your needs.
Spot Removal Tool
As you can see in the video, the spot removal tool is very useful for removing small objects from an image, such as blemishes, sensor dust spots and stray hairs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work nearly as well as the healing brush in Photoshop, but for small jobs where it’s not worth it to leave Lightroom, it gets the job done. Watch this video to see exactly how it works:
As you saw, the spot removal tool requires you to choose an area to repair. It then samples a nearby area and either clones it or uses it for reference to heal the selected area. Personally, I always recommend using the heal method, as cloning rarely gives as good of results. You are also able to adjust the feather and opacity of the spot removal, giving you more control over how your final results look. You can access the spot removal tool by locating it underneath the histogram in the develop module or pressing “Q” on your keyboard.
As someone who primarily photographs weddings, I find myself using the spot removal tool the most often on people. I use it to remove skin blemishes, crumbs or lint on clothing, or stray hairs. I also tend to use it to remove distracting objects such as branches or trash from my images.
The spot removal tool is also incredibly useful for landscape photographers. It quickly and easily removes sensor dust from images. It can also be used to remove simple yet distracting elements of a landscape image. For more complex removal jobs, I’d still suggest using Photoshop.
Spot Visualization Tool
The spot removal tool also includes a spot visualization tool. This allows you to see spots in your image that you might have missed without it. It’s especially useful for tracking down spots created by sensor dust. Here’s a video of the spot visualization tool in action:
As you can see, by simply checking a box the entire image transforms, allowing you to more easily see sensor dust spots. You can always use the slider to adjust the sensitivity if you don’t initially see any spots. If you see too many spots, try decreasing the sensitivity or zooming in to an area to see how many spots are actually there. Many times, the spot visualization tool will show more spots than are actually in your image.
Of course, you should not rely solely on the spot visualization tool to find spots in your images. Many spots can be hidden in objects like clouds. These are very difficult to see with the spot visualization tool, yet easy to see when looking at the normal image. Spot removal works the same regardless of whether you use the spot visualization tool or not.
Since Lightroom is a non-destructive post-processing software package, all adjustments to images are added as invisible “layers” and each adjustment is recorded in the history tab. This means that tools like the spot healing tool can slow down your editing when heavily used. Out of all of the different tools in Lightroom, the spot healing tool tends to have the biggest impact on system performance. For that reason, we recommend that you apply spot healing after all other adjustments are made, since it is known to dramatically slow down editing in Lightroom.
We hope you have enjoyed our video on how to use the spot removal tool in Lightroom. Please note that Nasim and I are starting new series of YouTube videos that will cover a lot of different topics. I will be starting out with Lightroom basics as I have done above and eventually cover more complex editing, while Nasim is planning to post the process of editing of his images in both Lightroom and Photoshop, which will be much more advanced in comparison. Please let us know if there are any videos you’d like to see us make!
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