Seeing Spots

One problem that I frequently have is that my lens or sensor gets a little dirty. This is one of the hazards of landscape photography. Often the specs or spots are small and out of focus and not noticeable. But shooting stopped down can increase the focus depth in your image and really bring out the dust and spots on your gear. I find that this is often the most evident in the sky as it is very uniform in color and imperfections really stand out.

Take the following image (click to open in a separate tab). Even looking at it without zooming in, you can see a few spots in the cloudless parts of the sky. If you zoom in, you can find plenty of spots. This is mostly due to a dirty camera sensor that I need to have cleaned and shooting this image at f/16.

Before-Spot-Removal

So, what can I do about spots on my image from sensor dust or a dirty lens? Well, you can correct spots in Lightroom pretty easily by selecting them with the Spot Removal tool. You put the circular tool over the spot and it selects a nearby portion of the image to clone to replace the spot. The screen capture below shows a zoomed in portion of the sky with the spots. You can easily see a few of the spots.

Lightroom-Spots-Before

But, it can be a bit difficult to go through the image and make sure that you have every spot, so there is a neat feature of this tool that you can use that makes spot finding easier. When you select the spot removal tool, there is a checkbox at the bottom that allows you to select “Visualize Spots” with a slider next to it. This uses extreme contrast to make all of the spots very visible. See the screen capture below with an embarrassing number of spots in this portion of the sky.

Lightroom-3

Now I can quickly go around and select all of these spots and correct them and pan across the image and get all of the uglier spots. See the image below that shows the screen capture after I have selected all of the spots for removal.

Lightroom-4

And below is what it looks like after I did the spot removal. No more spots.

Lightroom-Spots-After

And below is the same image after spot removal. You can click it to open it in another tab and zoom in if you like.

Post-Spot-Removal

One important point is that this works a lot better if you have a clean, smudge-free monitor as it can get difficult telling which is what. Also, this image was a little difficult with the clouds in the sky, but the Visualize Spots feature made this much easier.

Now, I think that it’s about time for me to get my camera sensor cleaned. Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “Seeing Spots

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