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Cloning and Healing in Lightroom

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NAPP instructor Dave Cross explains how to use Lightroom’s Cloning and Healing tools to fix blemishes across multiple photos.
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Cloning and Healing in Lightroom

(This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Photoshop User magazine.)

Although not as advanced as the cloning and healing tools in Photoshop, Lightroom has a pretty slick way of dealing with dust and other blemishes. The Remove Spots tool particularly shines in cases where the dust spot appears in the same place in every photo, for example when you have a problem with sensor dust. This can be handled automatically using the Synchronize command.

In this studio shoot, there are a couple of noticeable dust spots that can be seen in exactly the same position on every photo. (Note that what appears to be another dust spot is actually a piece of tape on the floor, so it's not in the same position in each photo. This would have to be fixed manually, on a photo-by-photo basis).

First, we'll take a look at how the Remove Spots tool works and then we'll see how to apply the same "fix" to a series of photos.

Step One:

In Develop mode, click on the Remove Spots Tool (or press N). Click on either the Clone or Heal option. (Hint: Most of the time the Heal function will be the best choice, so it's probably best to start with that—see "Healing vs. Cloning" for more details).

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Step Two:

Zoom in on the area you want to fix, and position the cursor over the problem (spot). Ideally, the cursor size should be slightly larger than the spot, and you can change the brush size either by using the slider under Cursor Size, or by pressing the bracket keys: Right bracket to make the brush bigger, left bracket to make the brush size smaller.

Step Three:

There are a number of ways to use this tool but the simplest seems to be the following: Click and hold the mouse on top of the spot and then drag to the pixels you want to use to fix the problem.

As you drag the mouse, a second circle will appear to indicate the area that will "cover up" the problem—while the original circle (over the spot) will "preview" the results (the healing circle will have an arrow pointing to the problem area). Once you find the best position for the healing circle, let go of the mouse button to complete the process. This remains a "live" effect, so you can drag the healing circle to a new location at any time.

Step Four:

To apply the spot removal to the remainder of your photos, select them all using the filmstrip. Then press the Synch button. In the dialog that appears, first click the Check None button (assuming you don't want any other settings to be applied), and then check the Spot Removal box. Click the Synchronize button to apply the spot removal to all of the selected photos.

As you look through all of the photos, you may find some cases where the healing spot is not in a good location. In this example, the dancer's finger happens to appear in the spot that was chosen as our healing spot. To fix this problem, it's a simple matter of going to that photo and clicking and dragging the healing circle to a different location (the Remove Spots tool must be active in order to see the healing circles).

If at any time you want to see what your photo looked like before you used the Remove Spots tool, press the backslash key (\) to see a before and after view. If you wish to remove the effects of the Remove Spots tool, click the Reset button.

With its simplicity, the fact that it's a live effect and given its ability to apply a repair job to multiple images, the Remove Spots tool provides a very effective way to deal with dust spots on your images.

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