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Dust, Mold, and Texture Removal

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In this sample chapter from Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, 4th Edition, dive into the feather-dusting tools in Photoshop to learn how to clean digital camera files, work with the Clone Stamp, and more.

This chapter is from the book

Dust—it is everywhere. It collects on our shelves, under beds, in computers, and on computer screens. And unfortunately, it often becomes a part of our photographs, as dust gets into our digital cameras and hangs tight on prints and film emulsions. Dust has long plagued photographers working in the wet darkroom, and sadly it still torments us in the digital darkroom.

Mold is another common reason for damage and spots on old prints, which were often made with gelatin (a natural protein derived from animals) and vegetable dyes, ideal food for hungry mold. To add insult to injury, cracks, tears, dirty fingerprints, careless spills, and less than optimal handling or storage will wreak havoc on your photographic memories.

In this chapter we will break out the cleaning equipment and address

  • Working nondestructively

  • Cleaning digital camera files

  • Filters and channel extraction for dust removal and reduction

  • Working with the Clone Stamp tools and healing tools

  • Reducing silvering, moiré, and textures

So let’s get down to basics and explore the digital feather-dusting tools of Photoshop.

Taking in the Big Picture

Before you grab the Clone Stamp tool you need to accurately see where the dust or spot problems are. Depending on the file size and your monitor resolution, you may not be able to view the file accurately. When an image is first opened in Photoshop, the view can be very deceptive. You will see the entire image, and in most cases, the image is zoomed out to a level not suitable for retouching.

To clean up the nitty-gritty details, you need to see the nitty-gritty details. Be prepared to zoom in to the image and work at pixel level, and inspect the image at 100% or even 200% if you are working on a high-resolution or Retina display. Otherwise, defects may not be visible, because the screen is displaying an abbreviated version of the file.

logo.jpg ch5_eatingapple.jpg

Open the eating-apple image, look at the document tab, and notice the percentage at which the image is displayed. At first glance, the image may look fine (FIGURE 5.1). But zoom in to 100% and use the Hand tool to move around within the document window. Note the abundance of specks throughout the image that were not visible when the image was first opened. This is why it is very important to inspect the image at 100%, as anything visible at this view could possibly be seen in print.


FIGURE 5.1 At first glance this image appears to be fine; upon closer examination, dust is revealed.

© Eef Jansen

When you’re zoomed in on an image, and especially one that is particularly high resolution, it can be easy to lose your bearings. This is where the Navigator panel (Window > Navigator) can be handy. This panel, when enlarged by dragging out any corner beyond its default size, can also be used as a second view of the image (FIGURE 5.2). The view continuously updates to show changes made, so progress and editing location can be easily monitored. Dragging the red box (the proxy preview area) in the Navigator panel will reposition the area being worked on. This can be particularly useful when you need to check the entire image before making a print or submitting to a client.


FIGURE 5.2 The Navigator panel, enlarged beyond its normal size, is a helpful reference when working on a small part of an image.

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