Tip for Lightroom's Remove Spots tool

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In my review of Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom, I talked briefly about the Remove Spots tool (I also talked about it in a bit more detail in my first look ), which is a very powerful way for you to apply minor touch-ups to an image. One of the things that I discovered during the review process was the fact that, if your mouse had a scroll wheel (or ball, as in the case of Apple’s Mighty Mouse), you could change the size of the spot on the fly as you were working on an image.

This week, I have been scanning a bunch of Polaroids, and, no matter how hard I try, I still get a fair amount of dust spots on my pictures. If you’re using the Remove Spots tool (in either Clone or Heal mode), it can get a bit cluttered and hard to see if there are a lot of spots on the screen. However, if you hold down the ‘H’ key as you spot your image, all of the spots are hidden. You can even adjust an existing spot with this method: the best way to do it is to put your mouse over the spot you want to adjust (so you know where it is), and then press the ‘H’ key to hide the spots. It’s a small tip, but it has helped me out a bunch this week.

I made a small QuickTime movie clip to demonstrate. In the first section, I’m using the Remove Spots tool in Heal mode, sizing the brush to match the dust speck that I want to remove, and then moving the sampled spot to align the fixed spot a bit better. Subsequently, I’m hiding the spots and applying the tool, moving the sampled area where it makes sense.

Overall, I’ve found the Remove Spots tool to be pretty good, but it won’t replace the Healing Brush, the Clone tool or the Dust & Scratches filter in Photoshop. Lightroom’s tool is really designed for intermittent spotting, and it’s one of the reasons that people who use Lightroom (or Apple’s Aperture ) as their primary image editor and management program will still want to have a more full-featured application like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements kicking around in their toolbox.

If you’re looking for deeper dives into Lightroom, O’Reilly’s Inside Lightroom site has a good selection of tips and tricks, including Mikkel Aaland’s great tip for creating a QuickTime-based slide show with Lightroom (the Slideshow module is the weakest of the five modules, or, alternatively, the one “with the most potential”).

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