How to Remove Image Imperfections Using Adobe Lightroom

How To 6 min
Watch how to remove dust spots and imperfections in a photograph using Adobe Lightroom Classic.

Julieanne Kost, Principal Evangelist for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, demonstrates how to remove spots and distracting elements from images using Adobe Lightroom Classic's clone and heal tools. Cloning gives an exact match while healing gives you a blending option. Spots on images are often caused by dust on sensors on your camera. Learning how to remove dust spots is vital because spots can distract from the message the image is intended to convey. It is crucial to correct images within the constraints of DoD ethics policies.

  1. Open an image in Adobe Lightroom Classic.
  2. To select the Spot Removal tool, press the “Q” key or select it from the control panel.
  3. Select Brush Type to "Clone" or "Heal."

There are two ways to remove a spot or imperfection, either by cloning or healing. Cloning gives an exact match while healing gives you a blending option.

To correct a spot by cloning:

  1. Set Brush type to "Clone."
  2. Find a spot to correct using “Command +” on Mac or “CTRL +” on Windows to zoom the image.
  3. To remove the spot, click directly over it. Lightroom automatically selects a good spot to clone, creating an exact duplicate.

To make the correction by healing:

  1. Set the Brush type to "Heal."
  2. Find a spot to correct.
  3. Click directly over it. Lightroom automatically selects a good spot to use to blend to cover the imperfection.

  1. Select the Visualize Spots Tool at the bottom of the page. In this mode, Lightroom gives a black and white version of the image to reveal spots.
  2. If needed, adjust size of brush and feather to remove spots.
  3. Click on each spot to have Lightroom automatically remove the spot.
  4. To correct additional spots, hold the space bar down and move the hand tool to another area of the image.
  5. Press the "A" key to toggle off the Visualize Spots Tool.

  1. To remove a distracting element, click and drag over the entire element you want removed.
  2. When you release the cursor, Lightroom will automatically choose a selection source to make the correction.
  3. Press the "H" key to remove the outline to see the selection source and correction more clearly.
  4. If you need to make adjustments to Lightroom's selection source, press the "H" key.
  5. Relocate the selection source to another area until you get a better alignment.

There are a number of shortcuts you can use to make removing spots much easier. These shortcuts include:

  • Backslash Key - Press the "\" key to have Lightroom automatically select a new source for either the existing circle spot or the brush spot you created.
  • Feather Slider in Spot Edit Dialog Menu - Use to adjust the softness of the feather edge.
  • Opacity Slider in Spot Edit Dialog Menu - Use if you don't want to remove an element completely but instead dim it or hide it.
  • Heal a Straight Line/Telephone Wire - Lightroom will automatically heal a straight line across an image:
  1. Click on one end of the straight line.
  2. Hold down Shift key.
  3. Click on the other end, then Lightroom will automatically heal the line across the image.

Adobe product screen shots reprinted with permission from Adobe Inc.

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