Quickly Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom - Digital Darkroom Academy

Quickly Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom

Ever had spots show up on your photos? Those are sensor dust. It happens because we’re too lazy to get our sensor cleaned; and now all our photos will have these spots show up on them. The best thing, of course is to have a clean sensor and avoid this problem entirely. But, removing them in Lightroom is not all that difficult (on most photos). I take you through the process (and share a hidden trick) in this video below about how to quickly remove sensor dust in Lightroom. If you like to read, you can continue under the video.

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The spots can be easily removed using the Spot Removal Tool. You can find the tool right under the histogram on the right. It’s the second tool in that bar. You can also enter it using it’s shortcut, which is the Q key.

Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom with Spot Removal Tool

How this tool works is pretty simple. I’ll click on one of the spots and Lightroom will sample another area from nearby, most likely a cleaner area, and replicate it to where I clicked. If I don’t like the area that Lightroom picked, I can move it around and now it’ll sample from the area that I have chosen.

Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom
Just click and it’ll sample a clean area.

If the spot I want to clean is bigger or smaller, I can decrease or increase brush size, using the square bracket keys. Left bracket ([) make it smaller. Right bracket ( ) will make it bigger.

Sometimes what I want to clean is not a spot. Maybe it’s a wire, or a branch of a tree. In that case, I can also click-and-drag. And now, Lightroom will sample an area of the same shape that I drew with the brush.

using spot removal tool in lightroom
You can also click and drag to draw out an organic shape using the Spot Removal Brush

So, that kinda explains the basics of the tool. There is obviously more to the tool that I discuss in my course The Complete Lightroom CC Course.

Now, some spots are clearly visible and I can get them with my brush right away. But there are others that you can’t see all that well right away. But if I zoom in, they are there. Very light. They may not be all that visible on the regular screen size, but if the photo has to be printed really large or viewed on a large screen, these will become visible. So, how do I make sure I get all of them?

Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom
Some spots are prominent. Some spots are light.

Now, this is something not a lot of people know about, but there is a tool where Lightroom helps you figure out exactly where the spots are. In the toolbar at the bottom, you’ll see a Visualize Spots checkbox.

Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom
Switch the Visualize Spots checkbox on in the toolbar at the bottom to see the spots better

Turn it on, and Lightroom will change the photo to black/white version, where you’re just seeing everything in either black or white. This view will show you the spots more clearly, even the ones that weren’t all the visible in the regular view. If you’re still not seeing them, even after switching “Visualize Spots” on, the slider right next to the checkbox may be on a lower value. Increase it to a higher value and you’ll be able to see the spots clearly.

Remove Sensor Dust in Lightroom
The Visualize Spots view allows you to see the spots more clearly

Now that you see your spots much more clearly, you can get rid of them one by one with the Spot Removal tool. Once you’re done, you can switch the Visualize Spots checkbox off and you’ll be back to your regular view. You will notice that you’ve managed to get it a lot cleaner than you would have in the regular view.

As I end, let me also give you a word of warning. These spots will be easily removed on solid color backgrounds and simple textures, but it will be quiet difficult to get them out if they are on a busy background. This is where Lightroom has a limitation. In that case, you are better off working in Photoshop where the Content Aware tools are much more powerful.

Shajee Aijazi

Shajee Aijazi is the founder of Digital Darkroom Academy. He helps people speed up their post-processing workflow and organize their photos in a way that they don't have to waste time managing it and they can focus on creating great looking images.

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