Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spot Removal and LR4 Adjustments

A friend of mine asked me a couple of questions the other day about using the new version of Lightroom 4 (LR4), and since we're thousands of miles and many time zones apart I decided to help via the blog and YouTube. Hopefully some of this may help others too, so here goes!

There are two videos here... the first one talks about Spot Removal. The second talks about using the Adjustment Brush. Both use a couple of photos in the Lightroom library. The idea will be to clean up the spots first on a reference image and then use that to Sync a target. Then we'll continue on the target with brush adjustments.

Both videos are best viewed full screen at 720p HD.

Spot Removal:

The reference photo is nothing more than a shot of sky and clouds taken at f/22 on the same day as the overall shoot. An aperture setting of f/22 literally guarantees than any gunk on the camera sensor will show up in the image. And a sky shot is uncluttered enough to make a good reference. Once cleaned, this photo will become the source to Sync other shots in a set and clean all spots at one time.

Spot removal should always be done while viewing the image at 100% (1:1). You want a full crop view to be sure you see everything. The Spot Removal tool is found in the LR4 Develop Module and is activated by the cursor or by typing the shortcut "Q". You'll see me use the slider bar in the video but I will also change the size of the spot target by using the scroll wheel on my mouse (much easier). Also, when moving around the screen I am holding down the space bar to activate the Hand tool. When I release the space bar the spot removal tool reappears.

To remove spots simply place the spot removal circle over the area to be corrected and left click the mouse. LR4 decides where it's going to pick a replacement area. There was one large smudge in this particular photo that I got rid of by really increasing the size of the removal area. Ideally I might leave this one and correct it in Photoshop. But I cheated here for the sake of time.

At the end of the video I sync the two shots. In Sync settings I remove all selections except for spot removal. then after selecting the base image I select the target. This could be a single image or a whole set of similar photos that likely need the same spots cleaned up. When you open the targeted image in the Develop Module and activate the Spot Removal tool you can see all the spots that were corrected via Sync. This is a big time saver if you have a lot of images to clean up!

Yeah... this was a quick and dirty spot removal job, and I have a lot of spots on my sensor and should send my rig to Nikon for cleaning asap. Duh. Send your other comments to i-could-give-a-rats-caboose.com :)

Adjustment Brush Usage:

Now we'll make a few adjustments of the main image. First, we'll do a little more spot removal on her face. This is optional, and I know some people have wild opinions about it and don't like doing it. That's fine. I won't even do this all the time, but here I think it makes a nicer image and a little bit works. Next, we'll bring the clarity down on her face using the Adjustment brush. Reducing Clarity like this "softens" the look and gives her a bit of "glamor". Again, this is subjective, but it often works very well. And finally we'll bring Shadow detail in her face and hair up a bit. This is like adding fill light, but in a targeted way. We need this here since the image was shot in matrix metering in full sun and the exposure on her face is a bit dark. This targeted adjustment is a perfect fix for that where the old fill would blast light all over the whole image.

The Brush slider activates the same sliders, exposure settings, highlights, shadows, clarity, etc, that you see in the Basic panel, but targets them via the brush. You use the mouse wheel again to size the brush and "paint" the area(s) on the image you want to modify. Once you've completed your work you can always refine the settings with the sliders to get the look you want. The video doesn't show the brush size very well here unfortunately, but you'll see it represented as two circles when you select the brush. The inside circle is the primary area and the distance between it and the outside circle a feather zone.

To finish up I go thru a few of the other Develop Module tabs in order, top down. I will bring the sharpness up a bit, check the Lens profile, and camera profile.

I hope this helps with some of the mystery of these two tools in LR4! If not, shoot me a note. Enjoy!



  1. I can't thank you enough - seriously!! These videos are exactly what I needed...and if I have more questions, may I ask?? You're the best, Dave!

  2. That's very informative Dave, I need to play with my P/S some.