Tutorial: Remove unwanted spots in photos…

Lightroom is not like Photoshop but it’s a great tool if you just want to make small retouching of your photos. A perfect use for this is when you want to remove spots or small things in your photos that might disturb the eye. One common thing to do in the digital world is to remove “dust spots”. These spots often become visible if you change lenses on your camera in a non-clean environment. They get trapped in your camera house and after that, all your photos will have the spots on them.

Spot removal

These trapped particles are very small to the eye in a natural environment but in your camera they get blown up when processing your photos. So if you see a repeated pattern of spots in your photos from a vacation etc. you probably have some dust in your camera. Ok, enough talking about the dust now. Let me instead show you how you can remove these spots easily in Lightroom.

  1. Select the photo you want to retouch
  2. Open the develop mode (press D)
  3. Click on the spot removal tool
  4. Change the size of the circle (area) using a scroll-wheel on your mouse or the slider in the control panel. The circle should be just about the size of the spot you wish to remove.
  5. Place your cursor (circle) over the spot you wish to remove and press your mouse.
  6. A new circle with the same size will appear next to your removed spot. This circles (no.2) position has been chosen by Lightroom as the best/recommended choice as clone source. If you’re not satisfied with the clone source you can easily move the circle to a new position. If you need to resize the circle to fit your area, simply place your cursor on it until you see two arrows, then press and drag to resize.
  7. To see the result without the circles disturbing, press the spot removal tool again. If you’re not satisfied with the result, try changing the opacity of your spots or the size of the circles.

I’ve made a quick and dirty screencast to show you how to quickly remove spots in photos. I suggest you click on the link below the movie to be able to see it in high quality.

Tutorial: How to remove spots in photos with Lightroom 2 from Pierre on Vimeo.


If you are a Lightroom lover like myself you probably going to adore this place. It's the paradise for all people who are looking for Lightroom presets. Make sure you subscribe to my posts to be first with the latest contributions. I wish you a very pleasant stay. Regards, Pierre

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  1. Hi, nice post.
    Back in the good old days of 1.4.1 one could create a new preset, ‘select all’ and this would save the spot/clone points in the preset [one could then remove all the non-clone data out of the preset editing it in Notepad etc];

    2.1 has REMOVED this functionality, annoyingly. For me this makes the heal tool useless – if I’ve 100 shots and just 5 dust spots per image (all in the exact same place) it will take hours to clone them all out. Using a preset it takes 5 seconds for the whole lot.

    Any ideas of a work around for 2.1?

  2. David,
    I’m glad to be able to help you when I say, it’s possible to achieve this functionality in a different way in LR 2. Apply your spot removals and then select all of your images you want to “heal”. Then use the “Sync…”-button (found when in Develop mode). A dialog is opened, be sure to activate the Spot removal adjustment checkbox.

  3. Pierre,
    Thanks for that. This is fine if I keep an original image around with my spot healing on for each setting (800, 3200 iso for hot pixels, and a dust one) but I really don’t see why LR 2 changed this functionality from being available in presets to not – it’s so much more awkward this way, though I do appreciate your help on this!

    I usually apply a preset on import for high iso shots to wipe out my hot pixels but can’t do this any more :(

  4. David,
    I understand the dilemma and hope the Adobe team will come up with a solution to this soon. Strange they don’t let us save the “Spot removal” setting in a preset. :-/

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