Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Workflow Technique #036

Advanced Dust Healing Technique

note by Uwe Steinmueller

Last updated 5/7/2006

Dust spots on the sensor are the one of the darkest sides of digital SLRs. We use now for a long time the Healing Brush in PS (since version 7) to remove dust spots pretty fast (we describe the use in our handbook). But spotting the dust spots can be tricky. A recent case let us look for some nice technique.

Original sky (100% magnification)

You see a few dust spots, right? No wrong there are lots (photo taken at F/13)! Why bother if you hardly can see them.

1. They show easily in prints

2. And also if you do some image manipulation like this one (using an IR filter simulation)

Dust after use of a strong effect filter

To findt all these dust spots more easily just put a temporary curves adjustment layer on top of the layer you want to clean with a curve like this:

Temporary Curve

Now you can see all the spots way more easily and start your cleaning/healing.

Curve makes dust more visible

After your work is done just discard the curves layer.

Improved Dust Removal with Photoshop CS2 "Spot Healing Brush"

Photoshop CS2 introduced the new Spot Healing Brush. The Spot Healing Brush does not need a source area. It takes all the information to heal a spot from the area near the brush itself.

Dust spot with Healing Spot Brush (100% magnification)

We use a brush that just covers the dust spot and click. Voila the dust spot is gone:

Fixed dust spot

We now use 95% of the time the new Spot Healing Brush and it speeds up our retouching work quite a bit.

Revised technique

We recently realized that we often found additional dust spots when we converted the images to B&W. This is why we now use the following technique.

Crop with dust spot

Above the layer we spot we place two helper layers

1. Levels layer to darken the bight content:

Levels layer to better show dust spots

Which will result in images like this:

View for dust spotting

Now select the layer you want to correct and use the Spot Healing Brush. Once you have done your work just remove or disable these helper layers.



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