When you take a photo, if the lens or camera sensor isn’t completely clean, you’ll probably see dust spots in your image. They’re especially noticeable if you’ve shot something that’s a single flat area of color, for example, the sky in a landscape.

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If you’re using Photoshop or GIMP, you can remove dust spots just like you would any other blemish. If, however, you’re using Lightroom, the process is a little different.

In the shot below from Tony Alter, for example, there are about a dozen really bad dust spots. They’re either from dust on the front of the lens or the camera’s sensor.

This is what they look like close up:

Thankfully, Lightroom has a dedicated tool to get rid of spots like this. Navigate to the image you’re editing in Lightroom and head to the Develop module.

Select the Spot Removal tool from the Tools menu. The keyboard shortcut is Q.

For Dust Spots, you want the Spot Removal tool set to Heal, with an Opacity and Feather of 100. Adjust the Size so the tool tip covers each spot you’re removing. You can resize it with the slider or by using the [ and ] keys.

Lightroom has a handy tool to help you find dust spots. In the options underneath the image, check Visualise Spots. Lightroom will display all the edges in the image.

Play around with the slider until the spots are visible.

To make things easier on yourself, zoom in to the image by pressing Control-+ (Command-+ if you’re on a Mac). You can pan about by holding down the Spacebar and dragging around the image.

To remove a spot, click on it with the Spot Removal tool. Lightroom will automatically select an area of good pixels to sample.


If you’re not happy with Lightroom’s automatic sample, click on the second circle and drag it to a new area. Lightroom will now sample from there.

Continue panning around the image clicking on spots until they’re all gone.

Once you’re done, you can continue editing your now spot-free image.

Dust spots are a major annoyance but, thanks to great software, they no longer ruin photos. Whenever you’re editing a landscape image, you should always check your sky for dust spots. It’s there you’ll notice them most.

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Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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