Image cleanup in Lightroom

Header image cleanup

When starting the post processing in Lightroom you may notice elements that perhaps at shooting you didn’t avert. Examples of them are:

  • Dust
  • Unknown elements present at the scenery

They are also known as blemishes, although the term applies more to portrait photography into skin retouch.

On the other hand, the adjustment brush provides a way to adjust tiny areas of your images inside of Lightroom. Useful when you want to dodge or burn areas of an image, soften the skin, whiten the teeth of a person, etc.

Heal vs Clone

As we open the image we want to heal, Lightroom gives us two options of image restoration tools:

  • Spot Removal
  • Red Eye Correction

Red Eye correction is used only at portrait photography, whilst Spot Removal works for every kind of scene.

Inside the Spot Removal tool, there are two modes of work: Clone or Heal.

Let me explain a bit on this. Clone may sound great, but most of the times are not the best approach into healing photos. Why? Because if you use clone too much, your image will start showing at certain points the same elements, which will end up giving a non-realistic look or an obviously “look-this-image-is-retouched” look.

Heal, on the other hand, blends the pixel it samples with the pixels you are wanting to fix. So in most cases for minor areas (which are commonly the household of dust and scratches) work wonderfully.

If your case was that you want to remove an element like a street lamp or something like that from the scene, then a combination between Heal and Clone is a must.

Elements of the Brush in Spot Removal

It is composed of three elements:

  • Size: The size of the brush. It can be adjusted with the slider, the wheel of your mouse or after placing the spot with the mouse
  • Feather: Controls the softness at the edges of the brush. Mostly important for portrait photography retouch given the tonality change in short areas.
  • Opacity: Keep to 100% if you want to completely erase an imperfection, or reduce if you just want to blend the imperfection to your scene.

Procedure for Spot Removal

After opening the image in Lightroom select the Spot Removal tool


I will start using the Heal tool. First, locate with zoom the area where you need to apply the adjustment. Then click at the point to vanishing the imperfection. The size of the brush can be adjusted prior clicking (better choice) or after it is placed. You notice then that Lightroom will also create another spot for sampling; this spot can be altered (scaled or moved) using your mouse.



Drag the circle with the arrow around the scene for resampling

Remember to select all the elements that contain imperfections to be fixed at the same moment. Perhaps you end up having several points selected, don’t worry about it. The problem is that unlike Photoshop, when you click to apply the tool again it won’t work or it will modify as well the work you been doing. You can use this approach to fix uncorrected elements, but try to adjust at the first time correctly to avoid losing time. Hit ‘Done’ after you finish applying changes.


See? Easy stuff. For Clone tool is the same procedure.

Red eye removal tool

In case we need to remove Red Eye effect from our photos, Lightroom gives us two tools: Red Eye and Pet Eye (obviously no need to explain the last one).

So I am going to work with a pet photo with the Pet Eye tool.

Start by importing the picture and then select the Red Eye Removal Tool. At the tool mode, hit Pet Eye.


Lightroom will ask us to place the Pet Eye tool. Just one click to each eye and that’s all. Pretty simple to use. On the panel, there are options for increasing or decreasing the pupil size. Actually the mode it creates automatically works well.


In this cases, the Before & After tool at View comes really handy. To exit this mode go to View—-Loupe

One thing to notice is that when working with pets, the red eye removal tool won’t activate, as it does a completely different effect than red eye removal tool.

Unlike Photoshop, I find this tool amazingly useful. Even more, because it gives realistic results of what pet’s eyes would actually look without the effect of the camera flash.

So as you can see there are plenty of elements to fix our images in Lightroom. Nowadays unless the repairs to do are too much complicated there is no need to apply to Photoshop for cleaning elements like this.

In my opinion is a huge improvement Lightroom has been doing to compete in the market and also to definitely position itself as the best choice for Photography Development

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