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Retouching blemishes

When your camera’s sensor is dirty, you might find blemishes or dust marks in the midtones of your photos, especially in sky areas.

Nowadays, most cameras have an automatic self-cleaning system, but it is also important to clean regularly and keep the equipment in good condition. Even with a clean sensor, it is possible that the blemishes will appear in images shot with an aperture of f/16 or higher.

When that happens, you should retouch the image during postproduction. This can be done easily in Photoshop, without creating blurred areas or “cloning clouds.” In the photo below, you can see a close up of a sky with numerous dust marks.

We can retouch the image with either the healing brush or the clone stamp

These two tools work differently:

The healing brush

This tool allows you to retouch blemishes in an image. This area “paints” over the area of your choice with pixels sampled from another part of the image. It automatically matches the texture, lighting, shading, and transparency of the pixels sampled. We choose the area to sample by pressing alt and clicking (Windows) or option click (Mac OS).

This tool doesn´t work well along the edges between two different colors, because it samples from both colors and creates a blend of the two, blurring the edge. If this happens, you should use the clone stamp.

The clone stamp

The clone tool copies a part of the photo within the same image. It is very useful for eliminating defects in an image. Just like the brush corrector, you define the area you want to clone by pressing alt and clicking (Windows) or option click (Mac OS).

This tool isn´t automatic, so we have to match the texture we want to clone. The brush has a variable diameter, depth, and opacity, in order to vary the effect.

In this case, we would recommend the healing brush because it works well in large areas.

With the healing brush tool we don´t have to worry about the brightness of the sampled area, because the tool automatically matches the light in the different areas. In less than a minute, our sky is spotless!

So, as you can see, by taking the time to make a few simple adjustments (that in many cases can be applied automatically to groups of images) you can make the difference between a decent image and one that is standout. And you know, that can make the difference between making a sale or not.


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