How To Remove Dust and Scratches In Adobe Lightroom

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Dust and scratches are a reality of older images. You may also be using a camera that isn’t in good shape. The point is that you need to clean it up. First impressions are everything, and people make them in 50 milliseconds. Don’t diminish the visual power of your images because you left visible marks in there. The right image can make you stand out.

So how do you go about removing dust and scratches in Adobe Lightroom? This tutorial is going to show you how using the black and white image of a ship.

Step 1 – Finding the Marks

To begin with, you should click on your image and zoom in. This is where you’ll get a good look at exactly where the marks are and how severe they are. On older images, you will have some grains. This is fine, but the dust spots can get distracting. You may even want to remove some unwanted small objects that don’t add anything to the image.

By zooming in and making a mental note of where all the unwanted items are, you’ll be able to get closer to a pristine image.


Step 2 – Working with the Toolbar

Before the cleaning actually begins, start by making the toolbar visible. It should already be in the Develop module. If it isn’t press the keyboard shortcut T to make it appear. You’ll be able to control the zoom level and make any side-by-side comparisons.


Step 3 – Basic Fixes Using the Healing Brush

To start with, you are going to perform a basic fix using a simple healing brush. This will be done in the regular way. If you still have an early version of Lightroom, this is the spot removal brush. Newer versions of Lightroom allow you to drag the same brush and make as many shapes as you want.

You can either decide to heal or clone the spot in question. For a sky, like we have here, it may be worth cloning because you have a relatively even piece of the image. It’s much easier than using the heal brush, which may come up with something completely unrealistic.

Generally, you don’t need to bother altering the settings of the healing brush.


Step 4 – Clearing the Problem

Just click on the dust spots and they will start to be healed. If it doesn’t do a good job, undo and start again. It’s often worth switching between cloning and healing to see if you get a better effect. Sometimes the matches that Lightroom come up with are terrible.

Feel free to click and drag to create new shapes. This is how you can get rid of the scratches as well. If you don’t like a patch, just right-click and hit the Delete key on your keyboard.

Step 5 – Bringing in the Visualize Spots Feature

So far, you have likely cleared most of the problems. The image used in this tutorial is simple to work with and most of the blemishes can be noted fairly easily. You can do this across the whole image and you’ll have something that you can present proudly.

However, Lightroom has a tool that makes all this even easier. You can speed up this tedious process using the Visual spots feature. This can be found on the toolbar. When you have the healing brush selected, the toolbar will reveal the Visual Spots tool, which you can click on.

When you press this button, you’ll get a filter that creates high contrast and reveals all the areas where spots are. It’s only a temporary filter and will disappear when you finally export the image.


In our tutorial, you can see the dust spots showing up in the form of white dots. You can play around with the sliders to make the filter more sensitive. The best setting will differ for every type of image, so you have to be prepared to get creative here.

You should use this feature in order to get some of the peskier blemishes. Add this filter towards the end of your session to make sure you’ve got everything. The healing brush works in the same way as it does when this feature isn’t switched on.


Adobe Lightroom is fantastic because it allows you to bring back images that you previously thought lost. Those restored images from the past can be used again for anything you want. All it requires is some playing around with the features on offer and you can make your photos pop.

What other tips do you have for enhancing your images?


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