Dust on the sensor usually means a tedious time removing spots from lots of photos. This is particularly true if the subject is a time lapse sequence that has hundreds of individual images that have to be cleaned up. Dust particles on a camera’s sensor make black fuzzy, dust bunnies in exactly the same place on the photo until the sensor is cleaned. The clouds and sun image below is just one of about a hundred made from a window seat on a Delta 757. The spot toward the top middle just left and between the flare and the sun on every single shot makes for a maddening amount of work. Or does it?

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Spot Removal Tool

Lightroom 5’s Spot Removal tool also known as the Advanced Healing brush can get rid of dust from several files at the same time. It is literally fix one and be done! Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. Still, it is a quick and simple fix. Press the Q key to open the tool or click the second icon from the left under the Histogram panel. Shift plus Q switches from Heal to Clone.

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Auto Sync

It’s been said that Auto Sync is like a monkey with a loaded gun. Fortunately, Lightroom adjustments aren’t permanent so the monkey’s gun is shooting blanks. There is a switch in the Sync button at the bottom of the left side bar in the Develop module. When clicked it toggles to Auto Sync. Auto Sync applies changes to the most selected file to all of the selected files. Click the first photo in the Filmstrip then shift click the last one to select them. The first one is the “most” selected. It’s the one that gets worked on with the Spot Removal tool. To see all of the dust click the Visualize Spots box. Learn more about this tool here. Below is a sequence of the cloud photographs. The dust spot is in the same place on all nine photos. They are circled in red for readers using devices with smaller screens.

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The Spot Removal tool is set on Heal. Click the offending dust bunny with a brush that’s large enough to cover it or scrub a smaller brush until it’s covered, release the mouse button and the tool finds a corresponding dustless sample and blends in the result. Removing a dust spot on the first photo eliminates it from all the rest, instantly. Neat.

A word of caution…

The sequence above has three instances where the dust spot is right on a cloud, namely numbers 2, 5 and 8. Using the Heal option blends the sample area into the targeted one made with the brush. Where a contrasting edge appears, the blend can become an obnoxious blur like the one circled below.

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The solution is to Shift Q to the clone tool then find a sample area that fits. The take away is that a dirty sensor doesn’t mean hours in Photoshop painstakingly spotting out dust with the Healing brush or the Clone Stamp tool. Lightroom 5’s Advanced Healing technology is a great time saver. Watch the video below for more details.

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Oh. Remember to clean your sensor. It’s even easier than this tutorial!