Blurry black dots in the background of your photos are dust spots. These are artifacts located on the sensor of your camera, or more rarely on the lens, and which are captured on the photo itself. They are very irritating, and even if you think you got rid of them during editing, you might just find more later. This is especially annoying if you just paid to print your photo and the dust spots are more evident on the paper version.
Dust accumulates on your sensor over time and you can find our tutorial on how to clean your sensor: “How to clean your camera sensor”. However, you cannot change the past and some photos will have it no matter what you do.
You can spend time viewing your photo at maximum magnification, checking it inch by inch. Luckily, Lightroom has a pretty handy tool that helps highlight darker dust spots. This is the Visualize Spots tool – let’s see how it works.
Step 1: Put your photo in develop mode
You will most likely see dust spots in photos with lots of sky in the background, or white areas. Photos with a lot of detail tend to hide dust spots to the point where they are almost undetectable. Still, there is nothing wrong with checking.
Open your photo in Adobe Lightroom and go to the “Develop” window. You can select it from your library and press the “D” key on your keyboard for more speed.
Step 2: Select the “defect removal” tool
The shortcut for this is “Q” on your keyboard, or you can select the “blemish removal” tool below the histogram window. This is the tool you will use to find and remove dust spots.
Step 3: Activate the visualization of spots
Next, you need to activate View Points mode. You can do this by checking the box as shown above in the screenshot. You can also press the “A” key on the keyboard to activate and deactivate alternate mode. It is much faster that way!
If the toolbar is not displayed by default, go to “View> Show Toolbar”, or use the “T” shortcut.
You will then see that the image has been inverted. The slider in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen increases or decreases the sensitivity. What you see are the contrast areas of the photo, so the higher the sensitivity the more likely it is to pick up the very slight contrast of dust spots in the background.
All those little rings you see in the background (there are 4 of them in this photo) are dust spots. They must be removed.
Step 4: Remove stains
It’s easy. Just click on each point with the point removal tool you have already selected, and they will be automatically deleted. Lightroom will choose a similar area to blend in with the dust point, but you can drag and drop this selection if you want.
The tools you see on the right (size, feather, opacity) allow you to adjust the tool for better rendering.
And now, voila !