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If you spend a lot of time shooting outdoors with an SLR, it's inevitable that you will, at some point, have a problem with sensor dust. Even if you never change lenses in the field, dust can still work its way into your camera and show up on your images as smudges and spots. You can tell for sure that a dust spot is a dust spot on your sensor if it appears in the same place across several images. Watch this spot right here, which looks like it could actually be a feature on the ground, but as I switch to the next image, an image which is panned, you can see now the spot is staying in the same place.
I have got the same problem up here, and there is another one over here. So in this case, my sensor is completely covered with dust, which isn't too big of a surprise, given that I am standing on top of the sand dune. You'll probably also find that dust spots are more visible when shooting at smaller apertures. Unfortunately, because you usually shoot landscapes with small apertures to ensure deep depth of field, this means that your landscape images will be more prone to revealing any dust problems that you might have. The good news is that Camera Raw has an easy mechanism for dealing with sensor dust.
I want you to open an image, but first, I want to show you a quick shortcut here. You can easily take a folder and drop it over here in the Favorites panel of Bridge to create a shortcut to it. So now I can just click on Exercise Files to get to a folder full of exercise files. Open up Crop1 again. This was the image that we are working with for awhile now, and you've probably already noticed that there is a bad dust spot right here, and there are couple of others hidden around here and there.
So we need to take that out. Another tip that I have learned the hard way; before you go scrubbing with your mouse on a piece of dust, pick up the window and move it around a little bit and make sure this spot of dust moves. I don't know how much of my life I have lost to trying to remove spots that were actually pieces of dust on my monitor. It's very embarrassing. Actually, I can't believe I am talking about it. The Spot Removal tool is right here. If I select it, I get a cursor that is just a Brush tool. I have two controls for it: Radius and Opacity.
Radius controls the size. Problem with the Radius slider is if I go over here and adjust the Radius, I've got to come back over here to see how big the brush is. The easier way to adjust the radius of the brush is to simply use the Left and Right Bracket keys on the keyboard; same as the Brush shortcuts in Photoshop. I want to make the brush just a little bit bigger than the spot of dust, and then I click, and that's it; the dust is gone. There's really not that much to say about the Spot Removal tool because it works really well; it's very easy to use. If you're wondering what this other circle is, this is where Photoshop is sampling from and building a patch that goes over this image.
See if I am dragging up here now, it's not quite as clean. So, if Photoshop makes a mistake in where it chooses, you can manually correct it by moving this around. So I am just going to prowl through my image here, looking for other dust spots. It's worse on this side of the sensor it looks like. Make my brush a little smaller, take out that one, that one. Again, these are nondestructive edits, because all Photoshop has to do is remember the coordinates of these different points, and it can store those in the XMP file, and that's pretty good.
I have got the image pretty clean. While it's possible to do more complex corrections with the Spot Removal brush, it's best to really use it only for spots. Sure, I could go in with it and meticulously try and paint ship rock out of here, but if those are the types of edits you want to use, you're better off working in Photoshop with a variety of different tools. Really, Spot Removal is for these kind of single-click spot jobs. Obviously, once you've found a sensor dust problem, you want to address it at the camera level before you go shooting again. You need to get your sensor clean.
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