Sensor cleaning in Photoshop

Dust and similar pollution in the machine or on the relatively big sensor can be a nuisance to owners of digital cameras and cameras with interchangeable objectives as well. A simple changing of the objectives may expose the inside of our camera to quite a lot of pollution. Sooner or later, the dust particles that got in the machine will end up on the sensor. The result will be a photo with a stain on it, which is disturbing and conspicuous mainly on even, homogenous surfaces. Manufacturers have been experimenting with various dust-eliminating methods, but none are foolproof. At the same time, manual cleaning is outside the circle of everyday activities. Once the damage is done, i.e. some dust particles show in the picture despite all our methodical cleaning procedures, it’s time for a Photoshop procedure. Such as the one below.

Load the photo in Photoshop

The grain stains of translucent dust particles can be detected all over the photo, yet their presence is truly disturbing in the sky only, we don’t even notice them on other parts. The good news is that the traces of these little adamant intruders can be removed from even surfaces in a matter of seconds.

Impeccable tool

Select Spot Healing Brush Tool from the tools palette (the J key). If it’s inactive, keep the mouse pressed for 1-2 seconds over the top fourth icon in the left-side tools menu and the options will pop up. Right the first one is Spot Healing Brush used for removing spots, stains.

You can set the attributes in the options bar on the top. It is Diameter that counts the most: it should be set to be bigger than the spot to be removed itself. Hardness slider determines the edge type of the brush. When a high value is given, you’ll have a sharp edge, with low values it will be transitional. Unlike with the picture above, it’s useful to use a somewhat soft-edged brush so that the cloned area merges with its original surroundings better. It should be around 50%. Spacing refers to the distance between the “ink drops” of the brush stroke. It should be set as low as possible.

Mode should be set to Normal, while with Type, choose Proximity Match option.

Stain? It won’t remain.

Once settings are finished, stain removing can commence. Simply click on the spot itself with the Spot Healing Brush. If the spot is of a bigger size, paint it over completely so that the gray patch you paint overlaps the spot. No need to take a sample from other parts of the photo. Photoshop calculates the new colors and the lightness of the area painted over from the surrounding pixels. Don’t paint a too big area, just the spot and its immediate surroundings, otherwise automatic sample will launch and draw strange patterns in the sky. As soon as you release the mouse, the gray patch disappears and so does the dust spot underneath. If you’re unsatisfied with the result, paint again.

Then apply the method for the other spots too. It takes only a few seconds.

Sky free of dust

The sky is clear now. Not of clouds, of course, but at least the outstanding spot disappeared.