The first exercise in part four of DPP dealt with the relatively simple process of correction two different artefacts that photographers come across from time to time. Dust shadows (generated when dust falls either on ten lens or on the sensor) and polygonal flare (or lens flare, when the light coming in to the lens doesn’t fall straight on to the sensor but bounces around in the lens before striking it at an angle).

The first common issue when changing lenses in anything lens than perfect conditions is that the photographer always runs the risk of dust getting into the lens or the body of the camera. This can cause shadows to be formed on the image when the exposure is made with the camera.

To rectify this it is a fairly simple case of ‘spotting’ the image i.e. cloning (copying) a similar part of the image to cover the spot of dust.

SONY DSCThe image above is the ‘dirty’ image. I can see multiple spots of dust in the blue sky. They are easy to see due to the even spread of colour and stand out very easily. In the white, snowy areas of the image I can also see some spots. However, it is very difficult for me to tell whether they are dust spots or whether they actually existed at the time. I will come back to this at the end of the exercise.

Ex1 screen shot DPP

The screen shot above shows the areas that were spotted. I magnified the image to 100% to be sure I could see all the spots and then proceeded to use the clone tool in Lightroom to effectively copy and paste a similar area on to the spot to cover and disguise it. Looking closely at the snow there are two spots that I have decided to alter, bottom left and middle right.


Above is the cleaned up image. The cloning tool works very well as the sky is a very consistent hue which means any cloning of it is minimally noticeable. Added to this is that the viewer is not looking for any artefacts and the eye assumes that the sky is blue so any artefacts would have to be fairly obvious (as indeed the dust shadows were prior to treatment).

The second part of this exercise again involved some cloning but this time it was to repair the lens flare.
Lens flair originalThe image has pronounced lens flare top right of the frame. To rectify this I used the clone tool again in Photoshop. In the first instance I used the clone tool set to ‘colour’. I chose the points of image that were closest to the colour I wanted to clone and use on the lens flare to cover it. I found that this didn’t make too much difference to the look of the lens flare. Then I changed clone tool to ‘darken’ in the drop down settings and again chose clone points closest to matching the desired colour on the flare. This made a lot of difference and started pulling the colour closer to that of the surrounding area.

Lens-flair-editMy main issue with matching up the colours was the noisy blue sky. Unlike my dust spot image, there is a lot of noise making matching up the colours and getting them even a lot more tricky. So here I can still see a dark blue circle where the lens flare has been patched up. However, it is possible on a first look from the viewer that they may not notice the blotchy bit of sky.

As I said, I also cleaned up two spots on the snow in the first image in this exercise. One of them I am fairly sure, was a dust spot (middle right). The other, though, I am not so sure about. It may have been a naturally occurring shadow on the landscape, it was virtually impossible to to tell even at 100% magnification.The busier the scene gets the more hidden and difficult to distinguish the artefacts get until one may legitimately ask if it really matters. It raises an interesting question though. Although with good intent to clean the image, I have in fact altered it artificially by adding (during the cloning) something that wasn’t on the original ‘negative’ (in this case the RAW file). In the course notes it points out that (as I have potentially done in the snow) I may end up removing a ‘real’ part of the scenery and does this matter. In that I have removed the dust spots I have already altered the physical composition of the image, I have already altered something the was ‘real’. Most people would argue that this is not a problem, that I am just cleaning up the image.

However, taken to it’s natural conclusion, this is me airbrushing any manner of undesired artefacts out of my photography; dust, spots, cellulite, people, guns. All things considered, this is very much the tip of the iceberg and exactly what this part of the module is all about. More than photography technique, it is about ethics of photography in the digital ‘darkroom’. Hence the title of this project ‘Digital photography and ‘truth’’.


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