Photoshop’s wide array of cloning tools is the cause of many of the absolute best and worst works created with the application. In a skilled and experienced hand, these tools lead to phenomenal results. In the hands of a careless artist, Photoshop cloning can be disastrous to the credibility of the result. I am going to give a very brief explanation and short tutorial on how to correctly use Photoshops clone tool when removing dust spots and rain droplets from your images.
Basically the Clone Stamp tool is the oldest and most widely known of the cloning tools. The basic concept is that you duplicate certain portions of an image using a source, destination and brush. To begin, simply click on the preferred source area while holding down the “Option” key (“Alt” on a PC). Then, with no keys held down, begin painting over the area you want to replace. The image area from the source will be transferred to the destination. The first setting you’ll want to be familiar with is the brush. Photoshop does not restrict cloning to a basic default brush. Instead, it allows you to use any brush you want, allowing you to create an unlimited number of effects. In the example above, and in most cases in fact, a small to medium-sized round soft brush give the best results. The reason why the soft brush works best for most cases is that the transition is a lot smoother and less noticeable compared to the hard brush which leaves a distinct hard edge to the transition resulting in noticeable adjustments to the image.
Some basic settings are listed under the “Sample” menu. There are three options: Current Layer, Current & Below and All Layers. These options affect the area you are sourcing. This is somewhat confusing, but I guarantee once you’ve had a play in Photoshop with the different user settings on your own image you’ll pick it up in no time.
Below is a recent image of mine taken from Woolgoolga Headland, NSW Australia, of an epic double rainbow. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain and it was impossible to get a shot without any raindrops on the lens (although I was using a circular polarizer) the rain still caused problems. Fortunately I knew this image wasn’t ruined thanks to the help of the clone tool in Photoshop.
As you can see in the above image the raindrops filled most of the frame distracting us from the glorious rainbow which just so happened to turn into a double rainbow. Although I don’t mind the raindrops on the image here because I feel it does add to the atmosphere of the scene, but it did need cleaning up and I wanted the viewers full focus to be on the rainbow. The clone tool has done wonders, see the below after image…
This is the outcome from 10 minutes spent using the clone/stamp tool in photoshop to remove the unwanted raindrops from the image. As you can the image is clean from distractions (minus the signs in the foreground, they will be cloned or cropped when I’ve finished processing) and much more pleasant on the eyes. I have also corrected the levels but applying ‘Auto’ levels in Photoshop to correct the green colour cast.
This image was also taken on the same afternoon of the same rainbow (obviously), except this was minutes before the rain came. I did not need to clone any raindrops from the image except for a few little dust spots here and there. This would have to be my personal favourite from the magical afternoon.
I hope you found this short tutorial helpful in some way. I will be posting more tutorials, my next one will be on why using a CPL (circular polarized filter) is important for rainforest, waterfall and forest photography.
Stay tuned for next time, thanks for reading and happy shooting everyone!