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The Radius slider adjusts the size of the area searched for the abrupt transition, measured in pixels. You can select from 1 to 16 pixels. If your image is full of dust spots, you might find a value of about four pixels useful, but for most pictures either a one or two-pixel radius should be sufficient. The larger the radius you select, the greater the blurring effect on your image, so you should use the smallest radius you can. The Threshold slider tells the filter just how extreme a transition must be before it should be considered a defect. Set the radius slider to the lowest setting that eliminates the spots in the Preview window, and then adjust the Threshold slider up from zero until defects begin to reappear. The idea is to eliminate dust and scratches without adding too much blur to your image.

Using the Clone Stamp

Our sample picture was taken with a digital camera and doesn't have dust spots. It does have some white spots that were possibly caused by some bad pixels in the sensor. If the spots had been gray or black and we were using a digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, it's likely that they were caused by dust on the sensor. Usually, you can blow off this dust to avoid leaving dark spots on every digital photo you take. (Sensor cleaning can be tricky; you can find more information on this topic in my book Mastering Digital SLR Photography, from Course Technology.)

We can erase these white spots just as if they were dust spots; the same technique applies to both kinds of defects. With conventional photography, dust spots are covered up with spotting brushes or pens, and if the pen happens to match the color of the background, the process can be quick and easy. With Photoshop, the process is even easier, because the Clone tool can be used to create a pen that automatically matches the color and texture surrounding the spot you are removing. That's because the Clone tool paints copies of those actual pixels. The Healing Brush tool and Spot Healing Brush, discussed later in this chapter, do an even better job, but the Clone Stamp is fine for the following task, because it works much faster.

1. Use the Zoom tool (press Z to activate it) and click in the image multiple times to zoom in so you can see the spots good enough to work on them.

2. Next, choose the Clone Stamp tool (press S). Make sure the Aligned box is checked in the Option bar, and then choose a 13-pixel soft brush from the drop-down Brush menu.

3. Place the cursor near a spot that contains some image area with the same tone and texture as the area surrounding the spot, and click while holding down the Alt/Option key. Photoshop will now use the point where you clicked as the "source" for its cloning action.

4. Paint with the Clone Stamp's brush until you've covered up the spots, as shown in Figure 4.12.

Figure 4.12. A few brushes with the Clone Stamp and most of the spots are invisible. A few more dabs, and the last two you can see in the hat will vanish, too.

Figure 4.12. A few brushes with the Clone Stamp and most of the spots are invisible. A few more dabs, and the last two you can see in the hat will vanish, too.

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