lightroom tips from michael maersch



'Spotting' Imperfections in Scanned Film-Generated Photos


The headache of retouching images after slaving over chemical trays in the darkroom has always been the worst part of printing from film in my opinion. I no longer work in a wet darkroom, however, imperfections still exist in photographs I originally shot on film, then scanned from an existing print or from film itself. I intend to print some of these old images as digital versions on fine paper.


old rail line photo by michael maersch


In my classes and whenever I make a presentation to groups where I speak about the many notable features built into Lightroom, one of the most remarkable I submit is the Develop module's Spot Removal tool. This non-destructive retouching tool is so good at doing its job, getting rid of targeted imperfections, it's almost scary. Watching the SR tool at work I am reminded of a recent Nova program about IBM's artificial intelligence machine, 'Watson' and, as well 'Hal', in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey – about 'machine learning', how 'artificial intelligence' learns from its past, completed tasks.

Point is, each time I work with Lightroom's Spot Removal tool, with every click the tool seems to make 'smarter' and 'better' moves sampling from surrounding pixel data in order to seamlessly, perfectly repair dust, scratches and other imperfections. The Spot Removal tool even does an excellent job of repairing imperfections in circumstances where a scratch or a spot is between areas of high contrast – like this inext image, a scan of an old print of mine I wanted to touch up.