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How to Remove Objects in Lightroom

In: 
Published: 26/04/2021

The need to remove a certain object from a photo arises quite often in real estate photography. There may be people and objects that are a form of distraction in an otherwise perfect exterior or interior view of the property. Understanding how to remove objects in Lightroom will allow you to get the desired look in your images. 

How to Remove Objects in Lightroom Using Spot Removal Tool

Whenever we capture images for real estate, our target is to keep the viewer focused on the key aspects of the property, like design and dimensions. Any unnecessary object steering the attention of the viewer away is the last thing we want.

It is not always in our hands to keep only the things we want in the frame, resulting in many undesirable things in the resulting photo. The good news is that removing these kinds of objects is very easy if you use Lightroom to edit your images.

There is a helpful tool in Lightroom, namely the Spot Removal tool, that can help you tackle this issue in a matter of minutes. You can see the Spot Removal tool in the Develop module. It is placed right next to the Crop tool below the Histogram. 

How Does Lightroom's Spot Removal Tool Work?

Besides the absolute organization and AI-powered autoprocessing, spot removal is another robust feature of Lightroom Classic CC. 

Lightroom's Spot Removal tool works around the idea of replacing the particular section having an unwanted object with a nearby matching section in the image. Lightroom gives you an option to form a selection around the object and then automatically selects a sample selection from nearby to clone or heal the area.

The spot removal tool is ideal for use in portrait, landscape, or real estate photography as the photographers desire control over how their images will look. The tool provides optimum control with its brush size, feathering, and opacity features.

We will now explain how to remove an LED TV from the wall in an image of a living room as an example.

  1. Open Lightroom Classic CC.
  2. Import the image you wish to work upon using the Library module’s Import dialog.
  3. Go to the Develop module.
Importing image for removing unwanted object in Lightroom
  1. Select the Spot Removal tool from the right panel. 
  2. You can also press the keyboard shortcut Q to activate the Spot Removal tool.
  3. The tool functions both as a selection or a brush that you can use to mask the unwanted object.
  4. Now, you need to understand the Spot Removal sliders for brush size, feathering, and opacity to use the tool effectively. 
Adjusting Spot Removal sliders

Brush size

The brush size is a crucial factor for precision in spot removal. You can increase or decrease the brush size using the slider or by pressing [ or ] keys on the keyboard. If the image isn’t very complex, you can use a big brush size to do the work quickly. However, images with closely placed details need a smaller brush size.

Feather

Feather level decides how hard the effect of the Spot removal brush will be. To soften the brush, you need to bring up the feather slider. You are likely to use a soft-edged brush for most images for blending purposes, so take up the Feather slider to maximum level.

Opacity

The opacity slider determines the transparency of the object that is to be removed. It is obvious that removing anything will require you to set the opacity slider to 100 to get rid of the object completely. A lower opacity will give a residual view of the object in the final image. 

Make a Selection Over the Object 

  1. After setting the sliders to the desired limits, you can now select the area surrounding the object. 
  2. You can either select by forming a circular selection or use the brush if the object cannot be contained in a circle. We want to remove the LED from the wall, which requires using the brush.

Adjust the Source Spot Selected by Lightroom

When you select an object either by using a brush or elliptical, Lightroom will automatically find a place closer to the object to replace it. Most of the time, Lightroom does a satisfactory job choosing the source. However, you can drag the selection to some other place deemed suitable by you.

In the image below, Lightroom did select a matching source, but we had to adjust it so that it aligns with the wall panels. 

Adjusting the Source Spot Selected by Lightroom

After matching the source spot, the spot removal works in two ways. You can either choose to clone the spot or heal it.

Using the Clone Tool

The clone tool copies the exact pixels from the source and swaps the object with it. We can say that the effect of a clone tool is much harder than the heal tool. 

Using the Heal Tool

If you choose the heal tool, Lightroom tries to swap the selection with matching pixels to blend in the area.

Choosing whether to clone or heal depends on the image that you are using. For some images, cloning is the go-to option for object removal, whereas some images may require the heal tool.

Whenever you clone or heal using the spot removal tool, it shows a pin on the edited area. To remove that, press H on your keyboard to hide or show the pins. You can now see that the LED TV is removed from the image.

Removing objects using the Heat Tool

Removing Objects With a Single Click

If your image has a few small objects and the rest of the image has a similar look, Lightroom does a perfect job with single-click spot removal. As it is easy to find a source spot for cloning, all you need to do is select the small object, and it will get swapped by source spot pixels. 

In the image below, the ceiling lightings are removed very easily just by selecting the light area once. The auto source selection by Lightroom does the rest as there are no other complexities in the surrounding that hinder source spot detection. We don’t need to adjust the source spot. 

Removing Objects with a single click in Lightroom
Removing ceiling lighting in living room

Visualize Spots Tool

The Visualize spots tool is an example of how technology improves modern photography. It can be found below your workspace in the Develop module. By ticking the checkbox of visualize spots, you will be able to see any dust spots that you missed to remove while editing.

The option to Visualize Spots turns your image into black and white, making it easy to view the spots. You can use the slider beside the option to adjust the sensitivity of this tool.

Conclusion

We hope that our in-depth guide of the Lightroom’s Spot Removal tool will help you remove unwanted objects from your photos easily. In the beginning, you may struggle using this tool. But once you get the hang of it, removing objects from your real estate photos will be a breeze.

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