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Get rid of smog in the clouds and dirt


marym
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This was taken from a plane. I've tried playing with several tools but it keeps looking dirty. How do I edit out the smog and dirty spots on window or make them less prominent? I've printed it this way and it just looks dirty and dull. 

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The 'copy' is just part of how I file things. I duplicate the originals and use those files for editing. No, I haven't used the patch tool. Trying to spot correct and heal everything :) 

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1 minute ago, marym said:

The 'copy' is just part of how I file things. I duplicate the originals and use those files for editing.

Oh, this is every bit as bad as I feared.  This is so so so so so so so so so bad.

You must NEVER do that.  You need to understand how big these raw files are, and how you are doubling the burden on your hard drive when you do this.  Essentially, you're halving the capacity of your computer, for absolutely no benefit.

And I can't stress this enough.  ABSOLUTELY no benefit.  Whatever benefit you think exists, I assure you it does not.

Have you ever read the phrase "non-destructive editing"?

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"Non-destructive editing" is an overly-dramatic term.  Basically, it means that you can edit a raw file as often, or as aggressively, as you like, and you never actually change the raw file.  The adjustments are made to the xmp data, and the original raw data is never altered in any way.  At any time, you can return to the original raw file, no matter what changes you've made to its white balance, exposure, etc.

Because of this, it's utterly unnecessary to make duplicates of raw files.  As I said, it just fills up your hard drive space twice as fast, for absolutely no benefit.

Of course you must always make backups, yes.  But never duplicates.

So before I show you how to fix this smog problem, can you please promise me you'll cease duplicating your raw files?

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STEP 1:  Do your raw processing.  Don't forget the noise removal, this is VITALLY important.

STEP 2 - THE LAYERS:  First, duplicate the Background layer.  If it suits you, rename it as I have done.  We'll come back to that layer shortly.  Next, add a Levels adjustment layer:

smog01.thumb.jpg.7e894568e8b24264ee2eae63c3a1f77e.jpg

STEP 3:  Option-click on the "Auto" button in the Levels dialog:

smog02.png.d2dab56d12eb3414e4ebb09d3a0fb7e5.png

It will bring up this little window.  Make sure it's set to "Enhance Per Channel Contrast".  This will change the colour of the photo significantly, and make the contrast very aggressive:

smog03.thumb.jpg.2638c0cd950721e5532706210683acf1.jpg

The changed colour and added contrast will help you see the dirt spots more clearly, in order to remove them more effectively.

STEP 4:  Return to the Dirt Fix layer and choose your Patch Tool:

smog04.thumb.jpg.d7e0dddaeaa243ee8fde99354bb49850.jpg

Since you said you haven't used it, I'm going to explain it fairly thoroughly here.  First, you draw a little selection around a spot.  Make sure you leave a little bit of room around it, but not too much:

smog05.thumb.jpg.893dc0ac0cdcf7e67a50b37d6e43a432.jpg

Then click in the middle of that area, and drag away to an area of very similar detail.  In this case, I dragged to the right, and ever so slightly up.  I watched the live preview inside the selected area, to make sure the cloud lined up properly:

smog06.thumb.jpg.b12d902fc08526bc1c65b701479aba32.jpg

(It'll make sense once you try it.)

When you release the mouse button, it will replace the dirt spot with good detail:

smog07.thumb.jpg.c004619b075edd6e1988cffbdda2c892.jpg

Then you can hit Cmd D to deselect the area (get rid of the marching ants):

smog08.thumb.jpg.cd059fcf49c1435e9dc583258f578c48.jpg

Repeat that process for all the spots you can see.

In this photo, I was able to use the Patch Tool to get rid of all the spots in the photo except this one:

smog09.thumb.jpg.b4c637cb57aa13056435243719f10026.jpg

The reason that one didn't work was that it occurs in an area of too complex detail - that is, where a line of cloud intersects with a faint mountain outline. The Patch Tool in this area would have mushed that detail unacceptably.

So ...

STEP 5 - CLONING:  Choose the Clone Tool, and check the settings. The "Sample" must be on "Current and Below" (at all times, not just for this photo), and for this one use 20% for opacity:

smog10.thumb.png.8d3684fe11440855f4c91cb36248d9a7.png

Then gently clone out that last spot:

smog11.thumb.jpg.051956c64bc37c691a6e9acd4e2474c5.jpg

FINISH:  Once all the spots are gone, delete the Levels layer, and your photo is clear and ready for your usual editing procedure:

smog12.thumb.jpg.375aac2bd1fd85ea1de7a2ac2005a808.jpg

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3 hours ago, Crystal Felton said:

awesome....I kind of like the browns though, lol.  could you leave that layer on, or would a different adjustment type be preferable?

Lol, yeah, I thought that too!  Yes, of course that layer could stay on if desired.

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OK I'm working on this now. In your tutorial for noise reduction it talks about doing 'normal tonal edits' first. Do you have any tips for those? I'm not sure how much I should adjust before Photoshop.

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22 minutes ago, marym said:

In your tutorial for noise reduction it talks about doing 'normal tonal edits' first. Do you have any tips for those?

The best in the world, I promise: https://www.damiensymonds.net/trainingraw.html

22 minutes ago, marym said:

I'm not sure how much I should adjust before Photoshop.

As much as possible.  While your raw data is still raw data, make the most of it.  Once you transfer to Photoshop, it's still good data, but no longer that amazing quality raw data.

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