« Around the Web This Morning | Main | T.O.P. Ten New Camera Recommendations »

Sunday, 07 October 2007


Thanks Ctein, I can't wait to try this, I have about 200 scans to make over the next few months from a summer project. I shot all 120 color negative and scan at 4000 ppi, so I do tend to see everything, especially when I print 30 inches square.

I used to use this approach to clean up underwater shots where there was too much backscatter (reflection of the camera flash from particles in the water - often a real problem underwater). It works very well. The "darken" mode is the key to this.

You can also do this on a separate layer rather than using the history brush, and use a mask. This makes it easier to see and fine-tune the effect if there are parts of the image which need protection from this process, and it's just as quick once you're used to it.

All this makes me realise I haven't had my camera underwater for about a year now. It's time to book a trip ...

Thanks, I have scans that I have never printed because of dust and the agony of spot healing and clone brushes used to the extreme. Gives me an insight to the history brush too.


Another method for removing dust and scratches from large areas of monochromatic color: 1) Select the monochromatic area and copy onto a separate layer; 2) Change the new layer's blending mode to Darken (assuming the defects are showing as white because a negative was scanned; if a transparency was scanned, set blending mode to Lighten); and 3) Select the Move tool and use the keyboard arrows to nudge the new layer horizontally and/or vertically until the specks disappear.

This works extremely quickly and rarely requires any kind of brush touchup.

very helpful, Ctein..also Stephen..thank you both!

Are you aware of the freely available Polaroid Dust and Scratch Removal Utility from


It does much the same thing automatically. Recommended if you use a scanner without ICE. As with other options, use on a separate layer and restore where it produces unwanted side-effects such as holes in small twigs etc.

Stephen and Gerard,

I couldn't get satisfactory results with either of your approaches. Dust and crud typically span several pixels. The shifted layer produces visibly-doubled grain when applied to Figure 1 with enough of a shift to suppress the garbage. Applying it to an image with fine subject detail, it blurred out the detail unacceptably.

I've never gotten the hang of the Polaroid utility. Whenever I try it, the result look like crap-- really horrible things happen to the grain pattern. I've pushed those sliders all over the place, and nothing seems to look right.

Care to give me some pointers?

pax / Ctein


Thanks for this technique, I am working from the opposite end of the spectrum, digital images that are too clean.

I wonder if the authour could comment on the current state of affairs w/regard to adding grain to digital via PS. Two notable software packages off the top of my head (alien skins exposure and DXO film pack) do just such a thing, and it seems that many of us digital guys are trying to work the same grain into images as the author is trying to remove.

Funny how things are coming full circle in the digital age. I have been working for five years on the best way to 'deresolve' my images. I also work with dirty slides as a means of overlaying them onto images I find just a little too pristine.

Thanks in advance for any comments you have.

Dear Taran,

I'm afraid I can be of no help whatsoever. While I can live with grain, I've never considered it an aesthetic virtue in my work. For my ends, all the tools for adding grain to cleaner images are going in exactly the wrong direction.

Sorry I can't advise.

pax / Ctein

Thanks Ctein - this is going to be incredibly useful for me.

Taran - try here: http://www.pbase.com/olafdk/image/68851042

The comments to this entry are closed.