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I'm having some difficulty removing shiny white spots caused by refraction and reflection of sunlight through my wide-angle lens. Is there a better way of removing these spots rather than going through spot remover in Lightroom and removing each one by hand?

Or just don't take pictures of the sun directly?

Here's the original image and here's a close up of a part of it for closer inspection, so you can see exactly what I mean.

enter image description here

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  • What aperture were you using? – Michael C Aug 23 '18 at 7:57
  • @MichaelClark f/14 – bearmohawk Aug 23 '18 at 7:59
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Have you already checked your lens and sensor for dust? If not, don't clean them yet. If the problem is caused by dust, you may be able to use a photograph of the specks as a mask to guide their removal in your existing images. Also do not use any automated dust removal feature built into your camera until after you get a clean shot of the dust that you are able to successfully use to post process your existing images.

If the specks are fairly consistent across images, but you've already cleaned your lens and sensor, you can reuse a mask that you manually create for one image.

If the specks are moving around, they may still be caused by dust on your sensor. If your camera has in-body image stabilization, the sensels won't map directly to image pixels. This would make post processing the images more troublesome because you'd likely have to manually align the mask. (See How can I automatically digitally remove shifting sensor dust speckles from a large series of photos?)


Unfortunately, most automated ways of removing specks like these will degrade image quality. If the specks are limited to the sky, it is fairly straightforward to limit noise-reduction to desired areas with a layer mask.

The most time efficient way of dealing with these images would be to use them at reduced size, where the defect simply isn't visible. (Basically, ignoring the problem.) You can spend more time removing specks from only the images you really want to enlarge.

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Or just don't take pictures of the sun directly?

Assuming the artifacts are caused by dust on the sensor (they probably wouldn't be so well defined if the dust were in your lens), you can lessen their influence by using a larger aperture. Of course, this will probably require a neutral density filter to compensate for the change in exposure since you're already probably close to your camera's minimum shutter time.

The particles may even be directly on the sensor surface, rather than on the front of the filter stack directly in front of the sensor. For more about that, please see How can I tell if a scratch is directly on my sensor or on the filter above it? and What are these purple pixels on my Canon 60D and how do I get rid of them?

If your camera has an automatic dust delete feature, performing a sample frame might be useful if the artifacts are in the same place on every image. If they're moving around every image, then dust on your sensor probably isn't the culprit.

  • you can lessen their influence by using a larger aperture. The drawback of this advice (in general) when shooting directly at the sun is that you don't get diffraction spikes that are typical of small-aperture shooting. (But in the case of this particular photo, the diffraction spikes weren't prominent anyways, so the advice applies without said drawback) – scottbb Aug 23 '18 at 8:45
  • @scottbb I've often found with trees that large and such an irregular surface that diffraction spikes aren't normally very prominent, if present at all. Although most of my experience with that has been with stars at night. – Michael C Aug 23 '18 at 16:19
  • yeah, I've also struggled to capture bright-sun diffraction spikes with irregular field stops such as trees, without underexposing the scene. – scottbb Aug 23 '18 at 16:23
  • Hey, and not everyone necessarily wants diffraction spikes. – Michael C Aug 23 '18 at 17:56

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