As I mentioned yesterday, today I will show you how to remove dust spots in Lightroom and Photoshop. This is more for the beginners among you, as I hope that the more advanced and pro users know this perfectly. And for those lazy to read, I’m including a 5min video at the end, where I show all I described here :)


In Lightroom the process is quite straightforward. You go into the Develop module, choose Spot removal, choose the size, and then just click on the spots. It will choose a second spot, from where to replace the are you clicked on. You can even click on the selection and move it around, to get a better result.

Removing dust spots
Removing dust spots

Still, if you have problems seeing the dust spots in the photo, Lightroom has a handy selection, called Visualize Spots (int the bottom left, visible only when Spot removal is selected). Checking this will change the image showing just the edges. You can also move the slider next to it, to change how detailed the effect is, so you can see more or less, so easily identifying the dust spots.


In photoshop you can use either the:
– Spot healing brush tool – select it, choose content aware in the top selection, and just brush over the dust spots
– Healing brush tool – select it, Alt + click on an similar area without a dust spot and than paint over the dust spot (similar to clone stamp tool)
– Patch tool – select it, drag a selection around the dust spot and then drag the selection onto a clean area

These all are in the same group on the tools menu, and mostly provide the same results. But there are instances, where you are better with using some of them. Especially when repairing and areas with patterns, lines or texture, you are better off using the patch tool, and dragging your selection onto a spot with similar look as the brushes usually don’t preserve textures, and you are loosing detail.

Removing dust spots
Removing dust spots

Same as in Lightroom, you can make it easier to see the dust spots in your photo. Just add a new curves adjustment layer on top of it, (click on the half white/half black circle button in bottom right under layers and choose curves) and create a very strong curve. To do this, click on the line in the first half and drag up, then click on the line in second half and drag down. You will immediately see the difference. Now just select back the layer with the photo, clean the dust spots and then delete the curves layer, as it’s not needed anymore.

For a little more visual explanation, here is a short video where I’m showing all of this I have described here, and if there are still any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

I did few articles about Color Efex pro plugin before, but today, I will go through my most used filters from Color Efex pro, and will also try to explain why and when I use them. There are of course too many filters available in Color Efex pro, but I will stick to my most used here. There are also all the ones I have set in my favorite selection in Color Efex. So let’s go.

1. Pro Contrast

The most used filter by me, and probably by everyone who uses Color Efex. It can be used either to remove color cast from your photos (the first slider) or add more local contrast and detail into them (the third slider). It also allows for contrast corrections, but the doest not work for me that great most of the time.

I use it on most of my photos, as it gives them more pop, making them stand out more. One just can’t overdo it, especially on Dynamic contrast, as that becomes ugly quite quickly. Values around 30% work the best most of the time.

Color Efex
Color Efex

2. Detail Extractor

If you have a spot where you want to show more detail, or want to exaggerate the texture of an object, Detail Extractor is the filter for you. The best way is to use this effect on a duplicate layer, use more than you need, and then just add a layer mask and just brush in how much of the effect you need, and where you need it. Also don’t forged to add contrast (second slider) and also a bit of saturation (third slider). This is because detail extraction removes a lot of contrast and also partial the colors.

Again, it’s very easy to go overboard here, normally the default of 25% should be enough for most cases.

3. Brilliance/Warmth

This one is again used for multiple effects. One is to add more color to you photo, while doing it more subtly than just adding more saturation. Second is to change the overall warmth of the photo. It’s similar to white balance, but still quite different. It can be great especially for sunrise/sunset photos, where you want to get much more golden light from the sun.

Color Efex
Color Efex

4. Glamor Glow

While this is mostly for portrait photography, in landscape photos, glamor glow can be great when you apply it on clouds, especially white ones. It will make them look brighter and softer, exactly what you want from white fluffy clouds. I would suggest adding more saturation in this filter, as it defaults to -29% there and that can wash out the blue sky a bit.

5. Polarization

Same as a normal polarization filter you use on your lends, the polarization filter in Color Efex serves the same purpose. It darkens the sky and makes it a stronger blue color, and it removes overly bright areas by adding more color into them. Can be really helpful if you get a very dull photo and want to put more life into it.

Color Efex
Color Efex

6. Skylight Filter

This filter adds a lot of yellow light into your photos, so shifting mostly the white balance. It’s a bit like a simpler version of the Sunlight filter. It’s really great if you want to shift the colors more towards warm, and just changing the white balance doest not work for you.

7. Sunlight

Another great filter to use on sunrise/sunset photos. If you want to have your photos look like the scenery is filled with light. Together with Skylight and Briliance/Warmith, you can create a wonderful warm photo that just shines with light. And some of my most popular photos used this filter :)

And that’s all. I use few more, but very very rarely. These are really the ones I use the most.

Few days ago I ordered a new Surface Pro 4, and while doing so, I had a thought. Can I install the programs I use (the whole list here) on multiple computers at once? Will I be able to use them without having to purchase a second copy? So I started searching, and here are my results. I’m also including links to the sources where I found the information, regarding the particular software.

PhotoMe, Caesium, Picasa, InfranView

These programs are free, so there is no limitation on how many computers they can be installed

Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge

As you can get these only as a subscription from Adobe Creative cloud, the same limitations are on all of them. A single license for Adobe software lets you install it on two computers at once. Actually, you can install it on as many as you want, but only two can be activated by Adobe at the same time. If you want to activate another one, you first have to deactivate one (source).

Oloneo Photoengine

The license allows for the program to be installed on two computers, as long as they are not used simultaneously (source).

Photomatix Pro

There is no limitation here, and for your own use, you can install Photomatix pro on all your computers. To be exact, on all computers, that you personally use (source).

Nik Collection

For the whole collection of Nik plugins, there are similar rules as by others. You are allowed to install them on up to two computers, and if you want to put them on another one, you first have to remove one of those installations (source).

Topaz Collection

Same as by Nik Collection, Topaz Collection can be installed on up to two computers at the same time (source). (update: since Nik collection is free now, you can install it as much as you want)

Macphun Creative Kit

The Macphun creative kit can be activated on up to 5 computers, of course Mac OS only (source).

Imagenomic Plugins

The trend continues here, with a purchase of an Imagenomic plugin, you will have the right to install it on two computers simultaneously (source).


This is a bit more complicated. From what I found, if you are on their subscription plan, you can use it on up to 5 computers. If you just bought it, you can use it only on one (and there should be versions that are for 2 somewhere). You can check out this discussion about this.

Autopano Software

All licenses bought from Kolor are meant as a single-station licenses, but Kolor tolerates the installation of their software on multiple computers, as long their are all for the same single user (source).


A personal license here is valid for up to three installations, as long they are all used by the user it was licensed to. For multiple users, a different license is required (source).

TK actions & Raya Pro

These are not really software, but actions, and as such, there is no real limitation. Still, I would suggest you support the creators, and only use them on the computers you use.


For this one I have not yet been able to find any information, still looking into that.
Overall, almost all the software can be installed at least on two computers, as long as you are the one person that uses it. I presume it is mostly to accommodate people who use a desktop and a laptop together, so they can have it on both systems.

For the links and more info on all the programs, please visit the What software I use article.

Some landscape photographers (it’s not really an issue if you take photos of people :)) don’t mind people in their photos, some do. And since I’m in the second group, today I will show you few ways how to get no people in your photos.

You may wonder why I don’t want people in my photos, and there are two main reasons. First is that I find them distracting, especially if I have a composition in mind and my goals is to show a certain landmark or scenery. The second reason is more pragmatical. Having people in a photo can prevent me from using the photo commercially, as in a lot of cases, I would need a permission from the person if its identifiable. And bluing out faces is something I really don’t want to do.

So here are few ways how you can avoid people in your shots.
The Angel Station

1. Get up early, really early

Even the most popular spots tend to be empty of people before sunrise. It does mean that you will get no sleep, and have to go out when it’s still dark, but the feeling having a city just for yourself is wonderful. And the photos are people free without any extra editing.

From my travels, the only spot until now I never really seen completely empty, was the Charles bridge in Prague. Even between 4 and 5am, when almost everything is empty, the bridge just isn’t (that is, if the weather is horrible, there is a chance that it will be :)).

The first photo here from the Prague metro, was taken at 6am on Sunday, there was absolutely no one around at that time.

2. Take a long exposure

This can work during the day, but works much better and easier at night. The trick is to just use a long enough exposure (at least 30s) to blur all the people. As the camera captures light, everything that does not emit light, can be captured only if it reflects enough lights into the camera. So if the people move enough, they are not long enough on one spot to be capture completely, or when it’s dark enough, at all.

If you want to try this during the day, you will of course need a strong enough ND filter, or you will not be able to get a long enough exposure. Also, if the scene is just to busy, you will end with a big blurry mess instead of people. This may work fine for you sometime, but may not.

3. Take multiple exposures

The last way you can use, is to take enough photos (with the same settings) so you every spot in the photos people free at least in one of them. This can be 2 photos, but it can happen that even 100 is not enough. It really depends on the situation. If all the people move, you may get lucky, and with just few shots have enough. If people stand around, it can be even impossible.

This is sometimes easier in HDR, as you take multiple shots either way, so you have more photos to work with from the start.

Once you have the photos, you can either:

Passing red busesTry blending them manually

Just load them all into Photoshop layers, add a black layer mask to all but the bottom one, and then using a white brush, paint in the needed parts from the top layers. So for every person in the bottom photo, find a layers where that spot is empty in one of the other photos, and paint it white on the layer mas. Can take quite a while, but you get a nice quality results. In this photo from the Tower bridge in London, I used two separate exposures which I blended manually, to have no people visible.

Let Photoshop average the photos

One of the hidden features of Photoshop, is the ability to perform mathematical operations on a group of images. In this case, if one uses median, on enough photos, it may result in a completely people free photo. Again, this is not guaranties, and if there is just too much movement, it will not work. Be warned though, this can be very computer intensive if you try to use it on many photos at once. To do this, follow these steps:
– load all the photos into layers (if you don’t know how, check out this guide)
– select them all (click first, hold shift, click last)
– choose Layers/Smart Objects/Convert to smart object, all the selected layers will be grouped into one smart layer
– choose Layers/Smart Objects/Stack Mode/Median to choose the median mode
Now, you will see if it worked or not.
UndergroundThis one is from the Prague Metro.

4. Use Photoshop retouching tools

The last option and the one that can be the most labor intensive is to just use Photoshop tools. The content aware fill can help in most cases (just select what you need removes, and hit Shift+Backspace and choose content aware) but sometimes it’s just not enough. What you need to do in those cases is:
– use the clone stamp tool. Don’t forget you can use the tool on a new empty layers, so you don’t affect the photo directly.
– paste over other parts of the photo, or parts from a second photo. My preferred process is to select a bigger part than I need, copy it to a new layer, move it to the required place, and then use the mask on that layer, to soften the edges, so it blends nicely into the background.
– remember to take advantages of symmetry. I you have symmetry in your photo, you can copy part of one side, flip it, and the use it on the other side. In this second photo of the Prague metro, I mirrored the left side, to remove the few visible people on the right.

And that’s all for this guide, in case you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

There is a lot of software one uses in photo editing, and in todays post, I will go through the ones that I use all the time, and will try to bring links to all the articles I posted over the last years about them into this one post :)

I will also put them in order in what I use them, and will include the alternatives that you can use, or that I use some of the time. There are of course more alternatives, but one can’t know everything :)

Additionaly, if you are interested to know, if you are able to install the respective software more than once with a single license, check out this article Can you install it more than once?

1. Lightroom

I can’t imagine starting with a different program than Lightroom. Over the years I tried few alternatives, but none of them can replace Lightroom in my opinion. It’s just so great for organizing, quick edits, edits on multiple photos and similar. It of course can be slower, but what can I expect when I have over 100 000 photos in my library. Still, if you are just starting with photo editing, this is the place to start. As the features are all in one place, you wont have to search for hidden stuff as in Photoshop. And with just few sliders, you can make your photo much nicer.

Lightroom tips

To make you start easier, here are few guides I wrote specially about Lightrom:
Organizing the Lightroom catalog – how I organize my Lightroom catalog
Quicker process in Lightroom – how to apply the most basic edits right by import
11 tips for Lightroom – 11 various tips for Lightroom
11 more tips for Lightroom – more various tips for lightroom
HDR in Lightroom – how to edit 32bit files in Lightroom (a little side note, this guide needs an update, as you can now merge the files into a 32bitt file directly in Lightroom)


2. PhotoMe

This is a small tool that can be very helpfull sometimes. PhotoMe allows for the editing for RAW files exif data. This is needed if for instance you are doing a HDR bracket series panorama, and you made a mistake in one of the files exposures and now you can’t combine the shots. For more check out this post Editing the RAW exif data and you can download the program for free here.

3. PTgui

Third software I use regularly is PTgui. Of course I don’t use it all the time, only by panorammic shots. From my experience, it gives me the best results in combining shots into panoramas, while still supporting HDR brackets. I prefer it to others mostly for it just being more straight forward and easier to work with. Also the speed is a big plus.

For PTgui I posted these two articles:
Few tips for PtGui – various tips how to make your work easier in PTGui
Combining photos for HDR panoramas – how to make HDR panoramas in PTgui

You can find more about PTgui on their homepage and also get a trial version there.

The biggest alternative here is Autopano Giga. While it gives more fewatures and more options, it’s also more complicated and harder to start with. Of course both can create great results, but both work a bit differently.

For Autopano Giga I posted this guide HDR panoramas with Autopano on this blog. You can find more about it on their Kolor website.

Oloneo Photoengine

4. Oloneo Photoengine

Next on the list is my HDR tone-mapping software of choice. Again I choose Photoengine, due to the quality of result, speed and ease of use. It’s perfect for beginners, as you really get most results just by sliding one slider (more on this in my Photoengine review). Realy the best place to start with HDR.

You can find the following articles on Photoengine on this blog:
Few tips for Photoengine – various tips for Photoengine
Batch process in Photoengine – how to batch process photos in Photoengine
More detailed Photoengine workflow – my personal Photoengine workflow

For more info and a trial version, you should go to the Oloneo website.

The biggest alternative here is Photomatix Pro. It’s also a great HDR tonemapping software, but can be a bit harder in the beginning and can overwhelm you will all the sliders and features it supports. Still, with some practice, you can get really great results from it. Check out my review for more about it.

You can find my guide on how to use Photomatix pro as a part of my HDR tutorial here Combining and tonemapping your HDR photos and get more info and a trial version on Photomatix website.

5. Bridge

Bridge is more an addition to Photoshop, that some photographers use more as a Lightroom replacement, as it has some organization features. For me it’s more an entrance to Photoshop, as it allows to use multiple photos as input to Photoshop. Either its batch processing or loading files into layers, it just makes it easier.

6. Photoshop

Sooner or later you will just have to go with Photoshop. It just is the standard for photo editing. Especially if you start getting into layers and luminance masking. Not the easiest software to master, as it just has so many features, but with time you get the hang of it. You can check out the post about my beginnings in Photoshop for how I started.

For more check out these articles:
How to use Photoshop masks – the basics of Photoshop masks
Few tips for Photoshop – various tips for photoshop
Loading exposures into Photoshop layers – how to load multiple exposures into photoshop
Most useful blending modes in Photoshop – blending modes I find most useful when editing photos
11 my most used Photoshop shortcuts – what shortcuts I use the most

I looked around for a Photoshop alternative, but I don’t think any of them are on the same level. Still, you can check out Gimp, Afinity Photo or Photoline, if you want to try something else.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

7. Nik Color Efex

Let’s continue with the plugins. The Nik Color Efex pro is the most used in my editing. It gives a huge range of filters and presets to edit your photos. It’s a part of the Nik Collection, and you can find out more in my review of Color Efex Efex (and you can find review of other parts on the Review page). It’s a little sad that after Nik was purchased by Google, it looks like all development stopped and there was no update in a very long time. Still, get it while you can (I don’t trust Google not getting rid of pro tools in favor of more amateur stuff). You can find it and more info about the Nik Collection on their page here.

You can also find Few tips for Color Efex Pro article on this blog.

The biggest alternative to Color Efex Pro is Topaz Adjust from Topaz. It also can be bought as a part of a bigger collection, or separately. Some of the filters it offers are very similar to the ones in Color Efex, but in my usage, it mostly fits better when you are going more for artistic edits, instead of realistic. You can check out my review of Topaz Adjust here, or have a look at their website for more information.

Another possible alternative is the Macphun Creative kit, but this, as the name states, is only if you are using a Mac computer. You can find information about that on the Macphun website.
Noise reduction

8. Imagenomic Noiseware

So let’s continue with another plugin. This one, is my favorite to use to remove noise in my photos. There are of course many more ways how to do it but this is the one I’ve been using for years, and been very happy with it. You can read a bit more about it in my review or in the post Few tips about noise reduction. For more information, you can also visit the company website here.

There are many alternatives, and almost each plugin collection includes one. There is Dfine in the Nik collection, Noisless in Macphun Creative kit or Topaz DeNoise from Topaz. Most offer trial version, so you can easily try them all out and choose the one that best fits your work-flow.

9. TK actions

While not technically a software, I still thought I should mention it. TK actions are a set of Photoshop actions with their own panel, made by Tony Kuyper. There are very helpful if you are using luminance masking and other, quite advanced techniques of photo blending. They also include actions for web sharpening, which I’ve been using for all my photos for years. You can find much more about them on Tony Keuper web page here.

The biggest alternative here is the Raya Pro actions panel from Jimmy McIntiere, which while it provides most of the same features, does it a bit differently. You can find more about Raya Pro and other Jimmy’s tutorials on his web-page Shutter Evolve.

10. Caesium

Another of the small programs I use on every photo. Caesium is a program that can compress you images greatly, without loosing much of the quality. I don’t use it directly on the photos you see, but on stuff like embedded thumbnails, the big header and similar. So in places where I want the loading to be quicker and I don’t require the maximum quality. You can find more about it in this post How to quickly compress your photos and download it for free from the creators website.

One of the alternative is JPEGmini which provides very similar functions. You can find about it on JPEGmini website.

11. Picasa

The last software I use in photo editing is Picasa from Google. Not that I use the organization par of it, I just use the quick photo viewer. In my experience it has been the fastest photo viewer and I really like that that is the only thing it does. I don’t need any special function when just looking through image files. The only big downside is that it only sorts photos by date, so no change for going through them by name. You can download Picasa for free from their website here.

The most popular alternatives are either InfranView or AcdSee, but as I mentioned, both provide much more functions, which I don’t need, and it just makes them slower. But feel free to give them a try :)

And that’s all for this list. Sorry for it being a long post today, but there is really a lot of stuff. You can of course be using quite different software, and leave a comment if you have some great tips.

Page 11 of 26« First ...1011121320... Last »
Subscribe to my newsletter and get a free Capturing fireworks ebook.