Aperture Spot and Patch tool

Discover the secrets of the Aperture Spot and Patch tool

Spots, blemishes and messy details can spoil otherwise great shots, but you can fix them without ever leaving Aperture. You’ve probably spotted the Retouch tool on the bottom toolbar, and this does a decent enough job on minor problems, but have you tried the Aperture Spot and Patch tool in the main tools panel? Maybe you didn’t even know it was  there…?

The Retouch tool can dab away spots and smaller objects, but it doesn’t offer much control. You can leave Aperture to select the clone source automatically or choose the source yourself, but what you get is a quick, irreversible repair – in that if it doesn’t quite work, you have to undo it and try again

The Spot and Patch tool, though, enables you to adjust your repairs after you’ve made them. It’s not one of the default tools, so you’ll need to activate it from the Add Adjustment menu in the tools panel.

Aperture Spot and Patch tool

So here’s the image I’m going to try it out on. I like the colours of this autumn leave against the wet pavement, but there’s some distracting rubbish around it, including that large blob of chewing gum on the right – yuk.

01 Increasing the contrast

Aperture Spot and Patch tool

This step isn’t actually part of the repair, but I like to demonstrate the effect of this slider whenever I get the chance. Aperture’s Contrast slider works differently to others – it does push up the highlights and increase the midtone contrast, but its biggest effect is in the shadows. It’s not scared to clip the shadow detail, and while that might upset imaging purists who think histograms should never be clipped, it does your pictures a real film-like richness.

02 Adding a vignette

Aperture Spot and Patch tool

The Vignette effect is another of my favourites (you’ll need to open it from the Add Adjustment menu). A vignette helps to frame your subject, concentrate attention on your focal point and stop your viewers’ eyes from wandering out of the picture. I usually do any adjustments like this before I use the Spot and Patch tool since they can often disguise distracting details quite effectively on their own.

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