You usually want fairly hard-edged brushes with retouching tools, otherwise you’ll get unwanted blurring along the borders of your retouching areas. But small amounts of feathering can help make transitions smoother and the retouching less obvious. Try setting the Feathering in the Spot Removal Tool to 40 as a starting point, then modify it if necessary. And in keeping with Lightroom’s complete flexibility, you can adjust the feathering after the fact: you can place a spot or add a brush stroke, then adjust the feathering of that area to see the effect of different feathering amounts.
As I said, this is a small improvement, but a helpful one, and something worth paying attention to if you’re a Lightroom user. Naturally 5.2 is a free upgrade if you own Lightroom 5.
And while we’re on the subject, I’ve found the Advanced Healing Brush to be extremely helpful. This is a new capability added to the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom 5.0, allowing you to brush over an area you want to retouch instead of using a series of discrete spots. It’s made my retouching in Lightroom more efficient, and allowed me to use Photoshop less and stay in Lightroom more. I’m curious about whether others have also found this new feature helpful—let me know how you like it.
— Michael Frye
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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.