Hot spots refer to shinny areas on the faces of the portraits that are caused by strong light reflections from oily or sweating skins. They are typically on the nose or forehead but they can appear anywhere depending on the angles of the camera, subject, and the light source. In this tutorial, I will show you a very easy way of removing the hot spots while preserving natural-looking skin details using Nikon Capture NX.

Step by step

Below is a 100% view of a photo showing an example of hot spot caused by the reflected light from the Sun.

Photo with hot spot

Step 1. We start by selecting the plus Lasso tool from the tool bar as shown.

Plus lasso tool

Make a selection around the hot spot. Make it slightly larger than the hot spot.

Make a lasso selection

Step 2. Capture NX creates a new edit step in the Edit List. Select Colorize as the adjustment for this step as shown.

Select Colorize as the adjustment in Edit List

Step 3. Click on the eyedropper icon in the Colorize Settings dialog box and sample the skin next to the selection. You may need to sample a few times at different spots to get a color that looks best matched to the surrounding areas.

Sample skin color next to the selection

Step 4. With the default opacity of the Colorize adjustment, there is no details in the colorized area. We can change that by lowering the opacity. ~70% works for this example.

Change opacity setting

Step 5. To blend the selection into the surrounding skins, increase the feature setting. Do not over do it. Over applying the feather will reduce the strength of the colorize effect and you will see the hot spot resurface.

Change Feather setting

The photo below is the final result. We got nice and even skin tones without making it look fake or plastic because we were able to preserve the skin details using this technique.

Final result

Additional notes

  • An alternative method is to use the selection brush. You can achieve the same result (or better result when you use a pressure sensitive pen tablet).
  • This technique works equally well on hot spots caused by flash or strobe. You can fix some very nasty hot spots as long as there are still details left, i.e. details are not completely blown out due to over exposure.
  • If you need to adjust brightness and contrast of the photo, you should do it prior to the hot spot removal or the hot spots may show up again when you change brightness/contrast.

Final words

This is the part 3 of the Capture NX portrait retouch tutorial series on DPTnT. I hope you enjoy reading it. As always, your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.


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