I have seen the enemy, and he is…

…dust! Dust is the enemy of photos. Sensor dust, to be precise. Tiny pieces of dust that stick on your sensor.

Look at this image of model Danielle on the beach yesterday:

Now look at a small section, with slightly enhanced contrast:

See all those blurry specks? View at full original size (click through twice to do that) and see how terrible that dust really is.

And you see it when you are both:

  1. Shooting at small aperture (like my f/14 all day yesterday), and
  2. Shooting against an even surface – like the sky.

In other words, you get this on sunny days outside!

Solutions? In order of dangerousness, with the safe options first:

  • First, use the built-in dust removal function in your camera repeatedly.
  • Or have Canon/Nikon/etc do it (but this will cost money and take time).
  • Then, with a full battery use the “manual cleaning” option – the shutter stays open while you blow with a rubber bulb blower. Blow with that blower  without touching anything, repeatedly, and try again.
  • As a very last option, use liquids and special pads, but use the right liquids and brushes specifically for your camera 9ask the manufacturer if in doubt), and be very, very careful – a destroyed sensor is not covered by warranty and can cost more than the camera.

Or.. live with them, and remove them in post-production.

TIP: if you do that, do it before you crop, so that you can copy/paste the adjustment to all images with sky.


I am teaching this weekend: tomorrow at Vistek in Toronto (“Macro”), and Sunday “The Art of Shooting Nudes” in Hamilton. Book now – there is space.

2 thoughts on “I have seen the enemy, and he is…

  1. another solution : get a Pentax body. They are all weather sealed and help protect you from dust, water and other such “enemies”… There is more to this world than CaNikon…

    • Indeed there are other, equally good bodies. By dust will get in the sensor area of any camera, even a Pentax, and even my Canon 1Dx, which is weather sealed very well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *