The Joy of Having a Clean Sensor

The Joy of Having a Clean Sensor

(Or, the PAIN of NOT having a clean sensor)

So, I normally shoot with pretty wide apertures. I like the bokeh. Usually, I don’t shoot above f/8 or f/11. When I went on vacation, most of my shooting was in the bright daytime sun, so to make things easy, I used the Sunny 16 Rule and set my aperture to f/16. If you don’t know what the Sunny 16 Rule is, I’ll explain it below.

What I began to notice when I imported my photos is there were spots in my photos in the same place. These problems become more evident as you stop down your aperture, so what I didn’t notice before, I now noticed. I checked my lens and gave it a good cleaning and even switched lenses. Same spots, same places. That meant one thing… my sensor was dirty. Well, crap.

Photo with sensor spots

As you can see in the photo above, there are spots in my image that I didn’t want in my image because, well, they weren’t in the sky when I took my photo. So, I’ve already taken quite a few photos now and, yep, especially in the photos that were stopped down to f/16 or higher in bright daylight, there were the spots.

But, I can just remove them in Photoshop, right? Yes, I can. However, I took over 1800 photos and selected for review over 600 of those. So, even as I cull those down even more to the actual photos I want to keep, I am still having to do spot removal on quite a few photos. I won’t have that many, so it won’t be too big of an issue and I am my own client, so I’m good.

Spots removed in Photoshop

Now, if I’m working with clients that have quite a few photos, I’m on the clock. What I’m being paid has to cover not only the prints, canvases, etc., but also my time and expenses. If I have to spend even 5 extra minutes editing I wouldn’t have had to if my sensor had been clean, then with 30 photos, that adds up.

The moral of the story is… Keep your equipment clean, shoot to capture the image the best you can in camera so you don’t have to do a lot of editing. Time is Money.

Please read your instruction manual on how to clean your sensor. Most cameras will go through a cleaning cycle when you turn off the camera and may even have a menu item to clean immediately. Sometimes, you need to do more than just the in-camera cleaning. For this, I recommend you take your camera to a reputable dealer for your brand of camera and pay them to clean it, or send it in to repair. It is VERY easy to damage your camera’s sensor.

WARNING: If you decide to clean it yourself, be careful and NEVER, EVER, EVER used canned air to spray your sensor. You are almost 100% guaranteed to damage your sensor if you do this.

The Sunny 16 Rule:

According to Wikipedia: In photography, the sunny 16 rule (also known as the sunny f/16 rule) is a method of estimating correct daylight exposures without a light meter. … The basic rule is, “On a sunny day set aperture to f/16 and shutter speed to the [reciprocal of the] ISO film speed [or ISO setting] for a subject in direct sunlight.”

My Journey to CPP

I have been and am a member of the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and the PPOk (Professional Photographers of Oklahoma) and have decided to begin my journey toward attaining certification as a Certified Professional Photographer. This will be my first step in attaining my Master of Photography degree.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but I was waiting for the right time. When, exactly, is the right time? Well, I figured it is about the same as waiting for the right time to have kids. There just isn’t any time more right than any other, so I’m taking the leap.

So, I’m taking the leap, plunging ahead and I’ll let you know how it goes through updates to this blog.

See you soon!

My Favorite Lenses

Well, it’s been a while and I do want to try to keep the blog current, so that’s my goal. I shoot Nikon D7200, so all lenses are Nikon mount and this is my own opinion and experience and is not a scientific comparison.

So, I purchased a new lens recently that I fell in absolute love with – a Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC art lens. This particular lens is only for APS-C cameras with a focal length comparable to 75-150mm on a full-frame camera.

This lens has quickly become my favorite portrait and indoor sports lens. The focus is fast, accurate and tack-sharp. I used it at the Muskogee Little Theater for some shots last week and was very impressed with the results. I typically use my Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 for the theater, but I’ve noticed that sometimes my focus is a bit soft wide open, but the Sigma lens wide open at f/1.8 was much sharper.

Left to Right: Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 and Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3

However, the Tamron 24-70mm does a great job for me at weddings where I have strobes set up for the posed shots and my speedlight for the ceremony.

One of my favorite field sports lens (football, soccer, etc) is my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens. With comparable focal lengths of 105-300mm, this lens is perfect for shooting high-school sports. This has also been my go to lens for head-shots. It also is tack-sharp on the focus and, although I’m usually set at 100mm for headshots, allows me to get a bit closer if I need to.

For landscape and city-scape photography, I typically use a Tamron 16-300mm PZD Di lens. This lens opens to f/3.5 on the wide end and f/6.3 fully zoomed out, which is okay for landscape and city-scape photography. Because of the focal range, the is my go to lens for travel and vacation. Of course, I pack all of these lenses when I travel because, well, you never know. However, when I, as the Aussie’s say, go walkabout, I will take one body and this lens. The only issue I’ve had with this lens is it will tend to creep on the focal length if I am shooting down. Gravity will do its job, so when carrying, I have to remember to retract the lens and utilize the lock, otherwise my lens grows like Pinocchio’s nose.

So, yes, I have a lens for a lot of occasions, but that doesn’t stop me from a bit of lens envy at times. I’m sure you also have your favorite lenses and your go to lenses as well. The thing is, no matter which lenses you use, know your lens, know it’s capabilities and limitations – and you do that by shooting and shooting, then shoot some more.

Above all, have fun!

Jumping into Sports Photography

A genre of photography I haven’t done before is sports photography. Not that I haven’t been interested, I just haven’t really had the chance – until now.

High school football season is upon us and I have been given the opportunity to get some experience with this particular type of photography by shooting Fort Gibson, Oklahoma football games.

So, some may think you just get out there and take photos, but I am finding there is much more to it than that. One of the most important things is to make sure you keep both eyes open when shooting and watch for the ball coming straight at you. And, what usually follows the ball is a 150 to 200 pound football player running after it – and possibly over you, which almost happened to me last week.

When shooting sports, you must learn to watch the play and try to anticipate where the ball may go and which player may have it, frame the shot, focus and shoot. It’s not as easy as it sounds as I’ve found out, but I’ve gotten some pretty good shots. You can see these in my gallery.

Me and Photography

Well, thank you for visiting and bear with me as I begin my journey into blogging about photography.

When I was about 14 with a Kodak Instamatic camera, I took pictures of everything I could and spent a lot of money on film and developing. That was back when I would buy a film cartridge, shoot it, drop it off at drug store or parking lot kiosk (now you know how old I am), wait a couple of weeks and pick up the negatives and prints. Only then would I really know if what I shot was good.

I moved from that to a Petri 35mm camera that was fully manual. I set the aperture on the lens, the shutter speed on the camera, and for every film roll change, I had to set the film speed (ASA/ISO) on the camera. I had to manually focus using a split prism lens to know when something was in focus.

I HAD to know how the shutter speed and aperture worked with the film speed to correctly expose AND, I had to trust the meter on my camera to let me know if I’m exposed correctly. I had a light meter, also, but really didn’t know how to use it at the time. Now it is an invaluable tool that I use almost constantly.

I used this camera for many years and, in fact, I still have it.

After getting married, having kids, and generally letting life get in the way, I put the camera down until about 2007. I borrowed a Canon Rebel and began shooting again, mostly vacations and such. This camera, of course, had a fully automatic setting that would allow one to be lazy, and lazy I was. It wasn’t until I purchased my first Nikon that I realized that if I want to take my photography to new levels, I needed to go back to fully manual shooting, or at least use some of the semi-automatic features of the camera.

Then, I upgraded that Nikon to what I currently shoot, which is a D7200. I have nothing against Canon, but I’m used to Nikon and I have a LOT of glass for Nikon. So, the needs of each session defines what mode my camera is in, which is NEVER in full auto. In future posts, I will discuss the different modes and the ways I use them.

I hope to keep this updated fairly often and I hope you enjoy reading.