Clean your DSLR sensor

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Most of us are deathly afraid of even looking at our camera’s sensor, or more accurately, low pass filter.

We fastidiously clean our cameras and lenses. We try to clean dust from our sensors by using the camera’s sensor cleaning mode.  Yet, way too many photographers don’t even know if their sensor has any dirt on it until the dust bunnies show up in their images. I (GASP!) inspect and clean my camera’s sensors after every shooting session. Yeah, and I live to tell about it.

Kelby Online training has a really comprehensive lesson on sensor cleaning. I use the $24.95 plan because I don’t always have time for training so I save money by opting out when I feel I need to take some time off. Works for me.

Laurie Excell gives an excellent training session on cleaning your camera and lists the equipment you will need. The start up cost is a bit high (about $300.00) but you can spread your cost over a few months by purchasing the most important items first.

Here is my entire checklist for the complete kit and how to use it.

1. Use DeWitt Brush (B&H #VIDB) to clean the external camera.

2. Micro fiber cleaning cloth and lens cleaner to clean lens front and back.

spray lens cleaner on cloth and not the lens

Clean the LCD panels as well.

3. use q-tip to clean metal mounts on lens and camera

4. Use goose neck flash light to inspect the bottom of the mirror box

Amazon BLL07BK

5. Use sensor loupe  (B&H # VISL7X) to inspect the rest of the mirror box.

6. Use chamber clean and swab to clean the mirror box

B&H #VICCCK for the kit.

7 make sure you have a fresh battery in the camera

Place camera in the sensor cleaning mode

Inspect sensor with sensor loupe

if you find any dust activate the camera sensor cleaning mode

if that does not work use the Giotto Rocket blower to blow dust away – You can also use one of those spray cans full of air that everyone tells you not to use. If you use the spray can, keep the nozzle about a foot away from the camera and go for short bursts. I have done this many times but I also use the rocket blower because it never runs out of air and is easy to take along on trips.

B&H #GIBAL

Re-inspect sensor with sensor loupe

The above items are probably the most important steps. You can do a good job with just the above steps and items.

The following steps and items will help you do a really good job cleaning your camera.

8. If there is still some dirt on the sensor use the arctic butterfly

(B&H #VIABB724)

Swipe across sensor gently one time

Re-inspect with the loupe

9  If you still have some dirt on the senor use sensor clean solution and green

swab (B&H # VIS1516G) with sensor clean solution (VISCL)

gently give one swipe in each direction and then toss the swab Use the swabs only one time and then throw them away.

10 Use smear away to get rid of oily residue (VISAW)

You might get some smearing so use step 9 again

11 Sensor brush wash VISBC

The upshot of frequently cleaning your camera inside and out is that you will feel more confident that your sensor is indeed as clean as the lenses. It does little good to have ultra clean lenses and a dirty sensor. I have always been paranoid about changing lenses when out in the desert. Yes, I still change lenses inside my vehicle whenever possible. But by using the above equipment and steps outlined, I know that I am starting each shooting session with a clean camera inside and out.

I highly recommend (I do not receive any money from Kelby training) signing up for at least one month of training and watch Laurie’s course a few times. You won’t regret it.

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More Speedway Photography

Bringing out the racer photograph grossinger photographyWhen I spotted this car being brought out from the top of the trailer I knew I had a funny caption. Of course the Barnett Harley-Davidson team was very professional and did not drop off the deep end.

Click on image for a better view

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I photographed this with the Nikon D5000 and my walk around lens, the Nikkor 18-200mm. ISO was 400 because this was late in the afternoon and with a lens aperture of f/9 I was able to shoot at 1/320th. The vibration reduction on the Nikkor comes in really handy for this kind of shooting.

dirt track racing photography grossingerClick on image for a better view

The races started around 7pm, so it was starting to get a bit dark. I took this picture with the Nikon D90 and set the ISO to 3200. I don’t worry much about high ISO settings with my Nikons because the noise even at ISO 3200 is very low. My advice is “don’t sweat the ISO – get the picture!” I was shooting with the 18-200mm vr Nikkor set on f/9 in aperture priority and that gave me a shutter speed of 1/500th. Some folks would choose shutter priority when shooting this kind of scene and that’s fine but I like to keep things simple and stay in aperture priority. If I want a faster shutter speed I simply go to a larger lens opening (smaller f/number). I could be perfectly happy if the only choice my camera gave me was aperture priority. The only other shooting mode I use is manual for my studio work.

grossinger photography dirt track racing Click on image for a better view

I was about 100ft or 30 meters from the action. See those mud balls on the cars? They were on me as well. It’s the price you pay. I was feeling a bit foolish about the mud balls but as I looked around there were about 10 other brave souls watching the race from this close distance and of course they were wearing mud balls as well but I was the only one taking pictures!

into the turn grossinger photography
Click on image for a better view

I snapped a lot of photos when groups of cars were in the turn, that seemed to give me the best action feeling.

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Nikon Lens Simulator

Nikon’s lens simulator

Nikon recently published a nifty web based tool that allows you to simulate how different lenses ranging from wide to telescopic and different sensor formats can interact to create different photographs. Here’s the direct link to Nikon’s Lenses Simulator
http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/lens/simulator/index.htm

Please use the provided links for your shopping. Stay safe and have a fun time with your camera.
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ARRRG! My beautiful lens has warts!

Fix your lens’ imperfections with DXO

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You buy a brand new lens and as soon as it arrives you run out and eagerly test the baby, only to discover it has warts (flaws). Lenses and cameras are like relatives, so if there is a fault you generally won’t read about it anywhere.
The Nikkor 18-200mm vr is my favorite walk around lens. It does everything! The range is so huge I can’t live without it. However, this lens does come with some features I don’t especially care for. Pincussion distortion and aweful vignetting are my least favorite features. Another problem commonly associated with the Nikkor 18-200mm is zoom creep. Most of the time this is of no consequence but sometimes, when it’s important that the lens remain at a certain focal length, the problem does become annoying.

Click on image for a full view
I photographed the garage door because of it’s obvious straight lines and nice white color. This image is straight out of the camera, all I did was resize.

Click on image for a full view
This is the same image processed by DxO Optics Pro. This amazing transformation is performed automatically, with no input from me. The software reads the EXIF data and applies the needed changes automatically. It will work with all major cameras and lenses.
Another majorly inconvenient feature of this lens is vignetting with the lens wide open.

Click on image for a full view
Most of the time this is an easy fix with the photoshop clone tool but sometimes the vignetting can be quite aggravating and difficult to fix. Run your images through DxO before doing any editing and these problems will be fixed automatically.

Click on image for a full view
Same image, straight out of the camera but processed with DxO. I have made it a habit of processing all my images with DxO as soon as I get to my computer because this software is true magic.

The problem of zoom creep is easily remedied with one of those “WWJD” vinyl wrist bands. Slip it on the lens and leave it there. No more zoom creep. I have applied this same fix to my Tamron 200-500mm lens and it works perfectly for both.

Click on image for a full view
Instead of “WWJD” I had them imprint the bands “NIKON” to make it look official.
For car shows, some landscapes and other odd images I often use the Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye. I love the effect, so usually I do not care about “fixing” the fisheye look.

Click on image for a full view
I personally like this effect when used on interesting buildings as well as cars.
However, if you do want to “fix” this really cool effect then DxO comes to the rescue once more.

Click on image for a full view
DxO lets you have it both ways and for a lot of people this elimates the need for one lens.
I hope this short article is of help to you and makes photography a bit more fun.
Please use the provided links for your shopping. Stay safe and have a fun time with your camera.
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Today’s Poppy Shoot

Photographing Poppies

The poppies have returned to El Paso. It’s our sure sign of spring. I have been counting the rainfall all winter and finally knew that we would have a bumper crop of poppies.


So, we packed up the dogs and the camera gear and headed out for the poppy fields.

I planned on using the Nikon D90, and Nikon D5000 with the Tokina 11-16mm, the Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye and of course old standby and do everything, the Nikon 18-200mm zoom.

I think I got some really good results with the fisheye and it’s this lens I want to talk about first.

It’s aperture range is from f/2.8 to f/22. At f/22 you get an incredible depth of field.

This picture perfectly illustrates my point.


ISO 400 f/20 1/640
What do you think about this picture? Awesome lens or what?

The lens is extremely small and light. It only weighs a scant 10.7 ounces and is 2.5 inches around and 2.5 inches long.

This is one fine lens and I’m still wondering why it took me so long to buy it.

Here is another picture:

ISO 400 f/20 1/500

I initially visualized using the fisheye for car shows and for special effects but I have so warmed up to this lens I now use it on any subject that is close. It’s minimum focusing distance is a scant 5.5 inches and it gives a true 180 degree view.

My final picture below was taken with the old standby, the 18-200mm zoom. I use this lens for everything. It was the first Nikkor I bought and for good reason. It’s 18-200mm range pretty much takes care of 75% of the shooting.

ISO 400 f/11 1/640 112mm

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