Tim Knifton

Cleaning the camera, the beach and macro post-sunrise

29th June 2013

Having neglected the landscapes and early weekend mornings over the last few months, we decided on a trip to Traeth Mawr on the weekend.

Primarily, for the sunrise so it was a 2:30am alarm call, a drive to collect Dai and then off to the Heritage Coast which is a coastline made up of several beaches. Traeth Mawr is a short walk from the car park at Dunraven Bay and down some paths and onto the cliffs. The sunrise was 5:02am so we had 20 minutes to set up.

Traeth Mawr is accessible through Southerndown and Dunraven Bay on the Glamorgan Heritage Coastline. The rock formations are a dream and not unfamiliar to the Jurassic Coastline. Due to the nature of the Severn Estuary the tide can be very high and can cut you off very quickly, so you need to visit here with good tide time knowledge and planning. Traeth Mawr is a truly beautiful location.

Unfortunately, it started off with a faint glow and the promise of a burning sunrise but the cloud cover behind the cliffs covered any hint of glow. But, you have to be in it to win it and its a question of luck every time.


Unfortunately, as those in the know with SLR cameras will already be aware of – dust and dirt on the sensor is a nightmare and hence, these days I spend a lot of time spot healing dust spots off my landscape photos (due to the amount of sky in the images) as is shown below.

What is sensor dust?

If you own a DSLR, you will at some point have to deal with sensor dust, whether you like it or not. Dust is a normal fact of life and it is all around us, even at our homes that we try to keep clean at all times. The dust lands on both the lens and the camera body and due to the “breathing” mechanism of the lens while zooming in/out and focusing, the small dust particles end up getting sucked into the camera body. All lenses breathe one way or another or else the internal elements would not be able to move for autofocus and zoom functions. If you use more than one lens, the dust might be able to get into the camera body during the process of changing lenses.

Once the dust is in the camera body, it will either fall on the bottom of the camera or move around until it lands somewhere. Some dust particles land on the mirror inside the camera and others might end up getting stuck on the camera sensor. So, as you can see, there are three main areas where dust might settle in:

  1. The camera mirror – when dust ends up being on the camera mirror, you will not see it in your images, but you will see dust particles when you look through the viewfinder. This one is just annoying and it can be easily cleaned either with a small brush or a blower like Giotto’s Rocket Blower.
  2. The lens exterior, front and/or its back element – while very small dust particles will not affect image quality, the larger ones and dirt/grease will decrease contrast and might even possibly degrade image quality. Always make sure that both the front and the rear elements are clean and dust/dirt free.
  3. The camera sensor – the worst case scenario, because the dust particles will show up in every image, especially when stopped down to small apertures like f/10. Cleaning the camera sensor is not easy and the process requires special tools that need to be used with extreme care.

'For Dai - unedited with dust'‘Unedited with dust and dirt’ – taken at F16.

'For Dai - cleansed'‘Edited with patch healing’

The first one is not a big deal – if you see some dust inside the viewfinder but you do not see it in your images, do not worry about it too much and only clean the mirror if it is too annoying for you. The second and third are the ones that can spoil your images and have a negative effect on affect image quality.

The solution?

I was considering getting it cleaned by my local camera shop for the same price as this kit (£30) but considering the amount of times I change lenses and although very careful with my kit, the places I change them in – abandoned buildings…. I thought I’d consider option 2……Lenspen.

I bought the lenspen loupe system from a seller on eBay.  The description off the official site (I should get free stuff for the advertising!!).

“Trusted by N.A.S.A for use on the International Space Station the SensorKlear Loupe Kit contains everything you need to keep your own DSLR camera sensor free from dust and your images spotless:

1. SensorKlear Loupe to detect dust on the sensor surface.

2. LensPen Hurricane Blower to remove dry dust.

3. SensorKlear II pen to remove those dreaded particles of sticky dust.

And remember, only the unique design of SensorKlear Loupe and SensorKlear II allows you to see and clean at the same time”


Thanks for looking in. Tomorrow I’ll post the macro photos from this trip out.

This entry was published on July 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm. It’s filed under HDR, Landscapes, Nature, Photography, Sunrise, Travel, Waterscapes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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