Specks of Dust
First of all, let’s clear up one point: Dust on your lens will rarely show up in the photo because you’ll always be focusing much farther than the front element of your lens—the location of the dust.
For dust on your lens to be visible as specks in your photo, you’d have to be focusing your lens to an extremely close distance—even closer than what most macro lenses can do. So, any specks of dust you see in your final image most likely were caused by dust on the camera sensor.
Use your camera’s sensor cleaning function. Most D-SLRs have a built-in function that uses ultrasonic vibrations to vibrate dust off the sensor. Sometimes this function is automatic when you turn your camera on and off, but check your camera’s manual to see if it has more options.
Change your lenses carefully. You just can’t escape dust: it’s everywhere outside and yet we still need to change lenses, so it’s important to be very careful and minimize the amount of time your camera is without a mounted lens.
My method for switching camera lenses:
- Put your camera on a flat surface, so that the lens is pointing straight up
- Unlock the lens on your camera body, and turn the lens just a little bit so you can let go of the lens and it remains unlocked but is still resting on the camera body
- Remove the cap on the bottom of the new lens you want on your camera
- Hold the new lens in your right hand, and twist off the lens on your camera with your left hand
- Quickly mount the new lens with your right hand and lock it onto the camera
- Put the cap on the bottom of the old lens
When possible, avoid switching lenses in windy or dusty areas and take advantage of protected areas when you can: Switch your lenses in your RV or toad/tow vehicle.
If you must switch your camera lenses while on the trail, try to do it inside your camera bag, or at least use part of your camera bag to shield your camera and lens from the wind. Also, if it’s especially windy out, then try moving to a less windy spot to switch your lenses.
The basic strategy is to avoid changing your lens in windy conditions, where the most dust is flying around.
How do you switch your lenses?
Have you found another way to switch your lenses that minimizes exposure to dust?
Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB)
Bracketing is the intentional over or under exposure of your image.
When in doubt about the correct exposure, take several “bracketed” shots.
When you select AEB the camera takes one regular shot, then a second shot under exposed/slightly darker (-1 stop) and a third shot over exposed/slightly lighter (+1 stop).
You end up with the three images in a series with exactly the same composition but at different exposures for you to select the most pleasing one after you download them to your computer.
If you have the camera in burst mode (continuous shooting) the three shots will be taken if you hold down the shutter for a burst of three shots.
Check out your manual to see how AEB works on your digital camera. Most will allow you to change the variation between shots by different stops.
Always Have Your Camera Ready
And let’s not forget the most basic rule for shooting great photos: Take your camera with you everywhere you go…and take lots of photos.
You can’t “capture the moment” if you don’t have your camera.
Oh, and Don’t Forget to Take Lots of Photos
Once you’ve purchased your camera, digital photography is free. You can shoot as many photos as you want, and you’ll never pay a nickel for film or developing.
Never put off taking a photo because you think you’ll have better light another time. There may not be another time.
Get out there, get moving, and get busy!
The more you shoot, the more you will learn. Try out new ideas and challenge your old ones. Nobody has to see the photos that do not turn out so great. In their book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorize that the only real difference between being great at something and being only average at it is practice. Talent often is nothing more than practice and tenacity.
If you ask any professional the secret to great photographic results, one of the first things you’ll hear is, “Shoot a lot.”
The renowned photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Yes, it’s true—you’ll wind up deleting most of them. But shooting a lot increases the odds that, somewhere in that massive pile of photos, there are some true gems.
Above all, shoot, shoot, shoot—lots and lots of photos!
You never know when you’ll catch that once in a lifetime shot!
There’s another life lesson that we’ve heard many times: Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Please Note: This is the thirty-first in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing
Taking pictures is like panning for gold. You do it again and again, and sometimes you find a nugget.