Sand is not your friend.

In 2009 I made a trip to the Kelso Singing Dunes, here in Southern California.  I took, what I thought, was great care to not let my Camera (Canon 30D) ever come in contact with the sand, and when I was hiking and not taking photos I keep it in my camera case zipped up tight. Taking hundreds of photos of this surreal and beautiful landscape, It was one of the locations where its hard to take a BAD photo.
Kelso Dunes
The next day I was excited to look at the photos, and as soon as I started viewing them on my computer I was horrified to find repetitive spots in every single photo I took. Sand had made its way onto the sensor of my camera and I was heartbroken. I live by the rule that if I have to Photoshop a photograph then I wont use it. There have been times where I have bent this rule due to strength of the photo out weighed my moral objection to using Photoshop (in my work only, I do enjoy other peoples work that rely heavily on their Photoshop talents). But when you’re dealing with correcting hundreds of photos due to spots this is out of the question for me. While in some of the photos it was far less noticeable, the photos that showed the sky had the most noticeable spotting, and I love seeing the profile of the dune against the sky.
Kelso Dunes

I pulled my camera out first thinking it must be the lens and after cleaning both of my lenses and doing test shots against the sky I found it was indeed the sensor. After a little research I found some “How to clean your Sensor” videos on youtube, but I did not dare approach this, as I don’t have the funds to get the camera repaired if it made the problem worse or damaged the sensor, so I took it to Calumet Photo here in Los Angeles and got it cleaned for $60 and a couple of days with no camera.

While I haven’t found any advice or secret tips that keeps your camera 100% safe from sand or such the best advice is to never change lenses in such settings. On my trip I only used one lens all day and still was faced with sand on my sensor, but this may have been due to the type of sand at the Kelso Dunes (which is silica sand that is why the dunes sing).

I plan to return to the Kelso Dunes and other Dunes as well to photograph so I guess I will just have to learn to clean my own sensor and take brighter photographs, or keep my camera in an underwater housing at all times (kidding). I am heading to the Jungles of Southern Mexico next, I’m sure I will have another story about moister to share upon returning.

Happy Shooting


This entry was written by j.frede , posted on Friday January 15 2010at 04:01 pm , filed under Anecdotes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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