Removing Camera Dust

We met at Lower Antelope Canyon last month and both got the photographer’s pass in the morning. What was the blower you were talking about for removing dust? Also, how do you clean your sensor?

I had a great time meeting a fellow photographer during my adventures last month in Page, Arizona, and while we were exploring Antelope Canyon, our camera gear naturally got covered with a fine layer of sand and dust. Not only did I hate that gritty feel of the particles in my lens when I turned the zoom ring, but it can do some serious damage to your gear if left in there. So one of the first tasks I attended to when I returned to my car was to perform a quick cleaning, followed by a more thorough cleaning once I got back to the hotel, since it was so incredibly dusty.

To remove typical amounts of dust and other foreign matter that lands on my camera and lenses, I usually use the Giottos rocket air blower, which is a simple but effective hand-powered blower that shoots puffs of air with a good amount of pressure. The rocket blower comes in different sizes, but I just use the large one. I will use the puffs of air very liberally across the outer surfaces of the camera and the lens to cast off dust. I’ll often do this for a lens before I put the lens cap back on.

To answer my new friend’s second question, I’ve never had the occasion to actually clean my sensor, other than to let the camera go through its automatic sensor cleaning routine when I turn the camera on and off. For the most part, I’m guessing I would do more harm than good when trying to clean my sensor manually. Instead, I try to practice the art of keeping dust out of the sensor chamber in the first place, which involves being careful to point the face of the camera downward when changing lenses, so that loose dust and particles will not just drift into the sensor chamber. If I truly suspected something was wrong with the sensor surface (such as noticing the same blemishes or dead pixels on every photo I take, even after cleaning or switching lenses, I’d probably send it in to Canon for a cleaning. Here’s a link to Canon Professional Services, which offers several levels of membership:

Finally, check out the photos I took at Lower Antelope Canyon. Dust or no dust, the trip was well worth it!

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Major Prius Bumper Dent Repair

Rather than paying for an expensive Toyota Prius bumper replacement after an unpleasant encounter with a parking lot pole, we decide to attempt the do-it-yourself, armed only with a can of solvent, two hair dryers, and some touch-up paint. Half of the fun is listening to Dad’s comments!

Your mileage may vary! We were lucky that even though the dent was huge, it was easy to access the other side of it to push against. We thought about trying the compressed air trick, but the dent was so deep that we were afraid it might pop in the wrong direction!

Recorded with the Canon VIXIA HV30 (now HV40) (awesome camcorder!). Support this site by buying yours at Amazon through this link!

Kenya Photos: Gritty Edition

This week, I have some photos to show you the grittier (and quirkier) side of our Kenya trip.  These probably won’t make it out to any of our official newsletters!

We decided to share some international love in Nairobi by writing “Wash Me” in as many languages as possible on the side of a dirty bus very similar to the one we would ride for the next 6 hours into Garissa.  Only the people who can read Korean will be able to figure out why Eddie is laughing at his own handiwork.  =]

Dorothy said this scene at the pit stop between Nairobi and Garissa really broke her heart (and no, she insists she is not a crazy cat lady!).  How many stray cats do you see in this photo, threatening to scratch my eyes out if I get too near their wheelbarrow of rotting food?

I was up at 4AM to spend a little quality time with the MacBook in preparation for the talk I was supposed to deliver with Steph at a local church that morning.

Eddie and I were perpetually fascinated by the roadblocks at the police checkpoints we passed through everyday, kept there to prevent Somali refugees from making their way into Kenya.  Luckily, none of us Asian folks looked like we had been in Somalia recently.

Morning snack time at the school. It must be lonely being in the minority.

Our entire team gets busted in Garissa. Or … maybe we’re deep in prayer. Or we’re putting up the fence the blew over during the last flood. One of those is true.

This woman must be the keeper of the gardens.  She was amazing, never budging an inch from her post for hours on end. With steely resolve, she watched over … oh wait, I think she’s a scarecrow.

Want some beef?  Come to the Super Butchery!  Most of my teammates could only stay about 30 seconds before they had to leave the stench of the grisly scene, but for some reason I don’t recall being bothered at all.  And I wish I had a video of the butcher hacking away at the carcass with a machete and an ax.

Out in the Bush, you don’t see a whole lot of trash cans and recycling bins.  Okay, I don’t think I saw any.  So if you have some garbage, you can just hold on to it.  And if you don’t want to do that, then I guess you can do what the locals do and “just barn it”.   This photo depicts my “definitely not in California anymore” moment of the trip.

Faceoff: Ken vs. Mike.  I think there’s a clear underdog here.

These were the crazy annoying Acacia thorns that littered the landscape and constantly found their way into (and straight through!) the soles of our shoes.  Apparently, the thorns don’t bother the giraffes at all when they feed on these plants.

This was the saddest little dog I’ve ever seen.  Either that or he was constipated.

This older man was so weak with sickness he could not even make it to the medical camp we set up in his village, so we had to go find him in his grass hut.  Sadly, the only thing the nurse was able to do for him given our limited resources was recommend that he go to town and get some xrays.  Not sure how he can possibly be expected to be able to afford to do that…

I wanted to test out the macro lens mode on my little Canon A650, and what better subject was there than the flies that were everywhere?  I think I spent more time fiddling with the camera than I did eating lunch that day.

You know, they really need to get a break room for the hotel maids.  This was actually not an unusual scene around siesta time; nearly every floor had a sleeping maid.

Our true colors came out whenever Eddie was overwhelmed with sleep.

Zebras and giraffes were not the only things we saw a lot of during our safari…

Hideyo practices some of the effective recovery techniques learned from the hotel maids as we waited for our flight home.

So which set of Kenya photos did you enjoy more?

Kenya Memories: One Month Later

I can’t believe we’ve already been back from Kenya for over a month!   For those of you who haven’t seen any of the photos yet, here’s a selection of favorites memories and photos which I call “The Happy Collection”.  =]

Our team’s first stop was Paris!  We had an eight hour layover en route to Nairobi, so we tried to make the best of it with the French.  All I know is that if I ever end up living in France, I’m going to set up an instant photo booth at this corner near the Eiffel Tower that nobody else seems to have discovered.

We spent some quiet moments in the Notre Dame cathedral, in anticipation of the busy schedule our friend Ken had planned out for us once we arrive in Kenya.

We’re in Garissa, learning about how they dig wells for local villages so the women don’t have to walk several miles daily to get water from the river.  To make the well deeper, they actually lower someone down in the bucket (as shown in the photo) so he can send up bucketfuls of mud from the bottom of the well.

We went to check out the K-8 school that Ken manages.  Here, Steph wins the favor of the preschool kids at the school and they vote to spare her from the lion’s den.

I was deeply impressed by the “graffiti” scrawled on the dorm lockers.  I think these students are accustomed to much more hardship than I was at their age, and their faith in God is also stronger because of it.

This man was sooo happy to receive a pair of new shoes that had been donated by someone at our church.  The next day we totally saw him running around the school with them.  Personally, it was really encouraging to see the direct effect our giving had on someone.

At the school assembly, we were asked to talk about our various careers and why the students must study hard.  =]  Even though I suspect some (if not many) of the students here have never even touched a computer before, I really felt in my element as I shared about my passion for computers and teaching others about technology.

Here we are about to all cram into the back of the Land Rover for a very bumpy ride over the unpaved desert sand into the Kenyan Bush, where we would get to see a very different side of Kenya.  The man in the photo would serve as our medical staff during the trip.

Ironically, our first meal at the pastor’s house in the Bush were these self-heating APack Ready Meals similar to those used by the US Army.  They certainly get plenty hot when you mix the powdered iron, magnesium, salt, and water together!

No sooner was lunch finished that Steph was put to work.  Though she had not planned to provide any optometric services on this trip, we were informed that there was already a line forming outside to see the eye doctor!  We know of at least one older man who walked 10 miles from his own village in the desert heat in order to be seen, so how could Steph refuse?

The rest of us did our best to be useful or at least keep the villagers entertained.  Hideyo set up an impromptu origami workshop for the kids.   One thing I definitely learned on this trip is that it’s good to always be prepared to have something cool to share with others, wherever you may be.

I got to share about my Chinese-American life through photos.  Ironically, I had a number of photos in there which only solidified the Kenyan stereotype that all Asians know kung fu!

Here’s one of the makeshift medical camps that we set up in the Bush to distribute medicine and mosquito nets to the villagers.  Our medical nurse was working nonstop to diagnose problems and write prescriptions, and it was our team’s job to quickly fill the orders!  The medicines included everything from anti-malarials to painkillers to multivitamins.

As the sun set, the medical camp was wrapped up and the projection system was set up to show The Jesus Film, which covers all the basics about the life of Jesus in 2.5 hours to people who have possibly never heard about him before.  I was struck by how much more similar my surroundings were to those of Jesus’ time.  And I got a kick out of seeing a film projector running off of an electric generator in the middle of the desert!

Here is the site of another medical camp that we set up in another village in the Bush.  While they were waiting, the men sat down and had a lively discussion with Ken and Mike about Barack Obama.  (Tip: Regardless of your political outlook, you had best speak well of Obama when in Kenya!)

Kids LOVE seeing themselves in digital cameras… (I obviously didn’t take this photo.  You can tell because: 1: My body is in the background. 2: My body has been beheaded.  3: My camera’s in the picture.)

These were the cutest little sisters at the last medical camp that we set up.  They were also super quiet and well-behaved for the 3 or so hours that we were there.  We later realized they were possibly terrified of our presence.   In the photo, their daddy is trying to convince them that they don’t have to be afraid of the scary man named Hideyo who is offering them paper cranes and trail mix.  =]

One of the last things we got to do in Kenya was to plant 18 trees at Ken’s school.   To our surprise, the heavy-duty work was already done for us by the gardeners — all we had to do was put the little tree in the pre-dug hole, cover it with soil, and water it with the pre-filled water jugs!   Next time we return to Garissa, we look forward to seeing how big the Baylight forest has grown!

That’s all for this long-overdue update!  Stay tuned for the next Kenya post: “The Gritty Collection”!