Doh! HDR Nightmare!
On the way home today I stopped to do a sunset HDR setup. Earlier in the day I had cleaned up my camera, getting rid of dust and crap that collects on the mirror. Fortunately my D300s has a sweet sensor cleaning option that I use frequently. But as any photographer knows, dust in your camera will be part of your life. Nothing shows how absolutely filthy your equipment is like doing sunset shots where lens is pointed directly into the sun. Every single piece of stuff shows up. What makes it even more pronounced is when you do an HDR mash up. As I did one tonight, I had an absolute nightmare on my hands. There were 10,000 dust spots that I had to deal with in post – sucks! In HDR, they are even more pronounced because the structures and tones of the image usually get pushed around, drawing more attention to little black dust marks.
It’s nasty to try and fix too. I use Aperture 3 and was able to get rid of them with the clone and repair tool but it took forever and it still didn’t come out as nice as I would have preferred. Trying to fix structure in clouds is liking trying to catch rain water in a strainer! ;)It’s a good lesson though in keeping your camera equipment clean – especially your lenses and the mirror. I think the main culprit of this screw up was the lens itself. It was very dusty and had junk on both the front and rear elements. As I was waiting for the HDR to render, I grabbed my cleaning setup and went crazy on my lenses. I have a really handy spin brush from visible dust which works really good, but I also stumbled across a good cleaning video on YouTube that is worth a view.
The old adage “cleanliness is next to Godliness” can’t ever be more true when it comes to photography – especially at small apertures at sunset!