To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn


in Daily updates, Photography

This afternoon was so bright that – sitting with my curtains open in Library Court – I felt like I was back on the red couch in our kitchen this summer, or perhaps at one of the bare wooden picnic tables in Fairview Crescent during exam time. Unable to resist the aesthetic, I spent a while reading the Murakami book from Tristan. Most recently, the protagonist has intentionally lowered himself down into the bottom of a well, in the middle of a Tokyo suburb. The light of the afternoon and the ideal of the story both remind me of stealth camping expeditions planned and executed in Pacific Spirit Park: concealing a small tent somewhere amongst all the foot and bicycle paths, then watching it get dark absurdly early under the heavy coniferous canopy.

My computer monitor – usually the bluest light source in the room by far, contrasted with cheap incandescent bulbs under yellowed plastic covers – looked positively sepia toned, by comparison with the afternoon skylight.

Camera trouble

Something very annoying has happened to my Canon A510 – the camera on which all the blog photos are taken. In the bottom left area of the frame, when the camera is held horizontally, there is a dark splotch. At first, I thought it was dust on the lens, but a thorough cleaning hasn’t even moved it. It seems to become larger when focused on a distant subject and darker when a smaller aperture is used. My thesis, for the moment, is that it is dust on the sensor. As such, there is no way whatsoever I could remove it, and to have it done professionally would probably cost a good share of the value of the camera. Since it wasn’t there yesterday, I can hold out the dimmest hope that it won’t be there tomorrow. That said, it looks as though I will be trying to remove it in Photoshop from all photos where it is evident (anything where it appears on a solid colour or even a simple texture). If anyone has a cunning plan to get rid of it completely, I would be highly grateful.

There is a second, smaller and less noticeable, patch in the upper right corner. A third, even less noticeable, one is right in the middle. All three have been edited out of today’s photo.

[Update: 31 May 2006] Whatever the splotches are, they seem to have been growing steadily in visibility. Since cleaning the sensor seems to be impossible, I will just have to put up with the problem until I get a new camera. Care to help?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

B February 8, 2006 at 6:48 pm

If you don’t know if your sensor is clean and want to check, here is how to do it. Put a lens on your camera, set focus to infinity, set exposure compensation to +1, set the aperture to its smallest value (largest number), at least f22, f32 if you have it. Now hold the camera in front a uniformly illuminated target and take a shot. Look at the image. Do you see dark spots? If so you have dust.

Milan February 8, 2006 at 7:03 pm


I would have expected you to know that the A510 is not a dSLR, hence I have no option but to leave the (fixed) lens on. Other than that, I’ve done as you suggest.

Looks like dust to me. How very annoying.

Anonymous February 8, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Here’s a thread about this question. Looks like it’s pretty rare and just about impossible to fix.


B February 8, 2006 at 7:26 pm

Same problem

“looks like a fungus ball on lens system the biggest enemy of the optics get it serviced and cleaned.

next time around keep a silica gel bag in your camera pouch or atleast keep your cam where humidity is not much.”

Milan February 8, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Just maddening. This looks like the end of my photos of the day…

Milan February 8, 2006 at 8:01 pm

Including all taxes, I spent C$273.55 on my Canon Powershot A510. Since September 7th, 2005, I’ve taken 2423 photos with it (including many far too bad to put online). The raw data from the camera occupies 4.16GB of my iBook’s hard drive.

If we take today to be the day’s of its effective death, that works out to about 11 Canadian cents per photo. I suppose that’s not too bad, though I would have expected the thing to survive rather longer sans dust or mold on the sensor, whichever it may be.

I really don’t know what I should do at this point. I suppose I can ask my mother to buy me some nice film and bring it for the Malta trip. She could then take it to Lens and Shutter, have them use the included processing to scan it, and then mail me the Photo CDs.

Perhaps I can find the way to use the ugly splotches artistically in photos of the day…

Anonymous February 8, 2006 at 10:18 pm

Regarding the mold possibility, did you leave the camera in an unusually warm and wet place for a considerable length of time?

Milan February 8, 2006 at 10:38 pm

Well, it was in my jacket pocket for several hours and then on my bookshelf for the night. Some heat and moisture may have been involved, but certainly much less than it had previously been subjected to in other circumstances.

B February 9, 2006 at 1:03 am

I know it doesn’t follow the thread of conversation, but this is your song:

“Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

Change everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights and battles have begun
Revenge will surely come
Your hard times are ahead

Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now

Don’t let yourself down
And don’t let yourself go
Your last chance has arrived

Best, you’ve got to be the best
You’ve got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now”

Milan February 9, 2006 at 1:08 am

That’s actually somewhat brilliant B.

You scare me sometimes.

Meghan February 9, 2006 at 6:36 pm

That song is by Muse (quite radiohead-esque)… I quite like it, though it is something I only listen to when somewhat depressed or angry.

Anonymous February 9, 2006 at 7:13 pm

It’s called “Butterflies And Hurricanes,” I think.

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