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Cleaning anything in general is quite a good habit; Especially when it comes to our cameras.
Ensuring a clean camera helps not only with its longevity but also when it comes to getting the best possible output.

Camera Cleaning Kit:

This is a crucial part of any photographer’s kit. They generally consist of:

1. Air Blower (To blow out loose dust settled on any surface of the camera)

2. Brush (To brush out some of the more stubborn ones)

3. Cleaning Solution (To properly clean sensitive areas of a camera like the lens, the LCD screens and so on)

4. Micro Fibre Cloth (To efficiently clean the lens or sensor surface without leaving marks behind)


One important issue most of us photographers (professionals and hobbyists) face is the presence of dust. Be it dust on the sensor, even on our lenses! As careful as we may be, in the small time frame that we expose our sensor directly to the outside while changing lenses, for instance, a few specks of dust somehow manage to sneak in and accumulate on the sensor! We may not realize this then but at some point we begin to notice the weird looking out- offocus spots in a few of our images. Then comes the time wasted on photoshop removing these specks of dust one by one. Prevention, after all, is better than cure, isn’t it?

The sensor is perhaps the most crucial component in a camera. So cleaning it needs to be done with the utmost care and attention. An important point to note before we begin cleaning the sensor is to employ the “Mirror Lock Up” feature in your camera. DSLR cameras come with a mirror that ultimately reflects the visuals entering the lens to the view finder. This mirror is placed right in front of the sensor.

The tools most commonly used for this purpose come as part of a general camera cleaning kit. For the sensor, this becomes the brush and the air- blower.

Here’s how to use these tools to clean out your camera sensor properly:

Hold the camera face down. This is so that the dust falling off the sensor falls directly out of the camera.

Using the air blower at a safe distance from the sensor, begin to relieve the sensor of any dust.

You may notice that even after doing so there’ll still be fewer, more stubborn specks of dust sticking around. This is where the brush comes in handy. Gently use the bristles to brush against the sensor and take out any residual dust that may remain.

Note:  The sensor is quite fragile and needs to be handled with a lot of care. If you find it difficult to remove certain specks of dust from the sensor, take your camera to an authorized service center to have it professionally cleaned. Do not try to forcefully clean out the sensor as you may risk damaging it.

Remember that this method is useful even when it comes to cleaning our lenses. Cleaning kits also come equipped with microfibre cloths and a solution to help keep our lenses clean. Having first employed the air- blower and the brush to take out dust, spray the solution onto a small portion of the micro fibre cloth and begin to clean the lens using a circular motion. Following this, take a dry portion of the microfibre cloth to wipe away whatever may be left of the solution on the lens.

And voila! In your hand is a clean camera ready to record some beautiful images!

(Still think there’s room for improvement with your photography despite a clean camera? LLAOnline’s Get Creative Photography Course is for you!)

The key to getting better at photography is, simply put, practice and understanding.

When you observe certain good photographers out there, you’ll notice that anytime they start to photograph, they rarely stop in the middle to review the image on camera. In fact, they rarely even look at the screen after having tweaked, for instance, the shutter speed or the aperture. It’s like they know exactly what happens to the image with every setting they change without having to take another test shot.

When we try it, however, our fingers go immediately to the delete button because of how bad the image seems and then proceed to change the settings all over again and take multiple test shots until we get the right exposure! (PS, this is what I call Playback Photography: because you’re constantly playing back the image to see if you got your settings right)

Photographers back in the day did not have the luxury of reviewing every image before clicking the next one and they were all the better for it! Because this meant they had to study, practice and understand the effect of changing the settings which, most importantly, meant they had to understand light.

How then do we go about practicing and honing this skill? There’s an interesting way to do this. All we’ll need is some chart paper roughly the size of our LCD screens and some tape. So here’s an assignment for you, tape the chart paper to your LCD screen so you have no way of reviewing the image on camera and then, happy shooting!

Spend a week going around town photographing various subjects in various settings all the while consciously making use of your camera settings. At the end of each day, copy the images to your computer and see how you did. This practice will teach you where and what aspect of your photography you need to improve in. It also helps you  know what to change and how much of what setting to change in order to get the desired output. Rather than rolling the dial around until you get the desired effect through the Live View. Soon enough, you’ll reach a point where you learn not to depend solely on the LCD screen but, primarily, on your understanding!

“So today’s assignment was about visually experiencing the aesthetics without even looking into the camera’s digital screen. This experience was created by putting up a piece of black paper on our camera’s LCD monitor so that we would look into the viewfinder and compose our images without the digital renders on our LCD screens. The experience taught us that it’s not just a click of a button that makes an image, a lot of thought needs to be put behind creating every single frame.”

Sagun Lunia (Batch 2019-20) 

“This assignment was really challenging, to make it even harder I used a 50mm lens where my focal length will be limited. I knew I would have a hard time in getting the image focused as I always use touch auto focus in live view. This assignment helped me a lot in observing things around me. I really enjoyed it and want to do more of this!”

Baby Santhiya (Batch 2019-20)

“In today’s digital world, the key factor for image making, that is the aesthetic part of framing, often gets lost when the photographer focuses on the technicality on the small LCD screen on their camera. We often overlook small details when we capture a photograph solely based on the digitally rendered image on the screen. So, in this uniquely designed assignment, we covered our LCD screen and framed our images through the viewfinder with immense attention to details. And the exercise helped us to move from our trial and error method of image making onto a better grip on our photographic skills.”

Arka Prabha Das (Batch 2019-20)

(Show us how using this method worked for you and tag LLAOnline!
Time to get creative with LLAOnline!)

I was on holiday with my family in Darjeeling a few years ago and one of the many popular spots there was known as Tiger Hill, a beautiful spot on the top of a hill to watch the sunrise from. It seemed the view was worth waking up at 3am in the morning for a lot of people because, having reached the spot, what welcomed us was quite a crowd standing shoulder to shoulder, wrapped up in jackets and shawls, eagerly awaiting the sunrise. Nonetheless, it was dark but, to the east, we could see a faint glow of light gently making its way above the horizon. The sunrise was imminent.

As the first hint of the sun slowly made itself visible, silhouetted figures of jittering teeth moved ever so slightly in its direction seeking warmth, perhaps, from the warm glow of this ball of fire. As did we until I noticed, somewhere to the north, the tiny outline of the world’s third tallest mountain, Kanchenjunga, being lit up by the rising sun. I immediately made my way through the crowd and set up the camera. No sun in the frame, just the mountain and the view. I was tempted to go back and try to photograph the sun rising above the horizon but I knew it’d be worth it, waiting for the sun to work its magic on these mountains; and how magical it was!

Little by little, the amber glow on the mountain grew increasingly vibrant… subtly contouring it’s every crevice. In the background, I could hear the ‘oooh!’s and ‘aah!’s as heads began to turn towards the mountains gracefully bathing in the glory of a new day. And that was that, Holi’day’ made!

This experience was a major turning point in terms of how I looked at sunrises and sunsets. While I had spent most of them staring in awe at the sun in the sky, I’ve made it a point since to take a look around and see how the rising/ the setting sun tells us a story on the canvas that is this beautiful earth!

So the next time you find yourself all settled in, with the frame set and awaiting the sunrise, try and see how your surroundings can tell you a story of the dawn of a new day… not just the dear sun!

(Put up pictures from your next sunrise/ sunset shoot and tag #LLAOnline! Time to get creative with LLAOnline!)

Shawn Stephen

I’ve spent nearly all of my life in the Nilgiris, a beautiful hill station in the South of India. With an inherent appreciation for landscapes owing to where I’ve grown up, I found myself best able to express this appreciation through photography. Which essentially is where my journey began.

A significant milestone in this photographic journey has been spending a year studying photography and eventually graduating from Light & Life Academy at Ooty. A place that has helped evolve my application of photography as a communicative medium.

This is where I currently am, at home in the Nilgiri mountains.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shawn.stephen.315

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shawnjstephen/

Website: https://www.shawnjstephen.com

Sathish, Mentor, LLA Online, grew up in a family of photographers from different generations. His great grandfather opened and managed a small studio called Omni Photo

After completing his UG in Visual Communication, He chose to be nurtured under the wings of Iqbal Mohamed, while at the same time working for two years at LLA. During this time, he understood the importance of studying Photography formally and decided to join the course in 2006.

For Sathish, an insatiable thirst to give back to society and encourage more people to take up photography, both professionally and as a hobby drives him to become a mentor at LLA Online. According to him, even though photography knowledge is readily available online, feedback from professionals, a crucial aspect in the learning process, is missing. Sathish aims to help fill this gap with LLA Online.

Here are some of his top pics from the participants work:

This photograph has a very well balanced composition. The placement of the human elements shows the scale of the tree. The colour tone and time of day gives the sense of chilly weather and the posture of both men prove it!

With one single light source, the person and the items around him are lit up!

There is also a very creative use of shutter here. The tiny dots of fire particles in motion creates a dramatic design of streaks!

Notice how the colour of the birds, its feathers and the dry branch are in the same tone! The shadows also show a lot of detail.

The shape of the branch and position of the bird complement each other and are a perfect fit with regard to the sun. If this picture was taken a moment earlier, or later, the shapes would not match the circumference of the sun!

The stories on the painted 2D wall and the photograph of the 3D subject are almost the same. The dappled lighting on the subject adds value to the story and dramatizes the shot as well.

In this picture, the hard and warm tone early morning sunlight brings out the texture of the wall and creates long shadows! The shadow is clearly defined here and the subject looking at his own shadow makes for an unusual composition.

Garima’s interest in the arts began in the 8th Standard. Since then, she religiously researched courses and colleges related to fine art in India.She worked as a visualiser and pursued her Post graduation in Digital Media, specialising in Animation, after which she joined Light & Life Academy.

Once Garima graduated from Light & Life Academy, she rode the E-commerce wave back in 2011, taking up photography assignments for various e-commerce sites and excelling in it. She opened her first studio in 2011 and did a lot of freelance work, fusing her knowledge of applied art and photography resulting in a unique style of her own. She is now based in Bangalore and is an art director, graphic designer, painter, photographer and blogger.

Garima strongly believes that Photography is an art form for the masses. LLA Online’s effort in reaching out to the masses through many different languages is what intrigued her the most! After being very impressed with the work of all the participants of the LLA Online program, she picked some of her favorites!

Glamour in Mundane

The lines are captured to show harmony in our day to day lives formed with light and shadows.

Lukka Chuppi

In India, since childhood, we play with our Mom’s saree corner (pallu) .  Colorful sarees are one of the identity of motherhood, culture and it unifies India.


When nature can be captured as an impression which then becomes symbolic.

Rippled Colors

It’s fascinating how ripples can change the tall structures made by humans and make them melt visually.

Celebrating its 13th anniversary, the LLA students became mentors for a Light & Life Outreach programme, teaching photography to the Lawrence School, Lovedale.

Ankit’s interest in photography was sparked by a DSLR gifted to him, but it turned into a raging inferno when he found himself in the mountains of Kashmir. Feeding the flames of his passion, he graduated from LLA with a degree in Professional Photography, specializing in Travel, Nature, Architecture and Interior Photography. Always a seeker of knowledge, he became a mentor of the LLA Online program, to share what he knew with people that were also passionate about photography.

Ankit was eager to see the images captured by the participants, and had this to say about a select few pictures.

Vidya Kulkarni – I love how beautifully the light from behind is lighting the leaves, hence showing the translucent nature of the leaves. Moreover there is a nice contrast happening all over the image.

Arya Sarda – This is a beautifully composed shot. Captured almost from the eye level of the subject. I like the candid moment that has been captured by the photographer.

Harsha Vardaini –Composition is spot on here. Also the colors are vibrant and nice. There is a nice catch light in the eyes of the subject that is adding so much to the image.

Hem Desai – Very creatively shot image. The slow shutter is adding a sense of motion that is so pleasing to see. Also the composition and the angle from which the image is taken is spot on.

Srikanth Chandrasekaran –This is an amazing composition. I love the fact that the photographer has not zoomed in to the subject and instead tried to show the entire scene. The lighting is also amazing.