I have had the same digital camera body for a long time. I confess, I have not always been super careful about my surroundings when I swapped lenses - I have done it in fields, on the beach, on benches at the zoo... you get the idea. At some point early in my ownership of this camera, I picked up a piece of dust on the sensor. That speck of dust has been my companion on vacations and field trips. It has traveled with me to places near and far, foreign and domestic. I have used Photoshop's "spot heal" feature to take that dust mote out of every photo I've ever posted to SmugMug. I went back through my digital archive of original images and pulled out a highlights reel of The Spot.
Here it is at the Eiffel Tower in Paris:
Here it is at the Houston Zoo:
It was with me for a night shoot of downtown San Diego:
And here it is again on a macro of an iris on campus at Rice University:
After editing The Spot out for years, I finally decided it was time to have my camera professionally cleaned. This turned out to be harder than I thought. Even though I live in the fourth largest city in the US, there still aren't very many camera repair places to choose from, and none of them are conveniently located.
I have lived (and driven) in Houston for 12 years now, and there is one place - one stretch of freeway - that no matter what day of week or time of day I drive through it, there is always something that has traffic all snarled up. It's the stretch of Loop 610 between Highway 290 and Highway 59. Both directions.
I hope city planners from around the world visit Houston to study this stretch of freeway, in a "what not to do" context. I call this area the PDST Zone - with PDST standing for "People Doing Stupid Things."
Every person with a car on its last legs, every contractor hauling loosely-lidded buckets of paint, every person transporting an improperly secured mattress or sofa, and every rancher with livestock hellbent on an escape attempt gets on this section of the Loop, does something stupid, and chaos ensues. It's as if that stretch of the road has some sort of magnetic attraction to trouble.
Google street view of the PDST Zone (maybe that explains it...):
Getting my camera cleaned and repaired cost $162, took two weeks longer than it should have, and required SIX TRIPS through the PDST Zone.
It was worth it though - the repair technician cleaned the sand out of the hinged door for the CF card slot, got all of the makeup off the hand grip, and cleaned the sensor.
I'm happy to present the most exciting photo I have ever posted to the blog (that's the texture of the paper, not dust):