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I’m guessing money is short (it certainly was for me at that age) but you need flashes rather than continuous light. LED panels are great for things like product photography or video, portraits not so much for the simple reason you noted with either they melt your face or they aren’t bright enough. My suggestion would be to get two yongnuo yn-560III flashes and a single rf-603 transmitter. This is my standard recommendation unless you have money to step up to canons RT system which really isn’t much of an option given that you are part of the dark side 🙂

You can pick up a YN-560 III for about $70 off ebay, the transceiver maybe $15 and four sets of sanyo eneloop batteries for about $50 with a charger. Basically $200 for that lot. Cheap light stands and umbrellas won’t cont very much either, probably a bit over $100 if you buy the cheap stuff. If $300 is too much in one go, get one set of flash, light stand etc and it’ll be $160. One umbrella is enough to light lots of things and an excellent place to learn how to use light creatively. The bare flash will work quite well outdoors as well, I often stick one in a tree for example and it provides a bit of fill for more interesting light.

Go and read strobist.com lighting 101 for some inspiration. Once you know how to use off camera light and when to use it you can really make your photos stand out and will be vital for you if you want to continue with a career in photography.

As for cleaning the camera, first step should be to get a rocket blower. Turn the camera with sensor facing down and open it up with the manual cleaning mode and blow a number of times on the sensor from a safe distance. Wet cleans aren’t that difficult but you have the potential to screw up badly if something goes wrong, hence try to blow it out first.