If you’re anything like me you’ve made plenty of mistakes as a new photographer. Below are some of the more common photography mistakes people make:
- Gear Acquisition Syndrome – Stop worrying about whether your gear is the “latest and greatest”. Upgrade only when you truly need to upgrade and don’t fall into the trap of buying something just because it is newer than what you already have. If you feel your gear is lacking first confirm it is actually your gear and not your technical skills and understanding.
- Only taking your camera when the weather is good – Bright sunshiny days don’t provide the best light for good photos, especially in the middle of the day. Direct sunlight is too harsh as it creates dark shadows. On a sunny day, the sky is often so bright that it’s overexposed. There’s ways of working around harsh sunlight, but if you can go out on a cloudy day, or in the golden hour just after sunrise or just before sunset. Try taking your camera out on a stormy day, it’s amazing the mood and atmosphere you can create in your photos.
Moraine Lake as the clouds lifted after an unseasonable summer snowstorm.
Framing your image:
- Being too shy to get in close – new photographers tend to stand back too far, instead of filling the frame with the subject or trying multiple perspectives. Don’t be afraid to get in close. For that matter, don’t be afraid to lie on your stomach, stand on a bench or whatever it takes to get the right perspective.
- Trying to fit everything into your photo – your photo needs a subject, something you are focusing on, but it doesn’t need everything you can see. Be selective and only choose what is important to the composition.
- Cutting parts of your subject out of the shot – feet, hands, steeples. Try to make sure you capture all of your subject. If that means taking a few steps backwards or changing your lens then take the time to do so.
- Not considering what is behind your subject in the photo – When photographing subjects with trees, electric poles and other similar objects in the background, avoid “impaling” your subject with the background objects. Pay close attention to the background when composing your shot and if you see anything that clearly stands out behind your subject(s), move around and see if you can find more suitable framing that works.
- Only using a center horizon in landscape photos – there is a time and a place for a mid line horizon but more often than not you want to choose to emphasize either the foreground or the background with your horizon either one third or two thirds up your image. Try taking several shots with the horizon in different places, you may be pleasantly surprised.
- Thinking your expensive camera will do all of the work and never learning how to use it properly – Get your camera out of auto and learn how to use the manual modes. You will have so much more control over your photos and after a small learning curve you’ll be getting better results. If you are really nervous take one photo in auto and then change out to manual.
- Not checking the settings on your camera from the last time you used it – If you’ve ever noticed your camera constantly trying to refocus when you’re shooting a still object, or that your camera won’t track the focus of a moving object, it’s because you were on the wrong focus mode. Take the time to check your settings (especially your focus mode) and review the images before moving on.
- Forgetting how to correctly balance exposure – if you are new to manual mode and your exposure isn’t correct or your images aren’t sharp, then stop and consider aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Remember aperture affects depth of field and shutter speed affects motion in the image. Try different combinations to balance the scale as there is more than one correct answer:
- When you change your aperture you are changing your depth of field. If your photo is underexposed (dark) if you increase your aperture you may correct the exposure but you will also create a shallow depth of field which may lead to problems with softness or lack of sharpness in the background.
- When you change your shutter speed you are also going to influence how motion is perceived in your photo. If you want to take photos of your kids or pets running around you need a quick enough shutter speed to freeze their motion and create sharp images.
- You may have to increase ISO to create the correct exposure, especially in low light. Don’t be afraid and try it.
- Not knowing what bulb mode is – Bulb or “b” at the end of your shutter speed dial allows you to manually hold the shutter button for as long as you need to get the correct exposure. If may be 30 seconds or it could be a couple of minutes. If you need a longer shutter than what your camera can do automatically change to bulb mode and hold your shutter down. *pressing the shutter button can produce camera shake in longer exposures so consider an external shutter release (camera app on your phone).
- Not using a tripod because it looks naff – You need a really steady hand for a one second exposure so if you’re shooting in low light or your want to blur motion (waterfalls, streams) then you’re going to need a tripod.
- Not backing up your photos – Don’t be the person who lost all of their photos when they had a hard drive failure.
- Not knowing how and when to use your filters – Circular Polarizers and neutral density filters can be fantastic filters however make sure you understand when and how to use them. I know it may seem simple but do you know when you spin the polarizer it will change your image?
- Thinking that your photos have to be perfect out of the camera and not using post editing software – I know I’ve been here, but used appropriately editing software doesn’t have to change your photo. It can just make the subtle improvements to your photo to make it look more like what you actually saw with your own eyes.