It’s OK to make mistakes. In fact, our experience is all about making mistakes and learning certain lessons out of them.
So by listing these silly mistakes most photographers have probably made at least once, we’re by no means scoffing at anyone. Our goal is to draw your attention to some issues you can easily avoid if you approach your daily routine with more conscience.
Here are some of the most foolish mistakes that can ruin your even most deliberate photo project and how to avoid them.
1. Shooting without a battery
Well, you cannot really shoot without a battery in your camera. But you definitely can head out without a battery in your camera. Things like these happen in a hurry when you are traveling to new places and you have too many other things to attend to. The days of AA batteries are over and you may find yourself helpless if you went hiking to some remote place without all your gear.
Always shoot a test photo before you head out!
2. Shooting without a memory card
Every DSLR camera has a removable battery and a removable card. If it is possible to forget to bring a battery to the shoot, it is definitely possible to leave your memory cards behind. To make your shoots fool-proof, turn off the “release shutter without card” setting – at least your camera will refuse to shoot without a card. Otherwise you would discover halfway through the shoot that you have been clicking away with no card!
Also, how about always having a memory card in your wallet?
3. Holding your camera when mounted on a tripod
We have seen absent-minded beginners holding on to their DSLR cameras even when mounted on the tripod. Your love for the camera is much appreciated but it is probably not a good idea to be doing that as it defeats the whole purpose of having a tripod in the first place. Your hands will still transfer the vibrations and ruin your slow shutter speed captures!
4. Using automatic focus-point selection
Using auto-focus is recommended, but letting your camera choose where to focus is one of the stupidest mistakes you can come across. Automatic focus point selection may help when shooting birds in flight with servo focus enabled or when you request your 5 year-old son to click a picture for you, but apart from rare situations like those, it is going to give you useless photos.
5. Cleaning your lens with your clean shirt
If you wipe the front element of your lens with your “clean” shirt that you have been wearing for just about 2 hours into a shoot, you are technically scratching your lens intentionally with micro glass pieces (dust particles) and applying the oil from your body to the lens so that fungus may grow well on the surface.
It is always better to buy and carry a $0.5 microfiber cloth for your $10,000 lens!
6. The flash can light up the ocean
No it cannot. The usual flash cannot properly light up anything that is a few meters away from your camera. The next time you go shooting images at the beach in the late evening or shoot photos of the full moon, do remember to keep the on-camera flash turned off.
Sometimes when your in-camera flash pops up, it is still possible to shoot amazing photos in that environment without a flash. Always make it a priority to bump up the ISO a little bit and keep your hands steady or rested on something when shooting away in low light.
You should turn to the on-camera flash as the absolute last resort.
Because post processing is just as important as shooting images, it deserves a fair 40 percent of this article. So the following 4 ways are all about being stupid post-shoot.
7. Believing post processing photos is not true photography
To begin with, if you do not post-process your images at all, rest assured – the April Fools’ Day is your day!
The debate has always raged amongst photographers if editing photos is something that photographers should do. But you should remember that editing and post processing are completely different things. Post-processing is all about treating your photos right so that they reproduce the scene right. It is the same as developing a film from a film camera – it is not cheating at all.
Editing is manipulating your photos – you can have your own stand on that, always.
8. Editing JPEGs
Have you been shooting JPEG images because it “saves space on your hard disk”? Have you been editing the JPEG images to “improve the quality”?
The RAW file formats are provided on DSLR cameras for strong reasons and if you have been processing JPEGs straight out of the cameras, you need to remember that JPEG files are already processed by the camera and then sharpened and compressed using lossy algorithms. If you re-edit them, you do the same all over again. Remember, you can only make a JPEG worse!
Exporting a file as JPEG should be the very last phase of your editing process.
9. Using free software
Not that we are against free and open source software. If you have been paying thousands of dollars for good gear, why try to stick with free software that do not usually treat your photos right?
There are great image editors out there that are free – such as GIMP. They surely have great image processing algorithms in place. But they do not provide a smooth interface and intelligent backup or cataloguing options that can help double your productivity.
If you can afford it, you really need the best premium software to do your images justice.
10. Backing up on your own computer
Making multiple copies of the same thing at the same place cannot save your content! The most it can do is help you retain a copy in case you accidentally hit delete and clear up your recycle bin too – which does not usually happen. What usually happens is your entire computer or hard disk fails, after which you may have to spend a couple hundred dollars on getting your stuff recovered if you did not maintain a physically separate backup of your valuable content.
Always consider an external hard drive or cloud backup plan if you care for the content you create.
Over to you
Dare sharing your own mistakes? Share your experience with fellow photographers in the comments!