Occasionally I have someone ask me for advice on how to improve their photography. Usually, it’s someone who has decided to take up the hobby and has been disappointed with their first efforts, but occasionally it’s an enthusiast who’s just decided they want to make it a real hobby. Part of what I love about photography is the fact that there are always new things to learn.
The great thing about this digital age we live in is you can take as many shots as you need and see the results immediately. Gone are the days of worrying about wasting film, or shooting for hours while the conditions are right only to find out later, in the darkroom, that something was off and the whole shoot was wasted time.
The most basic thing you can do to reduce your mistakes, is read the owner’s manual for your camera. Knowing how to use your equipment will reduce your frustration and minimize mistakes.
If you are serious about making you photos stand out from the crowd, these are 5 common mistakes to look out for and ways to correct them.
5. Horizon not level; This is a problem for me. I don’t know why, but apparently, I tend to lean one way or another a lot. The most basic way to correct it is to use both hands while shooting. If that doesn’t fix the problem, use the built-in gyroscope of the camera to correct it before you snap the pic.
4. White balance is off; This means your image has an unnatural color cast. If you see an image that looks very yellow or very blue, most likely the white balance isn’t right. To fix this set it based on the main source of light. Even easier is to let your camera fix it by setting it to “auto”.
3. Blurry or not sharp images; There are a lot of things that can cause this. If the shooting conditions are not bright daylight and your camera is in auto mode, you will likely have a lot of blurry images. Try using a smaller aperture. If you have a greater depth of field, you are more likely for your subject to be acceptably sharp. If your subject is moving and your images are blurry, you need a faster shutter speed. If your subject is not moving, you made just need to stabilize the camera. Use both hands. Have your weight balanced evenly over both feet. Lean against a stable surface, or use a tripod.
2. Composition is off; Pay attention to everything that is in the view finder. Don’t crop things that shouldn’t be cropped. Don’t cut off your subject’s hands or feet. Pay attention to where your subject is in the viewfinder. Try shifting your position, so the subject is in the center, then try off to the side. Is your subject too far away or too close?
1. Exposure is bad; Is your image too bright or too dark? Most cameras these days are very powerful, and can capture an acceptably exposed image while in full Auto mode. Though if you have it set to full Auto, it will try to capture an image that’s overall exposure is a neutral grey. If you are in dark conditions and you want the photo to reflect that, don’t use Auto. If you are in bright conditions and you want the photo to reflect that, don’t use Auto. Try choosing aperture priority to control your depth of field and let the camera do the rest. If your subject is in motion, you may need to use Shutter Priority and let the camera do the rest. Under tough conditions (very bright or very dark), you may need to venture into Manual Mode and take full control of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
As with most things, there is an exception to every rule. Experiment and have fun.
You can also check me out on Instagram or twitter. Just search for @shanealanartimages and @shane_pics respectively. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if there is a topic you’d like me to write about.
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.”
- Zoey Sayward