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10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid

Here's a list of ten mistakes that are easily made when taking a photo and how to avoid them.

| General Photography

10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid: Tripod in use

1. Blurry Photos

Not matter how good the scene in front of you is, if you press the shutter and capture a blurry shot, the image will lose a lot of impact and you'll be disappointed with the results. There are quite a few reasons why your shot could be blurry including camera movement, working hand-held with slow shutter speeds and not focusing correctly. A tripod, or some other form of support, can help combat the blur created by the first two points as your camera will be locked in one position while you shoot. To further reduce the risk of shake spoiling your shot it's worth using a remote release or even the camera's self-timer function so you're not actually touching the shutter button when the exposure begins. If you have no other option but to work hand-held in a low light situation try upping the ISO value on your camera to increase the shutter speed.

2. No Focal Point

If it's not quick and easy to figure out what's the subject of your image actually is it's probably worth retaking. It needs to be easy to understand what the photo is about and this applies to all genres of photography.

3. Not Checking The Edge Of The Frame

If you don't check the edges of the viewfinder when taking your shots you can end up with images where your subject has being cut off at points around the edges. You could also have the problem of surrounding objects such as branches and other unwanted objects actually distracting the viewer from the main point of focus as they've edged into frame.

10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid: Scotland

Photo by David Clapp


4. Washed Out Skies And Underexposed Land 

Landscapes are a popular photographic subject but one of the problems with shooting a landscape is that the sky can end up looking washed out or the foreground can appear too dark.

This happens because the sky tends to be brighter than the land you're photographing so if the land appears correctly exposed the brighter sky will appear washed out and lack interest. The opposite can happen too where the sky is exposed correctly but the foreground appears underexposed. The easiest way to fix this problem is with a Graduated ND filter.




5. Subject In The Centre Of The Frame

Generally, sticking your subject in the middle of the image won't create a very interesting composition but by moving them just a little off centre you'll have an image that's much more interesting and balanced. We said generally at the start as this rule can be broken successfully when used in the right situation. If shooting a vertical image try moving your subject up or down a little rather than further to one side.

10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid: Flower


6. Subject Too Small In The Frame

To create a stronger shot with impact it's important that you get closer to your subject. Take birds, for example, they are really tiny so unless you use a longer lens to give you a shot where they fill more of the frame they'll be lost in the environment that surrounds them. So, unless what's surrounding your subject adds to the image in some way, remember to get closer.



7.Photographing  Buildings Too Close

When photographing buildings we generally want to get the whole structure in shot which means most stand and point the camera up to get as much as the building in shot as possible. However, by doing so, this causes straight, vertical lines to slope inwards (converge) which can result in the building looking rather odd. To prevent this you need to, ideally, be lined-up with the centre of the building but as this isn't possible with most structures, the best thing you can do is step back as far as you can but do keep an eye out for objects that could distract the viewer as a result of doing this. 

10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid: China



Photo by David Clapp

8. Not Checking The Horizon

When you have a cracking sunset or picturesque vista in front of your lens it can be easy to forget to check the line dividing the land and sky in your shot but by doing so, you could end up with an image that looks like it's about to slide out of frame. A wonky horizon can really spoil a shot but by spending some time checking the frame before you hit the shutter button, it can be easily rectified. Most cameras now have a grid overlay feature which you can use to line the horizon up with or check the bubble level found on most tripods (if using one). Some cameras now also come with bubble levels or you can purchase one and place it on the hotshoe of your camera. There are ways you can also correct the horizon in image editing software but it's always best to get it right in-camera if possible.

9. Missed Moment

Whether it's giving up too soon, not having your kit out in time or simply missing that shot because you were a split-second too slow, not quite getting the perfect shot is something everyone has struggled with, but there are a few things that can help increase your chances of capturing that shot next time you're out with your kit.

1. Do you research – Knowing what type of feed a particular bird likes or when a specific spot in a National Park looks at its best will give you a head-start when it comes to capturing that perfect image.

2. Set-up in plenty of time – Be in your location with plenty of time to spare as you don't want to miss the opportune moment because you were still setting your kit up.

3. Anticipation – This isn't something that'll come straight away but with practice you'll learn when that moment you want to capture, such as a guitarist jumping in the air at a gig, will happen so you can press the shutter in plenty of time.

4. Be Patient – Just because an animal hasn't appeared straight away or the sky doesn't look quite right over your chosen landscape doesn't mean it won't appear / improve.

5. Increase Your Chances – If you're capturing wildlife or action / sports images switch to continuous shooting (burst mode) so you can take several images per second (depending on your camera) and select the one that produces the best result.

10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid: Devon

Photo by David Clapp


10. Empty Skies Or Foregrounds

You may be stood in front of a picturesque mountain range with a superb sunset behind it but if there's a wide open space in the foreground, there won't be anything to guide the eye and hold the attention of the viewer. Having an object in the foreground can help balance the shot, give it a sense of depth and stop it appearing flat, too.

When it comes to the sky, unless it's really interesting, you'll probably want to shift the horizon line up to minimise the amount of space the sky fills. 

10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid: 10 Common Photographic Mistakes To Avoid:





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bwlchmawr Avatar
bwlchmawr 11 32 1 England
24 May 2014 8:10PM
Great article. One of the best I've read on this site. Of course, one or two "rules" are made to be broken but this is pretty sound advice, particularly no.3 which is often neglected.
Canonshots Avatar
Canonshots 12 206 13 United Kingdom
29 May 2014 9:39AM
Sound and sensible advice well expressed and well presented. There aare some significant omissions, though. Incorrect choice of white balance is another very common mistake that might have been mentioned. Another is failure to take account of the direction of the light, so that the main subject ends up in deep shadow. Altogether a very good article, nevertheless.
Manassh233 Avatar
29 May 2014 10:21AM
Nice rticle. I am enlighted. Thanks.

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