It never ceases to amaze me the number of fuzzy, low resolution, badly exposed and poorly composed photographs that people take. Whether they’ve all been brainwashed to click that button as fast as possible or are just finding the reality that few subjects sit still, too many people forget that the camera is a tool for them to capture their life’s moments. This article explores five mistakes that every photographer can avoid.
1. Low resolution
Wanting to squeeze every last bit of space you can on a memory card, you select to take photos at a lower resolution. Great if all you ever want is to email them or post them on Facebook. But what if you may want to print one out, frame one, or even use them in a book? Setting your camera to capture photos at the highest resolution possible gives you maximum flexibility. You’ll be able to crop and print with confidence, enlarge within reason, make slideshows, and even shrink to email. Memory sticks are an inexpensive investment for maximum flexibility.
2. One photo at a time
This is likely a carry-over from the old film days where you only had 36 frames available. Now you can snap away to your heart’s content; you even have a special function for it called continuous shutter. Not only will that increase your chances of getting one sharp photo, you may even get one with their eyes open, a lovely smile, a funny look, an inspired moment, etc.
3. Fear of deleting
Oh dear. We’ve all done it. Kept a bunch of ‘well, maybe I’ll use that one day’ photos. Really, unless it’s the ONLY image of a special event/person that you have, delete the blurry, out of focus, badly composed, uninspired, dull, etc. photos as you go along. Be brutal, otherwise they’ll pile up on you faster than you can imagine and make sorting and organizing a nightmare. Related to this mistake is the mistake of is not uploading the photographs onto a computer. It’s very difficult to properly assess the quality of an image on that tiny screen. So please, upload them frequently (and delete the bad ones).
4. Lack of practice
Ahhhh, the little green auto setting. Why do people assume that this will result in the best shot? While in many cases the results are good, a little extra work can take an OK picture to a really good—if not excellent—one. Read your manual, take an online course, practice. Find out what results you get in which conditions so you know how to best correct / take advantage. Don’t be frightened of your camera — it’s job is to capture your memories.
5. Dodgy composition
You may not be able to do anything about grandma’s floral sofa, the artwork on the wall, or the dishes on the table, but you can certainly move people to other places so that they star in the image rather than compete with the environment. Having people just sit closer together, having them sit on the floor, shifting distracting objects, adding/removing some lighting, etc. are only a few ways to quickly declutter photographs. Extra tip for group photos: have everyone keep their eyes shut until you say open, then snap.
So here’s how to avoid these mistakes. First, set your camera to high resolution and on continuous shooting mode. Then go out and buy another memory card. Next, delete any bad photos you already have (from your computer and camera). Take your camera out and practice—on anything and anyone—to see how different lighting and settings impact your results. Finally, think twice when you snap a ‘memory’ shot. A few extra moments before you click the shutter may make the world of difference to the emotion you’ll feel when you see the result.
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