The Ultimate Shooting Checklist to Avoid Common Photography Mistakes

Have you ever worked through an entire shoot never realizing that you had the ISO set to 3200? Or have you made the mistake of not changing back after having taken a group shot with a shutter timer delay? If you, like most photographers, are guilty of such mistakes, here is a valuable checklist to help you out:

Aimed at beginners, but equally applicable to photographers of any level, this video tutorial highlights the most common mistakes that photographers make and shows you how to eradicate them from your system.

“… I have developed a shooting checklist that helps me take the best possible photos. Now, this list won’t necessarily make you a better photographer, but it will prevent you from making the same painful mistakes I have, and it will stop you from screwing up that great shot right in front of you. –Joshua Cripps

The Ultimate Shooting Checklist to Avoid Painful Mistakes

  • Make sure that the batteries are charged and your memory cards are freshly formatted.
  • Carry at least one spare battery and memory card in your bag.
  • Ensure that your camera is set to shoot RAW. After all, why give up on the opportunity to correct for some weird mistakes that you might commit during the shoot?
shooting in RAW

Set the picture quality to RAW to give yourself some leverage during post-processing.

  • Set the picture size to large.
  • Select the right shooting mode, (aperture priority, manual, etc.) and the right shot type (continuous, single-shot, mirror lock-up, etc.)
  • Once the composition is right, ensure that the tripod legs are secure, the ball-head is tight, and the quick release plate is firmly in place.
  • Pay attention to the point of focus and the depth of field.
  • Clean the front element of the lens and any filter to free it from dust, water drops, etc.
  • Make it a habit to clean the rear element of the lens and the sensor regularly.
  •  During the shoot, always make a point to check the histogram for signs of under- and over-exposure.
  • Keep an eye out for highlight warnings (also known as “blinkies”).

“Blinkies” are an indication of blow out highlights.

  • Use exposure bracketing in conditions where it is impossible to nail the shot in a single frame.
  • When looking at the images on the LCD screen, zoom in to ensure there are no distracting elements.
  • When shooting into the sun (especially important when you are shooting during the golden hour) lens flare can pop up. Use your hand, cap, or anything else to block out the offending light source.
  • Keep changing the composition to get a different perspective of the scene.
  • Linger for just enough time to ensure that you have everything covered. You never know what new perspective the changing light can bring.

And, if you are going to literally take Cripps’ advice literally, break into an impromptu jig after your successful shoot!

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