Don’t Do These 5 Things Guarantees Amazing Images.

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Don’t Do These 5 Things Guarantees Amazing Images.

 It is sad in any field when those coming up make predictable mistakes.  Some you might see coming but some happen while you don’t even notice. I see these so often when I am teaching emerging photographers. I am sure that I owned many of them when I started back in 1978. Film or digital, they are the traps of our craft.

 So here is your chance to learn from our mistakes, then dodge them.

 1.Forgetting to Check your Settings. We are in a world where light and choices rapidly change. With digital cameras, your best practice is to have a default setting that is your norm. In some brands, like the Canons, you can actually preset several defaults then with a button, reset all your preferences to your standard.

 There is nothing worse than picking up your camera for that rare photo opportunity only to find later that everything from file size to color temp was set wrong.

 Here is your best practice to avoid this. Habits. Develop the habit of checking your camera every time before a session. Develop the habit of resetting back to your default settings after each shoot where you have changed them.

 2, Leaving Too Much Space in the image. Do not be afraid to get in close, or closer. There are times when your composition requires all that space for the image to breath, but usually it does not. Your subject gets lost, if you crop it you are losing image quality when it is enlarged. Before you take the shot, consider if that space is supporting your image or if you should just crop in-camera.

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 3. Believing the Camera’s Light Meter knows Best. It does not. That is why nearly all cameras come with an over and under exposure dial and manual options.  It is a guide, a strong suggestion that in average situations is pretty good. As soon as you have a large dark or bright area like sky, a white building, white or black shirt, etc, it wigs out. The light meter tries to expose for an average grey.

 As soon as you begin shooting a scene that has large areas out of middle tonality, check a few things. Look at your histogram;is it clipped or is the full range not being used. Are your highlight areas blinking? Try moving the camera so the problem area, for example the bright sky or shirt are out of the shot, note the exposure settings, recompose with the override adjustment correcting the shot. Then refer to issue one.

 4.Forgetting About the Background.  We get so excited about what our subject is doing we get blinders on, not seeing what is happening behind them until we get the image back. The Internet is full of these “photo fails”. It can range from being so busy your subject disappears, to something disturbing going on behind them. Most common, there is an element that is affecting your exposure.

 Before you shoot, pause, do a full image sweep, check what is in the rest of the image. Can you crop it out, reduce its effect with shallow depth of field, change your point of view to eliminate it?  Having things growing out of your subject’s head will not make anyone happy.

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 5. No Focus to the Image. I don’t mean sharp here, I mean the viewer has nothing important in the image. You need a focal point.  Something that draws our attention, things that distract should be eliminated.  A pretty scene will hold no interest to casual viewers when you might be looking at it with the memory of your moment.

 Before every shot, ask what is the point, where is the interest, what is this about? Recompose until you have that in your image.

6. Over or Under Processing your Image. Yes, this is your bonus dodge. Most photographers when they start out tend to either take things too far or not far enough. The not far enough photographers are usually nervous, or believe they should not change what the camera saw. If you are shooting raw, then it generally comes out flat, by design, so you have to bring out the exciting stuff when you process it. More likely you are in Photoshop over-processing the image.  You start to tweak, then tweak some more. Your memory is on the last tweak not the starting tweak then suddenly you have a Photoshop fail. Most commonly this is in over sharpening or over applying a filter.

 For sharpening, it is the last phase you do and should be done for the output medium: monitor, paper, email, size? They all give horrible results in the wrong medium.  Those defaults in the special effects filters are usually set higher than needed so you can see the result then slowly pull back until a more subtle effect is achieved. The rule of thumb should be if you can see how it was done, like magic, then it won’t work.

 These should arm you to leap frog over the common entry mistakes or perhaps correct some habits you had not noticed you had.  I know it would have been great if someone had sped up my growth by pointing these common mistakes out to me.

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