There are so many errors that beginner photographers make on a regular basis that we could dedicate a full blog post to each of the mistakes made. In this post we do a quick overview on the most common errors made by beginner photographers.

1) Shoot in RAW.

A lot of people get their first DSLR and know about JPG from the internet, they also don’t want to deal with the process of shooting RAW and the workflows that come with it. This is definitely a mistake!

Always shoot in RAW, even if it means shooting RAW and JPG at the same time. Reason being, it gives you more control after the image is taken. For example, if some lighting changes occurred and your white balance was off you will have the ability to change it.

The Dynamic Range of the image is higher with the RAW setting (it’s usually between 12 and 14bits) where JPG is 8bits not giving the color depth. With RAW you can reprint pictures as many times as you like, whereas JPS kind of is like getting your prints done at a drug store and throwing away the negatives!

2) Don’t forget to change settings when the lighting changes

Many photographers forget about this very often. Speaking from experience here, I myself forget to pay attention to the settings when I’m shooting outdoors, especially when it’s cloudy.

I usually set the images up for the lighting and start shooting but once the sun comes out everything gets brighter, and I forget to change the settings making the images blown out.

Make sure to check your images all the time so that you can make the correct adjustments i.e. when the model or subject moves into the shade or when a cloud moves over the sun etc. All of these things change the light, not just the amount of light, but also the color of the light.

3) Pay attention to surroundings / horizons (no poles out of people’s heads)

When you’re getting into a shoot and you’re moving around it’s easy to pay full attention to your subject. When you get back to the computer and are looking through the images, you find that there is a pole sticking out of the head of your subject which can make them look like an alien. Obviously you can crop or edit it out, but it is so much easier to move around when taking the pictures. Ensure that you look at each image before taking it as this will save you the agony of editing a bunch of pictures afterwards.

4) Blurriness / handshake / bad settings.

This goes back to number 2 as well. Be sure that your settings are good enough to make sure you don’t get any camera shake due to low shutter speed. When shooting with a long lens or in low light situations it is easy to get a little camera shake that doesn’t show. However, when you get back to the computer the images look really blurry!

The rule of thumb for this is that your shutter speed shouldn’t fall below 1/focal length (i.e. for a 50mm lens the slowest your shutter should be is 1/50th of a second). This is also for a very steady hand- I usually double it since I can’t hold the camera that still. My preference for the rule of thumb would be 1/100th of a second. Also don’t forget that third part of the exposure triangle that you can now use easily! ISO!

5) Bad Crops (Missing heads).

When taking portraits or sports photography it can be easy to pay attention to the motion or the subject and miss the edge of the frame and not pay attention to the crop. The images come out with the slightest bit of a head chopped off, or one hand is cropped just below the wrist.

Pay attention to the edges of the frame and make sure that your crops are done in a meaningful way where you’re not limiting yourself to a bad crop.

6) Fill the frame with what you like!

To extend number 5, it’s easy to move back when taking the image and think to yourself, “I’ll crop it all out later”. While this is possible, you risk losing important details especially if you fill the frame with things that you’re going to crop out later. Instead, move in closer (your best Zoom is your Feet) and change your angles. Don’t always take your images standing straight up; you want to get down on the ground and move closer so that you can fill the frame with your subject. Your photos will be so much better and you will love what you get from the images!

7) Know your camera- read the manual.

This sounds like general knowledge, but you’ll be surprised to know that many photographers don’t to this.

It can be embarrassing if you’re in the middle of a model shoot and you need to make a change to your settings and have to take a minute to fiddle with different menus and buttons to figure out how to do it. It makes you look unprofessional yes, but the bigger thing is that you could miss a photo opportunity or even worse, not find the setting at all and not be able to take some images!

Read your manual, play with your camera, know your settings and the layout of your camera so that when the time comes to make that change you can do it without even thinking about it!

8) ISO- Don’t be scared of 3200!

Last but definitely not least, ISO is your friend! When most people think of ISO, they think back to film where 200 was the normal, 100 was very smooth and 800 was very grainy!

This was true, back then, and in the early days of digital, but sensors have gotten so much better. Digital cameras can shoot at 3200 ISO and still have extremely good photos. Not to mention the post processing to fix any amount of noise that you have.

If you have the choice between a blurry image due to low shutter speed or a little bit of grain from moving up to ISO 3200, I think it’s a no brainer! Hand holding a 1200mm f/10 lens at ISO 6400 with a shutter speed of 1/2500 is an amazing feeling when you see the tack sharp image (though your arm will not thank you for it!