Photography is an art form that relies on the eye of the creator. Through the use of various settings and light conditions, it is possible to create spectacular results.
There is also the possibility that the image one eventually creates will look nothing like the image that was envisioned. It is easy to fall into some bad habits when pursuing this medium.
If you’re a photographer that is trying to improve your image outcomes, then these are the bad habits that you will want to start unlearning right away.
#1. Not Shooting in RAW
If you are using a compression format for your digital images when taking photographs, then you are losing data. Shooting in RAW gives you the chance to produce a higher quality image because it contains all of the data you recorded with your camera equipment.
It’s easier to correct issues with the image when shooting in RAW as well, because you aren’t dealing with the data loss from compression.
Choosing this option will smooth out your image as well because the camera records brightness levels with greater accuracy. If you are shooting in JPEG format, then you would only have access to 256 levels of brightness.
Shooting in RAW offers a minimum of 4,096 levels of brightness.
You can also shoot in 12-bit or 14-bit with this option, whereas a JPEG image is only 8-bit.
Because there is more data available to you after recording the image, RAW files offer better detail, editing options, and a professionally-looking print.
#2. Laziness with the White Balance Settings
Have you ever noticed an image that seemed like it looked like an exact duplication of what you would see in real life? That outcome was possible because the photographer took the time to work on their white balance settings… that and some heavy-duty post editing.
Light sources are not equal in their hue or tone. You will find a range of blue to orange tints available depending on the conditions present in each environment. Adjusting your white balance settings to eliminate the various temperatures that are unwanted in the image will help you create authentic images.
Many photographers use the automatic setting on their camera to create a point-and-shoot experience. Although this approach can work at times, it is also a lazier approach to take when you want to create an excellent image.
The tungsten setting can help you shoot under incandescent lights. Sunlight settings can create a neutral background. You can also manually set your balance to add blue or orange to the image as you snap the picture.
#3. Not getting the lighting right.
Lighting is what will turn you into an excellent photographer or cause you to wonder what went wrong. You must pay attention to this element every single time you take a picture.
There are times when you must add light to an image to help it stand out, which is a service that a flash or photography light, coupled with a photography umbrella or a softbox can provide. You may wish to block a light source for some pictures as well.
Here are some of the rules to follow when taking photographs to ensure that you can start getting the light right every time.
- When you have a broad light source available, then the image is going to be softer. Narrow light sources will create the opposite effect.
- A closer light source will also offer softer light, whereas one that is further away will make a harder impact on the image.
- Diffusion will scatter a light source for you, generating a photograph which offers a softer tone to it.
- When light bounces off a surface like water or a mirror, then it will create a diffusion effect for your image.
- When you have a falloff effect from a distant light source, then it creates a dimming impact on the rest of the image.
If you want to emphasize texture in an image, then make sure that you offer lighting from above, below, or the side. Front-lighting will have the opposite effect for you.
#4. Composing Poorly or too Quickly
There are times when you must take a shot quickly because you only have a moment to capture something special.
Many photographers choose this approach to every image they take. Instead of taking the time to compose the shot, evaluating it from different angles, the method is closer to a point-and-shoot technique.
Even a broken clock is right twice per day. Taking some fantastic photographs with a fast composition process is possible, but less than desirable.
If you want to experience consistency in your work, then look for the possible distractions that could be in your photograph. Think about what it would look like if you moved closer or further away. Take the time to scan the images of your frame.
Then take shots from every angle. When you begin to produce your prints, you may discover that your first impression might not have been your best one.
You will also want to take a vertical shot in addition to a horizontal shot – or vice-versa. Having two different perspectives can help you to find something magical when you begin to process the images.
#5. The Problem with Chimping
Chimping is the process of checking your LCD screen after taking a shot to see if it is something that you like.
Although this habit of reviewing every image can help you to determine if a shot was good, it can also cause you to miss something critical that you might want to capture. Imagine being a sports photographer during a game. You see something incredible about to happen, so you snap a quick shot. As you review the image on your LCD screen, something else occurs that would have made for an amazing picture.
Chimping takes your camera out of position for the next shot when there are rapid changes in an environment. If you want the perfect sunset photograph, then this habit is something that won’t set you back much.
If you work on street photography projects or in sports, then this habit could cost you a significant payday.
The easiest way to stop this habit is to turn off the LCD screen from your menu choices within the camera settings.
#6. Forgetting Your Memory Cards
Nothing is worse for the digital photographer than to see their camera flash the warning, “Memory card full”
Your photography kit should always carry a spare memory card or two. This issue happens to everyone who owns a digital camera at least once, so this bad habit isn’t a judgment on the behavior. It can become a bad habit if you’re not organized with your gear.
It can also help to place notes next to your camera or in your bag as a reminder to check for the memory card. If you get into the habit of turning your equipment on before leaving, then you will know that it is available for use, but remember to turn it off before putting it back in your camera back or you’ll have a battery problem on your hands.
Another way to remember the memory card is to avoid closing the slot door when you have it out for processing work, uploads, or other needs. Although this isn’t recommended, as it could easily break but you might find it helpful if none of the other ideas work.
#7. Not Backing Up Your Images
If you want to take an incredible picture, then preparation will be the key to your success. It is an excellent idea to be prepared for the worst-case scenario every time you go out to take pictures.
Because your images are files that save on a memory card, there is always a risk that you could accidentally overwrite them. If you need to keep them on the card for later, then clearly label it to avoid this issue.
The best practice for photographers to follow is to copy their pictures to an HDD, computer, or flash drive as soon as they can. Then back them up in another way to ensure they won’t be lost. If you choose to use cloud storage, make sure that your service provider does not reserve the right to use any of the images you store there to preserve your rights.
When you back up the images, save them in RAW format for further processing. Avoid using the automatic compression tools that some software and apps have because this could impact the final resolution of your picture.
#8. Not Having Enough Batteries or Memory Cards
There was a time not so long ago that the batteries and memory cards that digital cameras use were incredibly expensive. Photographers working on a tight budget would operate off of one set of each as a way to get by until they earned their next paycheck.
Nowadays batteries are basically a non-issue. You can purchase a set of batteries for your camera for less than what you might pay for lunch. Memory cards can be bought in sets of two or more so that you always have an extra one along for the ride.
If you know that a photo shoot is going to happen soon, then check your camera to ensure the card and batteries are inserted as they should be. Look to see if your batteries are carrying a full charge. Then throw extras into your bag anyway in case something unexpected happens.
Being in the habit of always charging your batteries whenever you clean your equipment can help you to avoid this issue altogether.
#9. Shooting with a “Fix It In Post” Mentality
Although digital alterations to photographs are better today than arguably ever before in history, that does not excuse the behavior of failing to check the quality of your composition when you are on a shoot.
You should always check the exposure histogram of the image. Check for crookedness, then remove any clutter, dust and smudges that might get stuck on your lens.
It can help to create a mental checklist that you go through each time to ensure that you are fixing the image before you make it to post.
Take a test image before you begin the full shoot as well to see if everything looks good. Although you don’t want to stare at your LCD screen all the time, this feature can help you to understand if a shot is aligned correctly.
#10. Not Wanting to Look Foolish
It can take a lot of work to get a great shot. You sometimes need to perch at different angles or go unique places to get that image you’re envisioning.
It is okay to feel ridiculous when you are working as a photographer. Someone might get a cheap laugh because you’re bunched over at an awkward angle, but they will also appreciate your efforts when they see how incredible the final shot is because of your efforts.
Some photographers struggle to take pictures of people they don’t know. Because many regions have privacy laws in place that prevent you from using their image without consent, it is necessary to speak with people to have them sign a model release agreement.
This process will help you to build relationships and avoid embarrassment while working.
It is okay to feel a little nervous before a big job. Embrace that feeling because it will help you to create something incredible.
#11. Getting Too Comfortable with Your Knowledge
Never stop the learning process. Your skills as a photographer should be better tomorrow than they are today.
Comfort is a bad habit to experience because it forces your work to become stale. What once felt fresh is no longer interesting because you keep doing the same thing.
If you lack inspiration, then try to take photos at a location you have never visited before. You could go on a road trip to document your journey. Even having a conversation with a loved one about your struggles can be enough to open the floodgates of creativity.
New information will forge a pearl of more profound wisdom in your work over time. Since you’re reading this, it is safe to assume that you want to push yourself forward some more.
Expand your knowledge whenever you can, then share it with others. You will find that your work benefits from teaching just as it does from learning because it reinforces the principles you’ve learned already.
#12. Oversharing Your Pictures
Photography is fresh when the perspectives are different. Anyone can go to Alaska to capture a picture of a bear catching a salmon in its mouth or take photos of a stunning sunset. When you see the same image in a portfolio more than once, then it speaks to a limitation of your work.
You must be bold when sharing your work. Take a risk that someone will not like the work that you did instead of settling for repetitive images that you think everyone will enjoy.
The goal of a portfolio is to show off how incredible your work is right now. If you try to please everyone, then you might find yourself working for no one.
Choose the best image that you have for each category. You might run the risk of offending someone with your work, but it is a small price to pay compared to the bad habit of being a one-trick photographer.
Let your personality shine in each image. The rewards will come sooner or later.
Photography is a skill that anyone can learn. These tricks can help you take your work to the next level if you can put away the bad habits.
It’s essential to remember that there is a difference between a mistake and a bad habit.
There are times when you may not get the image right the first time. If you learn from that circumstance to avoid repeating it, then you can create some amazing images in the future.
If you continue to do the same thing repetitively even though it creates a poor image, then that is the formation of a bad habit.
Photography can become the love of your life when you keep these issues at the forefront of your mind. Start to unlearn these habits today if you’re guilty of practicing them, and you’ll see a noticeable improvement in your work.
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