Mistake symbolized by a hammer hitting a screw and a wrench turning a nail

12 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Taking a memorable photograph requires a deft touch from the artist. There are numerous elements that you need to combine successfully to create an outcome that everyone will love. If you make even one mistake when composing your picture, you may end up producing a useless result.

    There are times when a photography mistake can create something incredible. Relying on errors to produce something is a hit-or-miss process. A better option would be to learn how to avoid the need to make corrections in the first place.

    If you’re ready to take your photography skills to the next level, then these are the photography mistakes you will want to avoid.

    #1. Blurry Photos

    If the images in your photographs are blurry, then there are two primary reasons for this outcome: your focus wasn’t dead on, or there may have been an unexpected movement.

    That movement could occur because of your subject matter or actions that you take while using the equipment.

    When you hold a camera while taking a picture, the downward movement of your finger can cause your equipment to shift a little.

    Even the autofocus mechanism can cause a slight vibration which could generate blur if you’re using a slow shutter speed.

    If your subject is moving, then use a continuous autofocus setting on your camera to eliminate the blur in the image. When you’re unsure about the potential for movement, then a hybrid mode (like AI Focus for Canon cameras) gives you some flexibility.

    For images that are not moving at all, then stability and a one-shot setting, like what Nikon offers with AF-S, will help you to produce a fantastic picture.

    Or you could simply use manual mode to focus and get the picture just how you want it. Granted, this will require quite a lot of practice but it’s worth it.

    #2. Too Much Contrast

    Every camera handles contrast a little differently. You will need to get to know your equipment before you can begin avoiding this photography mistake.

    High-contrast images look more realistic in the final shot, but they can also look unrealistic if you have too much of it. The same can be said if there isn’t enough contrast for the image as well.

    When you capture images in RAW, some extra contrast is necessary because the final shot will look a little flat. You must pay attention to the sources of light for the image to determine if you need a small boost or not.

    If you’re taking a black-and-white image, then get a color shot first. When the colors look realistic, then the grayscale will look fantastic.

    Any time that you’re unsure of how much contrast is needed, as a general rule, you should turn it down a little instead of cranking it up.

    #3. Incorrect White Balance

    Light sources come in multiple colors. Many photographers (especially beginners) treat it as one generic hue instead. We might see white colors when light is available, but the camera will pick up the different tones that are available.

    If you are shooting in daylight, then you will require a different white balance than if you were taking the shot during an overcast day. Pictures that involve incandescent lighting need an alternative approach when compared to outdoor images.

    You can sometimes see these color tones when taking a test image. Light indicator tools can help you to know if cool or warm hues are available from your sources.

    Avoiding this mistake is easy. If there are more blue tones in the image, then reduce the white balance settings to create a natural result. When the colors offer more orange hues, then use an increase instead.

    This issue can also receive a correction during post-processing if you shoot in RAW instead of JPEG.

    #4. Bad Lighting

    When you start taking pictures for the first time, the focus of your work tends to be on the content you wish to capture. Thoughts about lighting do not come into the equation. That’s why you can end up with images that have too many shadows, two-dimensional aesthetics, or multiple patches of light that take away from the picture.

    Photography should be about the amount and direction of light you have before considering the content of your image.

    Natural light is at its best in the twilight hours of dawn and dusk because of how it interacts with the world. You have different directions, colors, and brightness levels that offer a fullness to your image.

    You can replicate this effect indoors with reflectors, light diffusers, softboxes and photography umbrellas to create an image with colors that pop in realistic ways.

    Some photographers can get lucky with a great shot without considering the light conditions. If you want consistency in your work, then avoid bad lighting at any cost.

    #5. Red Eyes

    Red eyes happen in photographs because a bright light source, usually from a camera flash, reflects off of the retina to create this coloration effect.

    The easiest way to correct this issue is to have the people having their photograph taken to look slightly away from the lens. This direction will cause the eyes to catch the flash at an indirect angle, reducing the chances of this mistake happening.

    You can make the room brighter if you are shooting indoors to correct this issue as well.

    You may also set your flash in burst mode sometimes instead of one solid flash when taking a picture. If you turn this feature on before taking the picture, then it should resolve this problem for you without additional corrections.

    If you continue to struggle with this issue, then try moving the lens and the flash further apart from one another while diffusing the flash light. It creates the same effect as when someone looks slightly away from the camera lens.

    #6. Chromatic Aberration

    This common mistake causes an optical problem for an image because the lens was unable to bring all of the color wavelengths together on the same focal plane. Different colors travel at faster or slower speeds as they approach the camera.

    When it occurs in a photograph, you will usually see a purple hue along the edges of the image or bordering the subject matter in the photo.

    The easiest way to avoid this problem is to manage your focal length. You will want to avoid a wide-angle zoom and work within the capacity of the lens to create the preferred result. Avoid zooming to the maximum position of your lens as well unless there is no other option.

    Then put a stop down on the aperture. It depends on the lens that you use for the exact amount, but you will want to avoid using a wide-open setting if you keep seeing those purple hues in your images.

    #7. Subject Distance

    If a subject is too far away for your camera to capture, then it will appear as a framing issue in the image. You will create a photograph which appears unbalanced. Unless you have a zoom lens that can change this issue for you, there is only one solution: shoot a silhouette instead.

    Having a telephoto lens can help with this issue if your camera allows for its presence. If you’re using fixed equipment, then avoid your maximum magnification because it will cause pixelation. That’s why a silhouette image is your best option.

    When you have a small subject image that you wish to silhouette in a photograph, then it is usually necessary to set a slightly higher level of exposure. You’ll want to give the image just a touch of extra light to help it stand out.

    The opposite works if you have images that are too large for a silhouette. If you underexpose the image, then it will create a realistic outcome.

    #8. Off-Color images

    There are several reasons why the color could be off in your photograph. The most common issue involves white balance, but it could also be caused by lighting problems, dispersion issues, an incorrect contrast setting, a shutter speed that is too fast (or too slow), and several settings issues that are unique to the equipment that you use.

    Most cameras work with an f/stop of 8 to 11 to create a sweet spot for color saturation. Use a standard ISO 100 with an autofocus setting to see what you can create.

    If the image looks too dark, then add some light to the area and test again. When it seems too bright, then reduce your exposure settings and then retake. You may need to shift some color settings on your camera as well.

    Your flash can cause problems with color as well if you receive a hard, direct reflection. Try retaking the image at a slight angle to see if the problem improves.

    #9. Low Resolution

    You can fix this problem by changing the type of file you create when taking a picture. Shoot in RAW instead of creating JPEG files with your digital camera. It will make an immediate difference, although it does increase the size of each upload too.

    A better result occurs because the JPEG format compresses the information you obtain when taking a picture, but this action does not happen when shooting in RAW.

    You can also avoid a low-resolution image by not using the digital zoom that is available on some cameras. Use the standard features instead to create an image that requires little post-production work.

    Some cameras create grainy, low-resolution pictures when your ISO setting is too high. You may want to switch to a manual setting if the automatic functions are not producing results.

    There may also be a resolution selection in the menu options of your camera. Make sure that it is on the highest setting as a default.

    #10. Too Much Noise

    If you have a lot of “noise” in an image, then you have pixels that are aberrant in some way. They do not represent the color or clarity of the photograph compared to the rest that you can see.

    There are two common reasons why this issue occurs in an image: your exposure was too long, or your ISO setting was too high.

    Try opening your f/stop to its widest setting. Then use a tripod if you find yourself in a low-light environment. A flash is another option to consider as you lower the ISO.

    You can also shoot in RAW format to avoid the noise because the image will be easier to correct in post-production. The compression factor in a JPEG file can even create artificial noise for some photos.

    Then reduce your exposure a bit to let the shadows pop a little more. Overexposure will almost always create extra noise in your image.

    #11. Underexposed Pictures

    If your image does not have enough light to display the content in the photograph correctly, then you are dealing with an underexposure issue.

    Underexposure isn’t a bad thing all of the time. It will deepen the color saturation of the image, which can create stunning displays when taking a sunrise or sunset image and then editing it in post.

    A pronounced underexposure issue will cause the image to become too dark. This issue happens most of the time for photographers when trying to capture a shot at night.

    You must add more light to the scene to correct this error. You can do that by adding another lighting source or a flash. You can change your f/stop setting to open the exposure more while keeping the same shutter speed.

    There is the option to switch your shutter speed as well. Try going from a 1/60 to a 1/30 with the same f/stop to see what happens.

    However, underexposure can be a good thing, as I always recommend underexposing your shots a little bit in camera, to adjust it later in post, to preserve those rich colors and details, which, if overexposed would be lost.

    #12. Overexposed Pictures

    If you encounter this issue, then you have too much light coming into your photograph. You’ll need to reduce how much is recorded to correct the problem.

    You can try to move to a shady spot if the sunlight is blanketing the scene that you’re trying to shoot. If there is direct light that is harsh, then a cloth or reflector can help to reduce the impact it has on the final image.

    The f/stop can stop down to help you some here too. Try moving from an 8 to an 11 to see what happens when using the same shutter speed.

    Adding additional speed to your shutter might help as well. If you’re shooting at 1/30, then move up to 1/60. You can even go as high as 1/125 to let less light come through.

    One Final Thought About Photography Mistakes

    With the invention of the digital camera, it became much easier to learn how to take fantastic photographs. You could begin to experiment with the settings on the camera, test each result, and then shift gears until you obtained the perfect image.

    These common mistakes usually happen when a photographer rushes through the process of creating an image. If you take your time, compose the picture, and then shoot from several different angles, the results can be a lot better.

    Recognizing these errors is the first step toward improving your photography skills. Now take the second step by correcting them, so that your artistry shines through with every shot you make.