5 Photography Mistakes I Keep On Making

In Photo Basics by Rick McEvoy

I really should know better, but here are 5 photography mistakes I keep on making. Read this and learn from my experiences 5 things you can stop doing right now (if you were doing them in the first place that is of course).

I hope that by committing these faux pas to the world wide web and all you Improve Photography readers I will finally rid myself of these, quite frankly, ridiculous schoolboy errors I keep on making.

OK lets do this. And let me know if any of these strike a chord with you.

1 – Taking too many images

I dream of the day when my image capture is refined to the point where I take 20 pictures, have a quick look (no need to cull) then process and issue to the client, 20 images.

Is this too much too expect?

Maybe. But my point is this. The first image I take of a scene is 9 times out of the 10 the image I go with. It is the best composition. The other slightly different versions of the same scene are completely unnecessary.

Maybe I am just that good that one shot is all it takes?

I wish.

And another thing I have noticed when I am photographing a building (this happened over the weekend just gone) is that I will go back to the beginning and take the same picture again. Why?

I need to trust my instincts more, and go with that first image then move on. I take time composing the images, and the way I take photographs I don’t normally need to worry about exposure and all that technical stuff.

All my commercial architectural photography work is taken with my Canon 6D firmly planted on my tripod. A tip for another time but this helps my composition enormously.

So this is I guess a mistake I will keep on making, I just need to be mindful of this and be more disciplined with my image capture.

By the way – one of the things I hate the most is culling images – it seems to take me forever, even with all the tools available in Lightroom. And refer to mistake number 5 for why I cannot contemplate Photo Mechanic for culling!

2 – Resetting camera settings

A big one this, and a real pet hate. This really bugs me. And gives me an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am out on a commercial shoot.

I am on a shoot. I am in the groove taking photographs. I have my settings just how I like them.

  • ISO 100
  • AV Mode
  • Aperture F8 – F11
  • Shutter speed  – who cares – I am using my tripod and things I photograph aren’t going anywhere (buildings in case you didn’t know, and if you didn’t know where have you been?).
  • 3 shot bracketed image capture – (correct exposure, 2 stops under exposed, 2 stops over exposed).
  • Back button focus.
  • AF set on my lens.

This is how I take photographs. This means I can concentrate on the composure. The only things I need to worry about are where I meter and focus and the composition. I can forget everything else as my Canon 6D looks after that.

All fine then – so what exactly is the problem?

Me. The problem is me.

I decide to do something different – nothing wrong with that of course.

The kinds of thing I am talking about are

  • Changing everything for example to take a panoramic bracketed set of images
  • Going from bracketed capture to singe image capture
  • Change of aperture to say F4
  • Changing the ISO for a specific image
  • Introducing exposure compensation
  • Changing from auto to manual focussing
  • Or anything else that is not my default settings.

Like I said, nothing wrong with this.

But this is the problem.

Me.

I forget.

I change from my go to settings for one image – and then forget to change things back.

It drives me up the wall. This is two stops of unwanted exposure!

Interior photogrpher picture of the appliance bay at Dorchester Fire Station. This picture was taken for the architect and the main contractor.

Picture of the appliance bay at Dorchester Fire Station by architectural photographer Rick McEvoy. This picture was taken for the architect and the main contractor. And was over exposed. And is awful.

And this is how this picture of the appliance bay at Dorchester Fire Station should have looked.

And this is how it shodl have looked!

And sometime I get that horrible feeling when I realise what I have done, and the panic sets in. How long have I been shooting like this?

I thought the other day on an architectural shoot that I had done the entire shoot at F4. I hadn’t thankfully.

And the other week I set an ISO of 12800 for the last image, and started the next shoot at that ISO. I was wondering why my camera was telling me strange things.

This might sound like a basic mistake, but I literally made this last week – thankfully I was shooting at 2 stops underexposed, which my Canon 6D, bracketing and Lightroom between them managed to rescue.

I know I will make mistake number 1 – I have to stop making mistake number 2 or one day this will catch up with me for sure.

3 – Not finishing one thing before starting another

I hope that lots of you recognise this one. I buy something, let’ say a book which I have heard about somewhere, so I order it and next day it arrives courtesy of Amazon Prime. I put it on my desk giving it prominence certain in the knowledge that I will read this book then act on what I have learned.

Some time later the book, quickly forgotten, is placed in a prominent place on my bookshelf. I have a place just for new stuff close to where I sit at my desk.

And then at some point in the future, the same happens with another book. I have a shelf now full of books that I have done nothing more than casually glance through when they arrived.

This same principle applies to tutorials, articles, lots of things.

And this is one that I am stamping down on big time.

I have had words with myself, and only buy something now if I need it. I must have a specific need.

And I am even starting to look at what I have bought.

An example of this is the books I bought on Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS1 (I think). By the time I got round to them Lightroom was up to Lightroom 5 and Photoshop was I have no idea where.

Which reminds me. If you are like me

NEVER BUY ANY BOOK ABOUT PHOTOSHOP.

What is the point? There is so much in there I don’t have a hope of finding anything of use. Just use Photoshop for cleaning up images and you will be just fine – trust me.

4 – Photo Apps that I download and never use

These are the Apps on my iPhone that I have never used apart from the day I heard about them and downloaded them.

  • Photo Pills
  • Photographers Friend
  • Periscope
  • Photoshop Mix
  • Vimeo
  • Simply Stats
  • Getty Images
  • Masterfile
  • iStock
  • Keyword tool
  • Shutterstock
  • Instasize
  • Starbucks
  • Flipboard
  • Hyperlapse
  • Photoshelter
  • Lee Stopper
  • Display
  • Canon Bible
  • Spark Page
  • Trigger Trap
  • Creative Cloud
  • Behance
  • LE Calculator
  • Canon 6D
  • Tumblr
  • RAW
  • Flickr

This is ridiculous. If I delete all of these I will never miss them, and probably lose two screens of clutter from my iPhone.

But I’m not going to, am I? Just in case. I know ridiculous.

And don’t get me started on weather apps! OK now I have started I need to get this off my chest. I am in England. In England we love the BBC. But the BBC weather app?? Sometimes it says it is sunny when it is actually raining.

5 – Software

Similar to 4 above, I hear about the latest greatest thing and buy it, download and it and then don’t use it.

For 99.9% of my photography work I use Lightroom and Photoshop. In that order. I use Snapseed for quick alternative edits on my phone or iPad.

I did use Nik Silver Efex Pro until its demise, and am looking forward to its revival.

But what else do I have?

  • Luminosity masking tutorial and panel for Photoshop
  • Luminar
  • Aurora HDR
  • Affinity Photo (on my iPad)
  • On One
  • Topaz Labs
  • Photomatix Pro 5.2
  • Pantour 2.3
  • Picasa 3
  • Digital Photo Professional
  • PT Gui

OK – I did use Photomatix a bit, and also Topaz Labs. And the work I produced was rubbish.

Not the software’s fault – not all at all.

It was all down to me.

Problem is I do not like any of these programmes (can I still call them that) for one main reason – I have;

  • Bought them
  • Tried them quickly
  • Not liked the results
  • Sulked
  • And gone back to Lightroom.

Why would you buy anything and not use it? I would like to say I have stopped doing this, but I only downloaded Aurora HDR the other week – I have not even opened it yet.

Summary of my personal stupidity

That is enough about me and the mistakes I keep on making. I am going to go and sit in a corner and think about what I have done. Don’t do these things – please learn from my mistakes.

Lets all look at this again in 12 months and see how we are all getting on.


About the Author

Rick McEvoy

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I am a photographer based in the lovely county of Dorset in England. This is my Website, and I also have a weekly photography Blog. I specialise in architectural photography – well anything to do with buildings, and extend this to industrial and commercial photography which have similar requirements – stationery subjects, no people, no animals. I also enjoy landscape and travel photography. My dream job is photographing buildings in nice places, which I am working on right now. I have two travel photography websites, one which is completed called Photos of Santorini and a website that I am working on called Paxos Travel Guide