Why You Should Read This
If you’re trying to improve your photography, it helps to know where you’re going wrong.
This article will point out where you’re going wrong and what you should be doing to fix it. It’s not easy taking consistently good photos but once you get the hang of it, it becomes incredibly rewarding.
Your photos suck and it’s time to fix them.
1 – Bad Lighting
All too often, photos are taken on compact cameras and digital SLRs in inadequate lighting conditions.
Lighting is key to taking a good photo. I know it sounds obvious but a photo really is only a collection of light; this has to be good.
Pop up flashes tend to cast a very harsh light over your subject, flattening the image. Instead, off camera flashes, which can be rotated to point to a wall or ceiling, have the ability to create much more natural light.
These also cast shadows over the subject but in places where shadows would usually be, giving them a lot more depth and making the whole photo look more natural.
2 – You’re Making Excuses
Even today I was walking though London and saw a building I wanted to take a photo of but found myself thinking ‘oh well, I haven’t got my wide angle lens on, another time’.
I made myself take a photo anyway and I actually think it’s a lot stronger than it would have been with my other lens; I had to think more carefully about the photo I was taking and how I could get something interesting into the frame.
Stop making excuses and instead give yourself a challenge.
3 – Wrong White Balance
White balance is very important in making a photo look natural. The wrong WB will produce a nasty colour cast and make skin colors, among other things, look unnatural.
The most common example of this is when shooting under tungsten light – skin colour can appear almost orange.
4 – Motion Blur
Shooting in low light often requires you to make certain compromises such as having to use a high ISO. One compromise that you can’t allow is motion blur as it renders your photos unusable.
Raise your shutter speed so that it’s at least the same as your focal length:
For example, if you’re shooting using a 50mm lens on a crop sensor, your focal length is effectively 75mm, so your shutter speed should be 1/75 of a second or higher
5 – Bad Depth of Field
Often, when people get their first f/1.8 lens, (for those of you who don’t understand aperture, click here) they tend to put it on f/1.8 and leave it there.
Shallow depth of field has it’s creative uses but it doesn’t hold a place in every photo. Your photos will start to look the same and therefore cease to impress.
The same can be said about too much DoF: you need to try and find a compromise and use it when it’s best suited.
6 – Shooting at the Wrong Time
For example: Shooting in the evening or early morning when the sun is low in the sky produces much better results than under midday sun, where your photos will appear bright and harsh.
If you’re struggling to capture a scene that looks really good during the day, it’s probably because your eyes can adjust the exposure in ways that your camera cannot.
Shooting in the evening will help remove silhouettes and produce a much more even exposure.
7 – Distractions
Anything that’s not adding to a photo is taking away from it.
Think about what you’re photographing before you take it.
Ask yourself: Does that object/person add anything to this photo?
More often than not, when I ask myself this question, I end up altering my camera’s angle to take a much more interesting shot.
8 – You’re Trying to Impress Others
Shoot what you like, not what you think others will like, or you’ll never be happy.
You know what looks good, which means that you can picture a realistic target image. This mindset makes it much easier to obtain pleasing results than if you are trying to impress to the masses and, at the end of the day, you’ll be happy with your photos.
If you see other photos that you love, take inspiration from it without simply trying to replicate it.
9 – Poor Composition
If you’re not too familiar with composition, try at least to follow the rule of thirds: any key factors of your image should line up within a third of the way in from any side of the photo (horizontally and/or vertically).
One thing that bugs me about photos found on facebook is how they’re often framed poorly; a group of people in one corner with lots of dead space above and to the side of the photo.
Think hard about what you want to include in a photo and wait for the right moment to capture it.
10 – Too Much Photoshop
I’m all for a bit of post processing but, when it’s over done and on every photo, it looks pretty terrible.
Try to get the exposure right in the camera and restrict post production to cropping, contrast and enhancing techniques.
Purposely overexposing a photo; adding fake lens flare; going black and white for no reason; and too much contrast will detract from what could be a very good photo.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
Thank you for reading...
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