You know every single photographer out there has at some in their career gone “What does Aperture mean” and the reason why is because we were all beginners. I remember hand holding my new film camera taking 1 second exposures and asking a mate at the time who was helping me understand the basics “Recon that will be good” and he was like “No dude” and laughed. Now sitting here as a professional photographer I thought I would list out some common mistakes I have seen photographers make over my career as someone active in the field shooting and also teaching photographers as well, so I hope it helps.
I have broken it into two sections. Core problems which I think are essential to helping you be a better photographer, then problems to keep in mind that will help you but aren’t essential.
1. SHOOTING JPEG AND NOT RAW
This is an absolute must if your shooting images that you want to be able to develop and process into a better photo. A Jpeg file is one that has already been processed to some degree in your camera, colour, tone and resolution has been deleted to some degree and the image is then saved to your card. A RAW file is your master capture. Nothing is deleted or added to the photo and it is the full resolution capture capability of the camera. If your worried about card space then get a bigger card. As a beginner just shoot on the RAW setting, if you really need a Jpeg file quick then shoot RAW + Jpeg.
2. SHOOTING TRIPOD MOUNTED IMAGES WITH IMAGE STABERLISER ON
The image stabiliser feature on your lenses is there to compensate in slower shutters speeds the movement of the lens to counteract it so the image is as sharp as possible. When your camera is mounted to a tripod and this feature is on it can cause your image to have blur. I remember I was teaching a course and we were shooting sunset and a student’s images just weren’t sharp for some reason when we viewed them on the screen and zoomed in. As soon as we turned the IS off on their lens, perfectly sharp photos.
3. SHOOTING WITH YOUR LENS STILL ON AUTO FOCUS
When shooting landscapes it is all about making sure your foreground and background are sharp. To achieve this you need to focus your lens at the correct distance in front of you so from your point of focus to you is sharp and everything behind it. This is called your Depth of Field. A great calculator for this found on a website called dofmaster.
The process is you focus your camera 1/3rd into your scene (or as recommended) on autofocus and then switch your camera to manual and then shoot. If you don’t change your focus to manual and shoot then your point of focus is now not 1/3rd into your scene (which would be 5 meters away) it is now possibly on the horizon some 2km away. So make sure you don’t shoot landscapes with Auto Focus on already remember to focus your lens as required and then switch it to manual.
4. NOT UNDERSTANDING YOUR HISTOGRAM
When you take a photo everyone looks at the screen and bases there reference if the image looks good or correctly exposed on what they see. The screen on your camera can be very deceiving to tell you if your photo is correctly exposed especially for beginners. If your screen has been set to bright your image will be off, if you’re looking at your screen in harsh light the true quality of your image will not be known until you look at it in a better light. The real truth to your images capture is the histogram. The histogram maps out your images tonal range I could go into great detail here about I have an article out soon called “What is your Histogram and how to read it”.