Top 5 Beginner Mistakes

7 Building Blocks of Photography 2

Have you ever bought a shiny new camera then been disappointed because the photos are no different to with the old one?

Photography is full of contradictions. Apertures for example, control amount of depth of field or background blur - but to what extent varies according to the length of the lens and the distance to subject. And sometimes you can use any aperture you like and it won’t make any difference at all because you’re outside the infinity focus.

So if you were to learn that an aperture of f5.6 (or less) will make the background blurry, that’s correct - but only in certain circumstances. See what I mean…?

I’ve been training photographers since 2008 and  there are some common mistakes they (we) all make. Now, mistakes are wonderful things because they always carry a gift for us if we bother to look for it. However some are caused by confusion, often spread over the massive amount of free information available to us online. That and the big bucks marketing campaigns put out by manufacturers all vying for our business.

My Top 5 Photography Mistakes are…

  • The camera’s light meter is always right: No it isn’t, it’s a starting point but it’s not always what you want. The camera doesn’t know how bright or dark you want it to be. It doesn’t know which area of the image is the most important to you as it’s creator. Sometimes it’s perfect but not always. It’s up to you to check the exposure the camera suggests then change it if needs be to be what you want.

  • Spot Metering Is Best: No, it’s more precise when you know which area of an image you want the camera to interpret as mid grey. If the most important part of an image to you is a bright area and you spot meter from it, the camera will darken it and make it mid grey. If you spot meter from a dark area it’ll brighten it to mid grey. You have to ask yourself if that’s how you want the image to be. Personally I never use it because it’s another thing to think about. I find evaluative is generally more consistent and gets me closer to where I want it, but I may still have to tweak it to be exactly what I want.

  • Settings are Important: In the vast majority of cases the shutter, aperture and ISO settings don’t make any difference to the image. An exposure of 125th sec @F11 100 ISO is the same thing as 250th sec @F11 200 ISO and 125th sec @ F16 200 ISO. Shutters control movement and Apertures depth of field - but only if you’re focussing inside the infinity point of the lens.

  • Longer focal lengths are to make far off things come closer: Yes they do, but there’s much more creative elements to it. As you change the distance between you and the subject, it changes the way elements of the image appear to stack up behind each other.  Short lengths make elements in the background of a photo appear spread further apart and capture a wide field of view. Long lengths make backgrounds appear compressed together and have a narrow field of view so you can exclude unwanted elements for the sides of a composition. Changing focal length forces you to change the distance between you and the subject because you have to compensate for the magnification differences.

  • A Better Camera Shoots Better Photos: No No No No No! All a camera does is record light as a digital file and nothing more no matter how many features and functions it has. It doesn’t matter if it’s a £35,000 Hasselbald or an entry level compact zoom. The more expensive cameras just give us higher quality or larger image files and possibly a higher ability to capture details in shadows and highlights at the same time (known as dynamic range) - nothing more. Subject matter, composition, lighting, decisive moment, emotion, mood etc are nothing to do with the camera and everything to do with the photographer.

If you want to avoid confusing mistakes like these, having someone guide you through them is probably the best investment you can make for your photography. It’s also a common beginner mistake to think there’s all you need available for free. Sure there’s some great free stuff available, but how will you know what order to put it together and all the contradictions if you don’t have an experienced guide to put you on the right path?

Us humans naturally take the path of least resistance, but sometimes what appears to be the cheap and easy way - isn’t. It just leads to more confusion, frustration and possibly a lack of confidence.

If you’re a beginner don’t make the same mistakes I see over and over again. I’m a professional guide with may years experience and a passion for teaching and sharing it. Check out my Masterclass in Photography. It costs less than a used lens and has 100% refund guarantee.

John Spear said.

“Now I know where I was going wrong and how to put it right. My friends in the local camera club are amazed at my improvement. I cannot put a value on the pride and pleasure I got from this course.”

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