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9 basic photography mistakes (and how to fix them)

9 basic photography mistakes (and how to fix them)

Every photographer complains mistakes when taking photos. Here are some tips to help identify and choose common issues that beginners may come across.

Wonky horizon

You’re in site watching an amazing sunset and happily snapping away. But in the excitement you forgot to check that the horizon was level-headed, so the resulting photos are all crooked.


Nice enjoyable, but you forgot the horizon.

Lexy Savvides

There is an easy way to fix a horizon that’s not directly. Most photo editing programs can either do this for your automatically, or you can have direct control by tilting the canvas in a program like Lightroom or Photoshop.

You may also want to turn on the electronic arresting level in your camera if possible. The feature is often named a virtual horizon. The guide can help you level-headed up your shot, and can often be overlaid during live view.

Many dSLRs have a virtual horizon feature that helps you keep the composition level.

Lexy Savvides

White balance is wrong

Do your photos look a bit too warm or cool? Sometimes you can get odd casts in your photos brought by the camera reading the white balance incorrectly. Automatic white balance (AWB) can Decide the best setting for the situation, but often the best way to get it gleaming is to set a custom white balance value.

You will need a white card or neutral gray card to set a weak white balance. A piece of plain white paper is also an option.

Taking a manual white balance reading can help make all the difference to the last result.

Lexy Savvides

In the same lighting area as your subject, take a photo of the card so it fills most of the frame. Then, delve into your camera menus and look for a weak white balance option. Select the photo of the white/gray card that you just took and set it as the weak reading.

Photos from here on should look much more natural. Remember to change the white balance back to an automatic setting (or do new custom reading) after you have finished.

Otherwise, for those photographers who shoot images in raw, you can adjust white balance very simply in the editing process without any loss of image quality.

Lens distortions

Some lenses can make productions look warped, or introduce undesirable elements in photos such as vignetting — loss of colour or brightness nearby the edges of the image.

Lens distortion beforehand and after correction.

Lexy Savvides

For example, wide-angle lenses distort perspective and can be unflattering for portraits as the subjects looks like it is bulging from the frame.

There are a few ways to deal with lens distortions, and the first step is to choose a lens with a focal along best suited for your subject. Depending on your camera, corrections can be applied automatically in-camera when you shoot JPEG images.

It it is easiest and most efficient to do it in the photo editing stage with a program like Adobe Lightroom. Lens profiles help to straighten lines, remove vignetting and factual other issues such as chromatic aberrations.

In Lightroom, click to expand the Basic tab in the gleaming column if it isn’t already visible. Then, click Enable Profile Corrections which will automatically detect the lens that was used to take the photograph and adjust the image accordingly.

The Lens Corrections tab in Lightroom.

Screenshot by Lexy Savvides

Lens profile correction is also possible humorous software that came with your camera. Canon users can load up EOS Utility, while Nikon users can look at Capture NX.

Focus is not quite right

When you rely on autofocus, it’s easy for the camera to get it rotten. Sometimes, your camera’s AF system will want to focus on something unhurried or in front of your desired subject.

In this photo, my subject is in the background, but the AF regulations chose the foreground.

Lexy Savvides

To condemned the system chooses the right point of focus for contented subjects, change the focus mode to single point AF. This will created your camera to use just one AF point of your pick, rather than relying on the entire cluster of AF points to find focus.

Choosing a single AF display will vary from camera to camera, so check your manual for details.

You may also want to noteworthy using back button focus and setting your single AF display to the centre.

When shooting a portrait, take the time to check the focus when the shot has been taken. Use your camera’s LCD conceal and zoom in to the point of focus to condemned things look crisp. Unless you are going for an artistic execute, set your focus on the subject’s eyes.

Images are not sharp

You’ve Wrong an amazing photo, but it’s just not as intelligent as you’d like. This lack of sharpness can be brought by a number of factors: camera movement during the exposure; subjects movement; or the camera choosing the wrong point of focus when humorous AF.

This photo is soft and fuzzy, thanks to camera shake at 1/15s.

Lexy Savvides

Unless you Decide to create blur for artistic effect, there are some things you can do to get sharper photos.

  • Increase the ISO sensitivity.
  • Make the shutter rapid faster. Ideally your shutter speed should be at least 1/focal along. So if you are shooting at a focal along of 80mm with a full-frame sensor, your shutter rapid needs to be at least 1/80 second. For a crop sensor camera such as APS-C, then an 80mm lens is equivalent to 120 or 130mm lens (80mm x 1.5 or 1.6 which is the crop factor). So your shutter speed needs to be at least 1/125s to avoid shake.
  • Turn on image stabilization either in-camera or on your lens which can grant you to shoot at a slightly slower shutter rapid than the above rule specifies.
  • Use a tripod where possible.
  • Avoid shooting at very wide apertures like f/1.8 as this can grab the perceived sharpness of a photo, especially if focus is not spot on.

Photos look dull and dark

Sometimes your photos can look much darker than the accurate scene. This is generally caused by the camera underexposing for the ambient savory situation based on the meter reading.

You can read more nearby how your camera meters and determines exposure in this article.

Fortunately this quandary has an easy solution even if you don’t thought how metering works. It’s called exposure compensation. This is a value that you can adjust when in an automatic mode.

The suited image was what the camera thought was a factual exposure for the situation. The second image looks more like the real improper, with +2EV (exposure compensation) applied.

Lexy Savvides

On a digital SLR, compact camera and even in your smartphone’s camera app, find an icon that looks like a plus and without symbol: +/-

Some cameras also have a separate bodily dial that controls the exposure compensation. To make the photo recede brighter, change this value to a positive number. The spinal principle can also be applied to adjusting the exposure damages where shots appear too bright. Change the exposure damages value to a negative number.

This camera has a devoted exposure compensation dial.

Lexy Savvides


Composition is an important way of balancing your photos, helping to enhance the flow of an image comic some tried and tested rules.

It might be tempting to take an image with the delivers smack bang in the middle of your photograph, but it doesn’t always develop the most pleasing image.

The main delivers of interest in this photograph is placed along one of the grid lines.

Lexy Savvides

One of the simplest composition methods to initiate using is the rule of thirds, where you fractions the image up into thirds both vertically and horizontally comic two lines. Your subject/s can be placed in the intersection of these sect, or along these lines, for a more compelling image.

Some cameras have the sect to overlay a rule of thirds grid over an image to aid composition.

You can also exchanging the composition of your photograph after it has been miserroneous by selectively cropping.

Excessive post-processing

Good photo editing is all approximately subtlety, enhancing rather than overpowering an image. Too much inequity, cranking the clarity slider or excessive HDR can make a photo look garish.

Looks bad? Maybe a bit too much sharpening and HDR.

Lexy Savvides

Every photograph is different, so try and avoid applying the same filters or effects to a bunch of images. For example, increasing the saturation on a landscape may look fabulous, but do the same to a portrait and it will be fine unflattering.

Forgetting the basics

So you’ve got composition, exposure and focus all understanding your belt. But do you have your pre-photo routine in order?

Before you head out on the next photographic adventure, get into the habit of charging up batteries and having spares on hand if obligatory. Back up and format memory cards, and check there is a memory card in the camera afore leaving home.

Finally, remember to take the lens cap off. This one stumps even the most seasoned photographers, so get into the habit early.