Photo Fails: Part I

Professional photographers often take hundreds of photos to get the one image that really works.  But how often do we get to see the ones they discard?

I, as an amateur, am willing to share my mistakes.  For today’s post, I chose problems even the most inexperienced eye can spot–these apply whether you’re shooting with your smart phone or a DSLR.  I will have part 2 to this post tomorrow–couldn’t get it down to my 500 word limit.

Clumsy Errors

These occur when I do things like trip over my dog while trying to take a shot.  This image falls into the sub-category “improper camera holding while not shooting.”  This image happened by mistake when I accidentally put my finger on the shutter button while carrying the camera.

This is what happens when you shoot accidentally

This is what happens when you shoot accidentally

To avoid this, for my DSLR, a cross-shoulder strap holds the camera so I don’t have to.  With my iPhone, I end up with pocket shots.  To avoid this, I turn off the screen before I put the phone back in my pocket.

Blown Out Sky

This also has “uninteresting subject” and “crap composition” going for it, but let’s focus on the sky.  This happens when the shot is exposed for a dark subject and the sky is so bright that the camera cannot handle the difference in the light levels.  It’s often hard to avoid.  This is particularly challenging if you’re shooting with a smart phone app that doesn’t have exposure control, but sometimes you can get it to expose on something that’s halfway between the darkest and lightest parts of the image by tapping on the screen in the case of the iPhone camera.

Among the many problems with this image, the sky is over exposed ("blown out")

Among the many problems with this image, the sky is over exposed (“blown out”)

The other option is to use HDR.  It combines multiple exposures into one image.  On the iPhone, Pro HDR does this for you automatically.  The default camera app also has an HDR setting in the 4S and 5.  If you choose this option, it’s imperative to hold the phone as still as possible.

Inappropriate Use of Flash

I see this all the time.  ALL the time.  This is an iPhone shot of a fortune.  It was funny, but you can’t tell because the flash overexposed the subject.  Hint:  Turn the flash off!  When you use it, use it on purpose. Otherwise, it will fire in situations when it will do you no good (like flashes popping in the audience of an arena) and even situations when it will ruin the shot (often seen when people stand squarely in front of an aquarium and try to get a shot of a fish through the glass).  If you need the flash, turn it on.  If you don’t know if you need it, turn it off.

I wonder what my fortune was?

I wonder what my fortune was?