There are quite a few mistakes that almost everyone makes when they start out in photography. Below, I am going to talk a bit about some of the most common ones:
If your picture is too bright, or if some parts of your picture are too bright, it will lose some of the detail of the photo. When a picture is too bright, photographers say that it is "over-exposed". If this brightness is extreme (see the picture on the right) then we say that the picture, or part of the picture, is "blown-out".
Solution: How to fix this depends on what camera you have and where/when you are taking photos. The simplest thing is to try to avoid very bright, direct light. You can do this by trying to find shade, or you can try to create your own shade (e.g. if you are taking a picture of a flower, you might try placing a piece of paper between the flower and the sun). You can also change the settings on your camera. If your camera has something called "exposure compensation" try turning this up (i.e. increase the value). This will tell your camera to try to capture less light.
If you own a more advanced camera and are comfortable changing its settings, you can experiment with trying to change the shutter speed to a faster setting, using a higher f-stop number, or lowering the ISO setting.
When a picture comes out too dark, this too will result in a photo with poor detail. When a picture is too dark, we say it is "under-exposed".
Solution: The simplest solution is to add more light. You can do this by trying to find a brighter area, by using a lamp or some other kind of light, or by turning on your flash. You can also change your camera settings. If your camera has something called “exposure compensation” try turning this down (i.e. decrease the value). This will tell your camera to try to capture more light.
If you own a more advanced camera and are comfortable changing the settings, you can try changing the shutter speed to a slower setting, using a lower f-stop number, or increasing the ISO setting.
When a picture is too cluttered, there are too many distracting things in it. It is hard to say exactly when a picture becomes too cluttered and people might disagree. Nonetheless, keep in mind what it is you are trying to take a picture of and ask yourself it there are too many other things in the photo that ruin it. For example, if you want to take a picture of a nice statue, the photo will probably be a lot better if you do not also catch a dozen people and the local garbage truck while it is doing its rounds.
Solution: Moving closer to the subject or zooming in is often the best way. This way you focus in on exactly what it is you are interested in. You can try to find a slightly different angle with fewer things or colors in the background.
For the more advanced users, you can try using a lower f-stop number; this will blur more of the image that is behind and in front of your subject.
Out of focus
Your camera will sometimes have problems focusing automatically and this can lead to blurry photos. There is really nothing worse than a picture that is out of focus.
Solution: First, check that the autofocus is switched on. Once you have done that, try to figure out why the focus is not working. There are three possible reasons: 1. you do not have enough light, 2. the subject is moving, or 3. there is too little detail for the camera to focus on. I will take one below:
- Too little light: please see the solutions in the "too dark" section above.
- The object is moving: If you camera has a "sports mode", use it. For more on this, please see our article on movement.
- There is too little detail: The camera needs to focus onto something. For example, if you point it at a blank wall, the camera may not know what you want it to focus on. To fix this, make sure you have chosen a subject that the camera recognizes.
Movement blur happens when the subject is moving so fast that it actually moves while the camera's shutter is open. The camera sees the subject in two places at once.
Solution: If your camera has a sports mode, use it. If you have a more advanced camera, try using the "shutter priority mode" (tv) and increasing the shutter speed. You can also read more in the article on movement.
"Red eye" is a problem that occurs when light reflects from peoples eyes causing red dots to appear the photo.
Solution: Your camera will have a “red eye” function; use it.
Pictures will sometimes come out with the colors being a bit off. This is because the camera can't always tell what type of light is lighting the scene you are photographing.
Solution: Set the white balance setting in your camera to match your surroundings. Your camera will have settings for sunny or cloudy conditions and for different types of lighting like light bulbs or florescent lights.
by Simon James Allanach, edited by Alan Frost
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