Today, I want to talk to you about the five mistakes I made when I started doing Perth photography. I want to give you some tips so hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Before I get started here, I just want to point out these are only five of the mistakes I made when I started in photography. I made a lot more mistakes besides the top 5, but these are the five big ones. But if these mistakes you didn’t do, or you saw or you did something similar, put it in the comments below.
I’d love to hear what mistakes you made, and how you corrected them so we can all learn together. With that being said, let’s jump in and I’ll talk about the first mistake.
My first mistake
The first mistake I made is something that pretty much everybody does at the start, and that’s shooting at the wrong time of day. Normally, especially for landscape photography, the best light is during sunrise and sunset. That is a very hard thing for people to get right. Not necessarily get right, but also just understand that those are the times you want to be going out.
When you’re starting out, and I’m very guilty of this when I started, I would go out and shoot about 10, 11 o’clock kind of stuff, because I didn’t want to get up at five in the morning. Then you come back home and take a look at your photos and feel let down by your photography.
The reality is, and it takes a little bit of time to learn this, is that you need to be getting up for the good light. Now this good light idea, and the whole idea of getting better light can be transferable to pretty much anything in photography, whether it’s portraits, or product photography, or pretty much anything in between. Photography is all about light. In Perth we are lucky to have so much sun, but the rule still stands. You’ve got to get yourself into correct light.
Get out in Perth when everyone else is sleeping
I enjoy doing landscape photography, as I said, you’ve got to be out for sunrise and sunset. Obviously people prefer sunset because it means they don’t have to get up super early. But, in my personal opinion and my personal experience, sunrise is often the best way to go about it. There’s some really great light there, and often, because it’s the morning, there will be fewer people out
I definitely recommend checking out the sunrise times if you are going to be doing landscape stuff. As I said, it takes a little bit of time and a little bit of experience for people to understand that you should be getting up in the morning to be shooting your pictures. But as I said,the light is one of the most important items when it comes to taking good photos.
Memory card readers. Always easy to find in Perth
The second mistake I think pretty much every photographer has ever done, and that is using slow memory cards and also slow card readers. While you can kind of get away with having a slow memory card, it kind of becomes a bit of a problem when you’re doing stuff like portraits. Or landscapes in fact, if you’re going to be doing brackets, you know HCR brackets and stuff like that.
One of the biggest culprits here, and something that I’m really quite passionate about actually, is memory card readers. We’re all guilty of this. We buy really cheap, generally from Hong Kong, let’s all be honest here, from Ebay, like $10 memory card readers from Hong Kong. They’re plastic, they’re very unreliable. I’ve had multiple memory card readers break on me over time. They’re usually quite slow, they’re usually USB 2, although nowadays, they are probably USB 3.
Transferring your information from your card to your computer
It’s something definitely worth considering about card readers because these are the things that are actually transferring your information from your card to your computer. This is a very vulnerable part of the image and the image process.
when the pictures are on your card they will very rarely get anything wrong with them. They will very rarely get completely …… corrupted. These days its never going to get completely ruined on the card. It’s very rare that that happens because it’s all flash memory, as we all know. But when corruption usually happens it is in the file transfer period from the card to the computer.
This is really, really important guys. You need to be making sure you have a great card reader. I have a card reader myself. The Hoodman Steel card reader. Obviously this isn’t the one you’re going to have to buy, there’s others besides it, but just make sure you get a really nice good quality card reader. This guy, I bought at Photoshop World many years ago, and it’s still running solid. It’s just a hard steel case, a card reader, USB 3, SD and CF card. Great carder. Something I’m very passionate about, making sure and investing in a really solid card reader because as I’ve said, that’s lasted me years.
Shooting your photography in JPEG mode
The third one on my list is going to be very controversial, so please forgive me, and please don’t put hate comments down below, but it is shooting in JPEG. I personally think this is a bit of a mistake. Generally nowadays, photographers are pretty wise up to the fact that they need to be using Photoshop and Lightroom. If they’re not, well, you should be shooting in RAW and JPEG.
What I’m very passionate about is not getting stuck in shooting JPEG. Of course RAW is the better format. That’s right, I said it. But the only reason I do bring this up is because, as I said, people get very stuck in their ways when they’re shooting JPEG, and they get very confused by the idea of shooting RAW. Of course there are multiple places online where you can learn about RAW and what a RAW image is. I understand that camera manufacturers aren’t really that good at actually explaining what RAW files are.
In my personal opinion, I think shooting in JPEG is kind of a wrong decision, really, especially when you’re starting out, because you don’t really learn your camera as much. I was very guilty of shooting JPEG in the beginning, and you process your images, and you wonder why there’s all these weird artifacts. I am happy to say I have been shooting RAW for more then 6 years and i never looked back and often in JPEG you’re editing your pictures and it looks all grainy and grungy. It looks worse than the point and shoot camera pictures that you were using, or very similar. That is because it’s a JPEG file, and you can only mess around with those files so much.
RAW is definitely the way to go, in my opinion, but please don’t send any hate comments below saying, “You should shoot in JPEG.” I understand JPEG for sports and stuff like that, that’s great, but, as I said, my personal opinion, RAW, the way to go.
Not knowing and understanding your camera
You really need to understand everything about your camera to get the most out of it and do the best photography. The first thing that I really implore you to do is when you get your first camera is to really understand it. Know the button layouts, and where it all is and how it all works. It really does actually help speed up how you are shooting.
I know when I first got my 5D Mark III, I was fumbling around for a long time trying to figure out … I’m trying to change this, where’s the button for that? Where’s the menu option for that? I would definitely recommend sitting down, maybe spending an afternoon of figuring out where all of the buttons are. Just pointing up, shooting, and then trying to change settings, just so you can kind of get a feel for where all the buttons are so it becomes second nature.
Understanding the limitations of you camera
The second part to this is a little more complicated, and it takes a little bit longer, and not understanding the limitations and the capabilities of your camera. I remember when I was shooting on my Canon 40D, which is a camera I love to death. One of the reasons why I do love it is because I knew it inside and out. One limitation I really did start to hit, especially when I jumped over to doing landscape photography, was I was really hitting its limit on dynamic range. That’s why I decided to invest in my 5D Mark III.
But you should also be looking at your camera for what it is completely capable of doing. I know what my 5D Mark III, it does a whole lot more than I could ever do. Up until about six months ago, or even less than that really, I didn’t use it for video.
This is something you should just consciously be thinking about, is thinking, “Hey, what else can this camera do?” You should always be learning more and more. We’re really guilty of once we understand the things we want to know, we just don’t learn anything else.
So its important to constantly be looking to try and figure something else out that you can do with your camera,these cameras are really quite powerful. They’re definitely capable of doing so much more than we use them for, so that’s something you definitely should be thinking about.
This last mistake is something I think every photographer struggles with, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, but it’s something I’m very passionate about, and it’s understanding and learning composition. I’m not going to go into details about what you should be doing and what you should be looking for for composition … the rule of thirds, leading lines, all that kind of stuff.
Crush the Composition
I want you to go watch a video. Here on YouTube there’s a great amazing class by Scott Kelby called “Crush the Composition”. Now it was originally a class for the online training website, kelbyone.com, originally of kelbytraining.com back then. Kelby Media did a Google+ conference a couple of years ago, and Scott was very gracious enough to share the entire class on stage, called “Crush the Composition”. This is one of my favourite classes that they have on their website, and that says a lot.
I watch this class at least once, if not twice a year, as a really great refresh. Scott’s really, really nailed it down on teaching you the ideas of composition. Of course he does do all the things like leading lines, and rule of thirds and all of that stuff, but that is not … It’s useful to know for composition, but of course there’s are so many more subtleties to it than that. You can have a great composition technically, but the image can suck. He really breaks that down and shows you what you should be looking for in your composition.
Its on YouTube. It’s one of my favourite classes. Anytime anybody asks about online training, those are the guys I go to, but that class in particular is something I’m very passionate about, because I watch it all the time and I learn something new every single time. Definitely go and check that out.
I’ve done the five mistakes here, but I want to cover one more thing. It’s not necessarily a mistake, that’s why I’m kind of tacking it on to the end here. But it’s definitely something people should be thinking about, especially when they’re starting, and that is shooting more interesting subjects.
I know when I first started out, I was always kind of disappointed with my images, especially when I compared it to professionals. Besides all the lighting and all that kind of stuff, there was always something that felt a little bit different. That is the fact that the subjects that were in my pictures simply weren’t as interesting as the subjects in the professional pictures.
There’s a quote I love from Joe McNally which is this,
“If you want more interesting photographs, you’ve got to be shooting more interesting people.” While he was referring to portraits in that quote, I definitely think it’s something that you can look at in a fairly wide range of photography.
Find interesting places in Perth and your city.
Even if you have great light, great composition, if you were to compare something that was shot in the same light, in the same composition, but the subject wasn’t as interesting, the professional one that has more interesting subjects, in theory, would be much nicer. That’s something to constantly be thinking about and that is to always shoot more interesting things.
Of course this is related to all types of photography, like portrait photography or product photography. You want a nicer looking product, you want a nicer looking person. That’s just a fact of life. If you’re shooting portraits, and you have someone that’s good looking, but not great, and you compare it to like a model, you’ll definitely be more inclined to like the picture of the model. Even if it was exactly the same light and same composition, as I said before. Because it is a more interesting subject, it is more pleasing to your eyes.
Definitely something worth thinking about. It’s not really a mistake as such, but it’s something I think many beginners don’t really think about, but they consciously, or at least subconsciously, recognize in their images.
http://www.perth-photography.com.au/photography-questions/ If you want to keep learning about photography
So those are the five plus one mistake that I made when I started in photography. So what mistakes did you make when you started in photography? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.