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Top 10 Stupid Photographer Mistakes

They happen to everyone (I hope).  Stupid photographer tricks.  Silly little mistakes in operating that fancy, expensive camera that make you look and feel like a complete novice when they happen.  They can ruin the occasional shot or an entire day’s shoot and they are all due to operator error.  Here is my top 10 list.

Wrong ISO

Not checking what ISO your camera was last set to is a frustrating error I make from time to time.  It usually happens that I have, for some reason, in a previous session pushed my ISO up to something like 1600 or more an then forgot to change it back.  The next time I picked up the camera and started blasting off a bunch of images only to discover (often after the event is over) that they were really noisy images and that a much lower ISO would have been much better.  The key tip off that I inevitably fail to notice is that my shutter speed is too high or my aperture number is too large.  Fortunately, I have only done this a few times.

Focus?  What focus?

This one is a bit more common, though usually only a problem when I am shooting with a wide open aperture like f2.8 or f5.6 where my depth of field is at near its narrowest.  Not being careful on what part of the subject I am focussing on under these conditions can give such a headache later when you realize that your camera locked its focus onto some other part of the image.  Much of this problem has been eliminated in my photography by switching to a single focus point that I regularly reposition in the viewfinder in conjunction with using the AF-ON button to set focus instead of the usual shutter being half pressed down.

Full Memory Card

I use reasonably large memory cards (4 to 8 GB in size) and regularly check the remaining number of images.  I always try to swap cards when the counter gets down to the last 20 images or so on the card.  In the occasional case where I have forgotten to bring a second memory card, I have needed to start deleting unwanted images on the fly or switch from RAW format (which I usually use) to jpeg format, which suddenly makes the memory card have a lot more space, depending on the size of the jpeg file chosen.  Best solution is to always carry a backup memory card (or more than you think you need when travelling).

No Memory Card

This one is a real blush generator.  One afternoon I decided to go visit my daughter and grand-daughter on the other side of the city.  I had been downloading images and the most recently used memory card was on the computer, not in the camera.  Being in a hurry, I grabbed the camera and ran out the door.  When at my daughter’s place I rattled off what I thought were the cutest images of my grand-daughter.  Imagine my chagrin when I went to show the images to my daughter only to discover that I had been merely testing out the camera shutter since I had forgotten to put a fresh card in the camera.  Duh.

Wrong Image Format

This one was a bit of a shock when it happened.  I had been travelling to an industrial site with some other people and the trip involved a lot of time spent in trucks driving to various places on the site.  During the trips I had my camera in my lap while spending my time looking out the window for interesting images to capture, visiting with the other people in the vehicle and, in a very absent minded manner, fiddling with my camera knobs.  The one I was playing with the most, it turns out, was the image quality, or image format dial on the top of the camera.  I had randomly turned it from the RAW format to TIFF and ended up shooting the majority of the trip in TIFF format (I never shoot in TIFF format.  Why is it even on the darned camera anyway?).  It turned out that one of the best images I took that day had a lot of contrast due to the bright sunlight, but not being in RAW, I was limited in the amount of exposure leeway I had in the final TIFF image.  Sigh.

This thing uses batteries?

When I bought my camera I shortly afterward went back to the dealer and purchased a second battery for the obvious reasons.  Guess why.

Timer delay accidentally set

This one is a frustrating one to figure out when you do it.  My camera has a setting that allows for a short time delay between the push of the shutter button and the actual activation of the shutter (about 2 seconds).  It is not the self timer, which is easy to find on the top dial.  This is an obscure setting found deep within the menu system of the camera.  I have a real problem trying to figure out what good this setting is even for.  I have no idea how it came to be set to ON, but somehow it was.  It took me ages to figure out why my shutter was delayed by 2 seconds, and I eventually tripped onto what it was by reviewing my camera guide.  I take some consolation in learning that an acquaintance of mine has also done the same thing.  At least I could tell her what it might have been.

Accidental Photo Bracketing

Sometimes I like to bracket exposures for HDR purposes or just to ensure a good exposure in complexly lit scenes.  Sometimes I forget to turn off the bracketing.  It is not a problem if I were to alway take 5 or 7 images of the same subject.  I don’t, hence the problem.

Accidental Exposure Compensation

This one kind of falls into the previous category, though it is not quite as frustrating.  I usually figure it out when my exposures are too higher or lower than I expected.  It is a good thing I shoot in RAW format as it allows most of these kinds of boo-boos to be rescued.

Leaving the camera at home

I am pretty sure I am not the only person to ever do this one….

How about you?

Don’t be shy.  Why not share with us some of your most embarrassing photography mistakes in the comments below?  I promise we will be sympathetic and likely tell you that you are not alone.



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3 thoughts on “Top 10 Stupid Photographer Mistakes

  1. David Molinas says:

    Lens image stabilizar off while shooting off tripode.

  2. bcmun says:

    Hello. Forgotten memory cards most often. Once I grabbed my camera bag while running out, no camera in the bag. Fortunately I looked before I drove to far.
    All the best

  3. JMC says:

    I was generously sold my first digital SLR a week prior to Canon’s official release. New gear, new way of shooting, was 200 miles from home and left the battery uncharged in the box. No store had a battery for that camera yet. Ugh. Wasted a day driving.

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