Are You Still Making These Beginner Photography Mistakes?

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(Image by Joe Allam)

It's inevitable. There's bound to be a learning curve for someone upgrading to a fancy new DSLR for the first time from either a point and shoot or a smartphone. Granted a lot of those people will just put the DSLR in auto mode for the first few weeks they have the camera because they just want to take pictures with it. Either in practice or usually the purchase comes a day before a vacation and they don't have time to figure out how to use it properly so they just wing it. 

If you have no training, it's very easy to make mistakes with a new camera. Why? Because DSLRs leave so much of the artistic choices up to you. A smartphone or point and shoot is going to take extremely wide pictures with everything in focus and the light being exposed perfectly for the full image, not selective parts of the image.

Joe Allam posted a video on youtube breaking down the top five mistakes beginning photographers make. The whole video is posted below, and you should watch it because it's an incredibly helpful video, but here are three key missteps that will instantly identify you as a beginner. Are you still making these mistakes?

Uneven Horizons

This is an easy one that happens all the time. See the picture at the top? It's crooked. Yes, you can always fix it in post, but it's not like an iPhone where you can do it right on the device. You actually have to do it in post. DSLRs often have a nice grid built into the viewfinder and onto the back screen breaking down the image into thirds. It's very easy to just line up the horizon with the flat lines in your camera and Boom. Less work to do in post. So, use the grid!

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(image by Joe Allam)

Not White Balancing Correctly... or at all

Ah, the old blue images. This one really stumps newbies. They should be more grateful that they're not shooting on film and don't need to attach a tungsten or daylight filter to the front of the camera and know the difference between them. White balancing does exactly that. You point your camera at a piece of white paper or a grey card if you're trying to be a professional and then use the WHITE BALANCE setting on your camera. It's either going to be up top in the color temp wheel or inside the menu. What's the point if it? You're telling the camera here is all the light that's in this shot and this piece of paper should look white. The camera will then take all the fluorescent and daylight and make them work together so you don't get an unbalanced shot. If you're lazy, the new cameras usually have a setting for sunlight (icon looks like a sun), artificial light (icon looks like a light bulb) or an 'A' for auto light temperature. But if you want to be a pro... white balance those photos. 

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(image by Joe Allam)

Blurry Images

This one usually happens when people switch to a DSLR with a longer lens than they're used to. Most smartphones or point and shoots have very wide angle lenses and you don't need to work so much on focusing. When you put a real piece of glass on a camera you get all the benefits of that shallow depth of field, but also the negatives if you're not careful. When you're shooting wide open at a 2.4 on an 80mm lens just taking a single step back while you're shooting can change the focus of the image dramatically.


Here are a few ways to help you improve your focus besides stopping down your f-stop. 

  • faster shutter speed
  • maintain a steady posture
  • tripod
  • higher iso if in low light

Check out Joe's full video for all his tips and secrets.