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Q: Common Mistakes in Digital Photography? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Common Mistakes in Digital Photography?
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: reesm-ga
List Price: $60.00
Posted: 12 May 2006 06:07 PDT
Expires: 11 Jun 2006 06:07 PDT
Question ID: 728042
Can you please advise me about the most common mistakes that beginners
make when using a compact digital camera (not an SLR) to take
photographs?  I would also appreciate some detailed answers and
remedies to these issues.
Subject: Re: Common Mistakes in Digital Photography?
Answered By: boquinha-ga on 15 May 2006 22:34 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello reesm-ga!

So we meet again! I?m learning so much about digital photography in
researching your questions. I?m amazed at the information that I?m
finding. I hope you appreciate it as well! Here we go.

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I was amazed at how often the same few mistakes are repeated in
numerous articles online. I guess they must be important! An article
on the Microsoft website outlines three major mistakes in digital

The problem:

* Contrast problems ? This often occurs on bright days with ?harsh
sunlight.? This results in dark shadowy areas along with ?ultra-bright
highlight? areas. Other causes of contrast problems are bright white
objects, such as wedding dresses, or bright landscapes, like a snowy

The Fix: 

* Try to avoid direct sunlight if possible, or take pictures in
slightly cloudy conditions.
* If you have the option, you can use a lower contrast setting on your camera.
*In direct sunlight, use the ?Flash Always On? setting for nearby
objects to even out the lighting. This can also brighten shadows

The problem:

* Inadequate flash range ? When objects are too far away for the
flash, you end up with dark, shadowy pictures.

The Fix:

* Know your camera?s flash range.
* Turn off the flash for distant objects
* There were a number of other tips for more complicated cameras (see
below link). From working on your earlier question, I don?t think it
applies to your specific camera model.

The problem:

* Excessive JPEG compression ? The default resolution and file size of
most point-and-shoot digital cameras will be adequate for quality 4 x
6 prints, but not much more. Most amateurs use the low
resolution/small file size settings to preserve memory space. The
larger the file, the less compression that is necessary to preserve
space, and the higher quality the picture.

The Fix:

* Buy a high-capacity memory card.
* Set your camera to high resolution/high file size for the highest
quality pictures.
* If you are limited by memory, use a small file with a high
resolution. You should still be able to produce high-quality 5 x 7

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I found another article that listed 10 mistakes made commonly by
amateur photographers, along with simple solutions. This is a
frequently referenced article throughout the internet, and is filled
with excellent advice. I?ve included what I felt to be the most
important points for your situation.
* Blurry pictures ? this is most commonly due to camera shake. Use a
good quality tripod.

* ?Contrasty pictures? ? This is usually due to high-contrast lighting
(like I mentioned above). Some examples include a forest on a sunny
day, or noontime on a bright, sunny day. In these situations, use the
fill-flash, or ideally, wait for better conditions.

* Red Eye ? This is frequently due to an on-camera flash. The pros use
a separate, off-camera flash; but the amateurs can try to use the
red-eye setting (which has varied successes), or adjust the angle of
the photo to avoid the ?head-on? pose.

* Obstructions ? Lookout for intruders, human or otherwise. Remember
that the viewfinder only shows 92-95% of the final picture. Shift the
camera slightly to see what might be immediately outside of the
viewfinder?s range.

For the rest, refer to:

Here are four pages of links to articles about photography, including the above.

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From Pixel Perfect Digital, here is another list of common mistakes
with solutions. Some are repeats, but good nonetheless.

* Standing too far away ? Move yourself closer.

* Taking pictures in front of a ?busy? backdrop ? Try to shoot
pictures of people in front of simple backdrops as much as possible

* Relying on natural light outside ? Use your flash outside to avoid shadows.

* Getting in a ?rut? ? Take some vertically oriented shots to vary your collection.

* Shaking excessively ? Steady yourself against a solid object, or use
a tripod. This will reduce blurriness.

* Conserving photos ? Get a high-capacity memory card so you can take
plenty of pictures. And most of all, experiment to refine your skills
and style.

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This next link has some repeat information, but the most salient
pieces of information are as follows:

*Don?t use the low resolution/small file settings to compress the image

*Avoid the digital zoom. This performs an in-image crop and does not
improve the quality of the picture.

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In an article in the Times Photo Journal, there is a list of 50 tips
and problems of which the amateur photographer should be aware. Ten of
these are accessible without a subscription. I?ve included 6 that I
thought were especially useful.

* Not enough battery power ? Be sure to carry extra batteries.
Standard AA batteries do not provide much power, so try to find
high-quality rechargeable alternatives.

* Not enough memory ? Get at least one high-capacity memory card. (Sound familiar?)

* Using low-resolution settings ? Avoid this unless you don?t have any
intention of printing your photos.
The better alternative is, you guessed it, a high-capacity memory card.

* Not enough attention to protection against moisture and humidity ?
if your camera gets splashed, remove  the memory card and batteries,
dry your camera inside and out, and then reassemble and turn it on.
Digital cameras are notoriously sensitive to water.

* Using the digital zoom ? As I mentioned above, the extra zoom
afforded by the digital zoom does not improve quality.

* Using the LCD screen too much ? Whether using it as a viewfinder, or
just to review your photos frequently, this is a quick way to reduce
the life of your batteries.

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Here is a link to 10 more ?newbie? errors. Some are repeats (I?ll let
you guess which ones!) and some are new. Here are some highlights:

* Avoid using the low resolution/small file settings.

* Resist the temptation to use the highly touted digital zoom.

* Don?t forget the extra battery power.

* Don?t rely on the viewfinder at arms length. This will make you less
steady and lead to blurry pictures.

* Don?t assume you can ?Photoshop? the picture later to improve it.
Try to get a great shot now.

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This quote comes from a USA Today article in December 2001. 

"The most common beginner's mistake in photography is to take in too
much of the area you're shooting," Etchells says. "A zoom can really
help you get closer, but digital zoom won't. It's misled a lot of
people. All it does is stretch out the picture, making everything get
bigger, but also softer and fuzzier."

Here is another list of mistakes. According to the article, the big
offenders seem to be file compression, low-resolution settings, and
the digital zoom. It also includes some etiquette like avoiding the
trap of sending huge files by email attachment.

This next link comes from a photography blog. A great piece of advice
comes at the bottom of the page. It discusses problems with lining up
horizons properly. Use the trick to line up the horizon, or other
horizontal object, with the upper edge of your viewfinder (make them
parallel). This will create more level and professional appearing
photos. Interesting!

This short article makes the plea: ?Don't forget to turn the flash off
for night shots!? A good rule of thumb is that if the object you are
photographing is more than 4 meters away, it will not light up with
the flash. The picture will come out better with the flash off. Read
your camera?s guide to better understand your flash?s range.

Here is an interesting site with a number of tutorials about digital
photography in general.

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After all of these tips, and the list of things NOT to do, you should
have some fantastic pictures! Again, I was truly amazed at how often
the same few mistakes were mentioned. These must be the big ones! Good
luck with everything! And I hope you have a wonderful holiday (with
some great photos)! If you have need of any further clarification,
please let me know how I can help.


Search terms:

Common mistake digital photo
common error digital photo
digital photography mistakes
beginner mistakes digital photo
reesm-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Top answer.  Thank you very much again Boquinha for your work.  I'm
very pleased with this information.  Cheers

Subject: Re: Common Mistakes in Digital Photography?
From: crabcakes-ga on 16 May 2006 10:56 PDT
Great answer, and exactly what I would have said! 

I find a tripod helps tremendously, and I ALWAYS have a spare battery
pack and flash cards at the ready! Like the answer above states, the
digital zoom is nothing more than an advertising gimmick, in my
opinion. Pictures produced with the digital zoom are pixelated.

When printing, use the best photo paper you can afford. My favorite is
Epson's Ultra Premium Glossy Photo paper. Expensive, but well worth it
for great prints.
Subject: Re: Common Mistakes in Digital Photography?
From: boquinha-ga on 19 May 2006 06:43 PDT
Thank you for the kind words, 5 stars, and generous tip! Have a great
holiday full of GREAT pictures!

And thank you to my colleague Crabcakes for the additional comment! 


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