What I’ve Learned in Photography This Year

Last fall, I posted this article about things I’ve learned in my few years of studying photography.  But I realize, I never really talked about technical mistakes that tend to slip my mind. So today, I’m poking a little fun at myself, and maybe you too. Here’s some things I’ve probably learned and forgot over the  year.

1. Check your ISO. Always.

Sometimes I forget to check because I usually keep it on AUTO ISO so it adjusts accordingly to my lighting situation. But when you have to bump it up because you were trying to take pictures indoors, say at your sister’s graduation ceremony, without your flash.. your photos will end up looking pretty grainy. Then you take your camera on a camping trip and realize all your beautiful outdoor shots look like this:

Even if you never ever touch your ISO settings…. CHECK THEM!

2. Figure out What Your Lightroom Settings Should Be At… And Double Check Them Before Exporting.

When exporting for web I set my Lightroom settings to 80% quality at 72 ppi. Prior to that, I couldn’t tell you what I set them to because someone set it for me. Then, if you bump your export settings accidentally one day and export all your photos from the Renaissance Faire, they export really small for some reason. Always know what you keep your settings at so you can set them back if they get bumped.

3. Let It Go.

You know, like the song says. If your flash didn’t fire during a sparring session and you missed an awesome shot.. don’t overprocess the living daylight (or night…light?) out of it. Move on. You WILL take other awesome shots. Just accept that you can’t save them all and move on.IMG_5318I’ve since gotten plenty of shots similar to the one above, so don’t sweat it.

4. Be Careful With That Telephoto

Telephoto lenses are really useful when trying to take photos from far away. But they have plenty of drawbacks too. Take that into consideration when you’re editing. For instance, when you use one you automatically lose contrast. So definitely watch contrast when in post process. And be extra careful about cropping. If you try to photograph something like a bird from far away don’t expect to be able to crop it in even more and still have it look as crisp as when you started. That’s not how they work. You’ll end up with this.IMG_8657
Also, just be aware of camera shake or if you’re using a flash, adjust it accordingly. It took me like, a billion years to find that image on my computer, which brings me to my next thing…

5. Have Some Sort of File Management System.

It literally takes little to no physical effort to name a file on your computer and export that image to something that makes sense to you. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to work. Even if you think you’ll never need to find that image, do it. Or you’ll write a blog post about photography and have a hell of a time finding images for it.

6. You’re Probably Not as Good With Your Pop-up Flash as You Think.

Hey! That’s not very nice… What? You want to show me something?

cat-5Oh, I guess you’re right. That doesn’t look so great. I always told people that I use my pop-up flash as a substitute for my external flash when I really need to and that I’m really good at toning it down in Photoshop. That’s probably a true statement. I don’t mean to toot my own horn about my Photoshop skills but um… toot toot, beep beep. As good as I may be at toning down visible flash in images, you can still see the flatness the flash produces. It’s the way it is. You can use your pop-up flash well by bouncing it off walls and things like that, and if you’re an expert at that more power to you. But moral of the story is, just get an external flash. You’ll really notice a difference.

And lastly,

7. Mistakes Aren’t Always Mistakes.

Whoa, I really threw you for a loop there, didn’t I? Isn’t this whole post about mistakes? Well, yes, but let me explain. You see, sometimes things just happen by accident.  Sometimes you forget to wipe down your mirror while talking a self-portrait.
glam-1And you realize you can add some grain and texture to make it look old timey… and you really like how it turned out. Sometimes you try to cover up the fact that your flash didn’t fire by adding split toning in Lightroom. And you just told all your readers not to do crap like that.



But still, something about your end result is very interesting to you.  Sometimes you take photos on a point and you can see a lens flare.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200


But that photo is one of your favorites of your earlier work, and you still love showing it off. And sometimes you find out that cats are really curious about flashes.



And you end up with a photo where you can physically see the equipment you’re using… but you realize it works.  But if none of those things happen, and the mistake you made didn’t work out in your favor,  you still learn from it. So it’s not really a mistake, it’s a learning tool.

Thanks for reading. If you liked my post hit follow to geek out with me every week! And you can follow me on Twitter: @softlysaturated



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