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Top 5 Mistakes Photographers Make

One of the most convenient places to learn about your camera is you tube and one of my favorite resources is B&H Photo Videos on Not only are the videos easy to follow and short; they are perfect for this hunker down period when we find ourselves more or less inside . Trust me when I say your circle of photography friends diminishes once you keep asking what are your settings?? Google it!! I am SOOOOO guilty of the first one .. and the fourth! With that said here are some of the mistakes photographers make and that are easily corrected with a little educated time behind your computer.

1. NOT KNOWING YOUR CAMERA!!!- You need to know how to change your aperture value, you need to know how to change your shutter speed, your white balance, your ISO and when. KNOW the trinity of photography: your shutter speed, your aperture, and your ISO! These are the fundamentals of photography and I highly recommend you stay in until you understand how these three work together and make no mistake; all three are equally important! - ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture

This Canada Goose was shot at Eagle Beach, Juneau, Alaska.

The Ward Air Super Beaver was shot at Kook Lake, Alaska: it also helps to know your subject! Your shutter speed when shooting planes can be determined (somewhat and helpfully) by knowing the type of engine if you would like the nice movement of the prop!

2. Choosing the Wrong Lense - I have the luxury of having some sound advance years ago when I decided to stop being the ruthless parent finding fault in the reffing of my kids sports; and turned to something more helpful; photographing the games and much to my kids relief, keeping myself quiet! I was told to start with the Canon 70-200mm 2.8; I still use it today after nearly 12 years. An example of the wrong lense for the job would be bringing a wide angle lense to a portrait shoot when a nice 70-200 would do the trick nicely! It allowed me to shoot in the shade (Cody needed to shoot at 1pm; not ideal on a sunny day) and still get a nice sharp picture with a shallow depth of field. The bear was in the shadows all morning and the ability to change from my 400mm to my 70-200 2.8 larger aperture allowed more light in to attain the sharp picture without having to bump up my ISO too high that can lead to a grainy result.

3. Shooting In Bad Light - If the sun is above; you might as well wait at home and surf youtube for videos on getting to know your camera; time better spent! If the sun is above its going to blow out your photos; it's not flattering and it's not comfortable for your subject if you are shooting portraits. The time around sunrise and sunset is much better; you have diffused light and it's more comfortable for your subject and rewarding for you . A cloudy day isn't an indicator to stay home either; if you have a nice light cloud cover you can get a soft light. I do venture out in the rain as well; it is Southeast and I am surrounded by the Tongass National Rainforest. The picture is there if you are willing to look and don't mind getting a little wet. Do protect you gear however. This coastal brown bear was shot in the pouring down rain at Pack Creek just outside of Juneau. I made the choice not to let the weather deter me! One of my favorites from trips with Bear Creek Outfitters.

4. Ignoring the Rules of Thirds - this is all about composition and if you don't understand it your photo is missing that big WOW factor! I think this is the most criticized aspect of my photography... I shoot planes! With that said, with my access to aviation and cool drop off locations, I do get my share of wildlife opportunities. So in a nutshell if you were to divide your frame into a Tic-Tac-Toe board; you place the important elements either horizontally, vertically or on an intersection point. The rule of thirds accomplishes two important things. First, it directs the attention in your photos to create visual flow as illustrated in the above photo of the Coastal brown bear. Remember it doesn't have to be right on but as close as possible. Secondly, it tells people where the most interesting part of the photo is. If centered the eye doesn't know where to travel. I think this is the most criticized aspect of my photography... I shoot planes! With that said, with my access to aviation and cool drop off locations, I do get my share of wildlife opportunities.

It's important to remember that it's not about the numbers; but about what you think is the most interesting and gets weight in the image. The above picture of the Echo Ranch horses garners importance to me as I have a love affair with horses BUT there were interesting elements in the frame that I wanted to share; specifically the mountains, the snow and the blue sky. The horses and their environment were important to me and the fact it was a sunny day and the sky was an amazing blue. The sky received less weight as it was the least important of the elements to me. Your attention, hopefully, is drawn to the beautiful horses enjoying the sun and then your eye is drawn upward to the mountains. In the photo of Pt. Retreat the horizon is up on top and because the sky was less important it is not given much space in the photo. Your eye is drawn to the Pt Retreat lighthouse and then follows up to the landscape and the whale watching boat; your eye has somewhere to go.

Checkout this you tube video on the Rules of Thirds:

5. Shooting JPEG only - Just a short note on this... yes it takes up less space on your card; BUT when you view your files in manual you have the options to recover information and the flexibility to make corrections in post processing.

Have a wonderful day! If you have any questions or comments please add to this blog and please share if you found this helpful!!

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