5 Biggest Mistakes That Have Stopped Me Getting Landscape Photography Images
For this months tip I wanted to talk about mistakes. We are all human (I think) and so we make mistakes. Sometimes a mistake is when we forget to do something. Sometimes it’s when we make the wrong decision.
On reflection there are some things that I have done that have meant I missed out on a good image (or good images). There are actually plenty of small things but these are the big ones.
1. Arriving too late
This one is especially a problem for dawn shoots but can also be an issue at the other end of the day.
For dawn shoots the best light can sometimes be before the sun has come up. If you only arrive just in time for the sunrise then you could well have missed the best skies, the most beautiful colours and overall the best conditions. Even if the best conditions are at, or even shortly after sunrise, it’s a good idea to be there early so that you have time to find your composition, check that everything is set up correctly (see points 3 and 4) and then relax and wait for the light.
For evening shoots you may need to shoot sometime before sunset to get the light were you need it one the scene so, if you arrive too late then you’ve missed the shot. Arriving just in the nick of time often means that you’re rushing to find the composition and get everything set up and that leads to missed opportunities.
2. Leaving too early
The sun sets and we’re off, anxious to get back and see what images we’ve captured, or perhaps to get some food or even watch some TV. Dashing off immediately after sunset can mean missing the best of the sky. Once the sun has dropped below the horizon it can often bottom light the cloud and create some wonderful skies. That same light can be reflected down onto the landscape making for a beautiful scene. But you have to wait around after sunset to see it. Sometimes it can take another thirty minutes for the effect to be at its best.
3. Not checking the ISO
This one comes into the ‘forgetfulness’ category. I’ve done this a few times, particularly on morning shoots. You head out, set up, wait for the light, get some great shots, it’s only later that you realise you were shooting at ISO 800 the whole time because you hadn’t reset the camera after shooting some kind of action images that needed a faster shutter speed the previous night. The result is reduced quality images because of noise. I try to get into the habit of checking my camera settings before every shoot and, if I’m waiting around for the right light, I’ll quite often check them again, and sometimes again and again.
4. Not checking focus
So, you’ve been out and the light was superb. The sky was colourful, the scene was beautiful, it couldn’t have gone better. Then you get the images back on the computer, all excited to see how they look, and… they’re all out of focus!
It could be that the aperture didn’t give enough depth of field, or maybe the focus point was wrong. Perhaps you fitted some filters and shifted the focus by accident. I’ve done this lots of times and it’s so frustrating. That’s why I now make a point of checking images to make sure they are sharp. I use the screen on the back of the camera, zoom in to 100% and check the foreground, middle ground and background before I move on to the next shot.
5. Not going out
This is the number one mistake that I make that costs me beautiful images.
Here’s how it goes… I have the time but I look at the weather forecast and it doesn’t look promising. There are not going to be clouds, or there are going to be too many clouds. The wind is too strong for lakes, the sea is too calm for interesting coastal scenes. The sunrise is too early, or the sunset is too late. Or I have some pictures to review, or some video to edit and, anyway, it doesn't look like it's going to be any good today.
Whatever the reason I decide that today is not a good day to get good images, and so I don’t go out.
Quite often it’s this days that the sky catches fire around sunset, or the wind drops at that perfect time of day when the light will make for stunning reflections.
OK, sometimes that doesn’t happen and, if I had gone out, I may not have got any good images but, if I don’t go out I guarantee that I won’t get any images whereas, if I take the chance I might get something great, or I might not.
These are my top 5 mistakes. What are yours?