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This post was most recently updated on Feb 13th, 2022

When it comes to photography as a beginner, or even as a seasoned pro, mistakes are likely to happen, whether that is from producing blurry shots to including too much stuff within a frame.

Fortunately, they can be fixed and avoided. With some knowledge, as well as simple tricks, taking pictures will become as easy as 1, 2, 3.

This quick guide is here to give you some pointers, as well as help to solve any picture taking issues you may have.

So, let us get started!

Dull Scenes

Sometimes you can take a picture of a great scene, but it lacks color and looks generally dull. The clouds might be overcast, and there is no real depth to the overall picture.

Another annoying thing is that the photograph looks much darker that it actually was, causing the scene to look flat.

This is usually to do with the camera underexposing the light based on its own meter reading, which is a common issue for those who use automatic settings. If this is the case, you can adjust the exposure compensation to avoid this happening.

To do this, find the +/- symbol within the camera’s settings, and go up (+) for a lighter image or or down (-) for a darker image to adjust the light. The latter works when the scene turns out overexposed on a taken photograph.

Blurry Photos

When a picture is blurry, it never looks good, unless that was your intention and it has been done well – which is a difficult thing to do.

Whilst finding 90% of your pictures have turned out blurry might make you want to give up on photography, the best thing to do is learn about what may have gone wrong. Here is how to fix it for next time.

Whilst you might want to use image stabilisation on a lens, it will not save you most of the time, so it is always better to learn how to take blur-free photos.

If you are taking pictures of a moving subject, always use a continuous autofocus mode to help it follow the subject around. Whilst it will not stop images being blurry, it will keep the subject as the main focus.

Also, shutter speed is the number one reason your photos are turning out blurry. Learning the ins and outs of taking images where there is movement is a good way to start.

Some of the basics are that for anything static, you can get away with a shutter speed of around 1/50 and below. If the subject is moving, anything 1/400 and above.

You must always take the lighting conditions into account as well. If the light is low, then the faster you make your shutter speed, the darker the pictures will be.

You can counteract this with ISO, but the higher you go up, the grainier the images will become. Even though it can be difficult, try and photograph low light subjects in the lightest light you can find!

Cannot Get Focus

Autofocus can be a nightmare, especially when it just will not focus on the subject. This is especially true when it wants to focus on something in front of the subject, or behind it.

Changing the focus mode to a single point AF should sort the issue out, because it tells the camera that the focussing will be your choice, not those AF points that you see through the viewfinder.

If you are taking a picture of a portrait, always focus on their eyes. This ensures they are crisp and the centre of attention.

A good trick to get this right is by focussing the AF points onto the eyes, pressing the shorter halfway down to lock focus, and then repositioning the camera to the composition that looks best.

Wrong White Balance

Wrong White Balance

White balance is often overlooked by novice photographers, but it is an important aspect of a photo. Sometimes it can look too cold or warm, and it can even produce a strange cast.

When you take pictures automatically, the white balance is determined by the AWB (automatic white balance). Whilst this is fine, if you want to go one step further, set this yourself.

To do this, get a white piece of card or paper and place it where the subject is. Take a picture of the card or paper filling the frame, and then look through the camera’s menu to find the white balance option.

Use the picture you just took as the selected white balance reading. Once you have finished, put the settings back to AWB.

If you have shot in RAW, you can change the white balance in post-editing software without ruining the quality of the photograph.

Skewed Image

It is easy to forget about the horizon of an image when taking photos. The realization only hits you once you finally look through those photos and see that it looks skewed. Whilst this is extremely common, it is easily avoided.

Unless you make a note of it as you are taking the picture, or using the built-in spirit level on a camera, you can fix it in post-editing software like Adobe Photoshop.

Composition Is Full

When on vacation, you are likely to take pictures without thinking about the subject, but if you want to take these pictures one step further, it is always better to pick out a feature that becomes the focus of the image.

The best photographs are the ones that are simple. A viewer can easily identify what the purpose of the photograph is, without a clutter of subjects and mess that fill the frame.

You can use this technique to build a full story of the vacation, rather than just a collection of busy scenes that do not tell the viewer anything.

Distortion Of Lens

Sometimes a lens can distort an image by causing objects to warp, and add lightness to the edges of a photograph – or vignetting as it is known in the industry.

For example, if you use a wide-angle lens, it can cause things to warp and the perspective to become distorted.

If this becomes an issue for certain subjects, then change the lens. If you already have the images and want to clean them up, then it is possible to do so in Adobe Lightroom.

Using the Basic tab, click on Enable Profile Corrections which will automatically change the distorted areas for you.

Images Lack Sharpness

There are times when you capture a great photo, and once you look at it, you realize it is not sharp. Even though this is annoying, there are a few factors of why this could be the case.

From not focusing properly and camera shake, to movement of the subject, or even focusing on the wrong area – all these can cause an image not to be sharp.

If it is in low light and you want to take a picture of a static subject, use a tripod. You will need to use a much slower shutter speed to allow light to reach through the lens, and even if you think you have a steady hand, it will most likely cause camera shake.

If you are using a wide aperture like f/1.8, then there is a chance the focus might not quite be as sharp as you would like. This type of lens takes practice, and is great for closer portraits.

Increasing the ISO in lower light may help too, especially if you do not have a tripod to hand. Try not to go too high though, otherwise you risk having a grainy picture instead which will also make it unfocused.

Too Much Post-Editing

One of the biggest mistakes novice photographers make is over processing an image. Whilst it might make the colors pop and the subject sharper, it is always obvious.

Use post-editing software as a way to make subtle changes, rather than as an after shooting routine of constantly fixing and altering images. Getting a photograph ‘correct’ in-camera is the best mindset to have about taking pictures.

Final Words

Mistakes do happen when taking photographs, whether you are a beginner or somebody who has been taking pictures for over a decade.

When they happen, you can either learn from it, or edit the photograph using professional software. No matter what you choose to do, there are plenty of ways to fix an oversight.

The best way to think about photography is that you are constantly learning, and mistakes only happen because you were not aware of the issue.

Once you learn about different tips and techniques, you can add them to your photography skills to improve over time.

Now that you are aware that simple faults do happen, next time you experience camera shake or find that the image looks warped, at least you will know what to do to fix the problem, and how to avoid it completely moving forward.