7 Bad Habits of Digital Photographers

This is a special guest-post from a new friend of mine, Antoine Khater. Check the bottom of this post for his bio, and don’t forget to visit his photography blog!

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I have been taking pictures seriously for about 5 years and been around major photography forums for about the same time. Here are, compiled in one post, the 7 bad habits of digital photographers…

1. NOT DOUBLE CHECKING YOUR GEAR BAG

It never happened to you? It sure did to me! I can’t remember how many times I went shooting just to notice later on that I forgot the CF cards at home. Just a few months ago my wife and I took a photography trip to Croatia and I totally forgot to pack the battery charger with me! So if you are as clumsy as I am, maybe you should trust your wife in packing things up for you.

2. NOT DOUBLE CHECKING ISO SETTINGS

This is surely one of the most common post subjects you will find if you linger long enough in Digital Photography forums. We are all somehow used to reaching for our ISO settings button just when we need to go “higher” and we too often take it for granted that the camera is set to the “correct” one every time we take it from the bag. And that is why so many people are asking for the ISO setting to be displayed in the viewfinder, until then and to avoid surprises, good or bad, make sure to double check that ISO setting every time you turn your camera on.

3. I’LL GET THIS STRAIGHT LATER

Let me first say that I have nothing against Photoshop or any other kind of photo retouching I even pointed out some times ago an easy way to correct tilted pictures in the digital dark room. However I believe that if you can get it right on the field it is better. So if you have the bad habit of tilting your pictures, here are 6 tips that will hep you get them straight next time.

4. I SHOOT RAW, I DON’T CARE ABOUT EXPOSURE

RAW is wonderful tool and gives us, photographers, a great deal of flexibility during post processing. The ability to tweak the exposure in RAW should be used ONLY within limits — blown highlights and and underexposed shadows can’t be recovered. So make sure to always get the exposure right.

5. DELETING PICTURES TOO FAST

Well I’m writing this specially for myself! I delete pictures faster than I take them sometimes… Here is a recent article from LightChasers explaining why we should never be doing this.

6. BETTER BODY INSTEAD OF BETTER LENS

I guess it is just a human nature but every time a new camera is released we have all tendency to become green with envy and deep down we should know that we would be much better investing in a better lens than in a better camera.

7. BLAMING THE MATERIAL

And, of course, on the TOP of the list “Blaming the material”! When we do not manage of getting a decent picture we go like “AH if only I had that lens!” but if someone looks at a nice pictures of ours and says “Wow you should have a nice camera!!!” We go crazy… Anyway, remember folks, it is always the photographer never the Camera.

Again, I’d like to thank Antoine for this wonderful guest-post he’s written for us, and remember to check out his website: All Day I Dream About Photography.
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71 thoughts on “7 Bad Habits of Digital Photographers

  1. libeco

    For me point 1 is easy as I still have everything in one bag. When I get more gear over the years this might change though. Number two is something I hve done several times already. I should just make it a habit to check my ISO before taking a picture…

  2. mullingitover

    I’ve gotten over all these bad habits. The lenses are a killer though: I’ve spent over four times as much money on lenses as on the camera. The bills for L series glass add up quick.

  3. Addison C

    Great set of reminders. I’ve been guilty of not checking my ISO when i transition from an event that’s indoors to oudoors… then summarily pounding my head into a pillar at the realization of how many blown out shots I had >_>

  4. Tom

    #1 just gets worse the more bags you get. “Crap, I left that in my landscape bag!”. I’ve starting with sub bag groupings. Grab the filter kit, the flash card folio, … Every bag has a body cloth and a lens cloth.

    Change #2 to a more general “Check your settings”. For me this would be remember when you take off the flash extender that the flash zoom is on manual.

    #8 Remember to lock the ballhead before you let go.

    #9 Bring lots of batteries. Twice as many as you think you need.

    #10 Remember all of the non photographic equipment: suntan lotion, bug spray, gloves, …

  5. Ken

    #’s 3 and 4 are practically gospel in the studios that I work.

    I hate when people say we can just fix that in Photoshop. If we can shoot it right the first time, just do it.

    And don’t get me started on RAW, I’m amazed at how badly peoples photos come out because they think RAW it he end all solution for not learning how to properly meter and expose your images.

  6. subcorpus

    number four … shooting raw …
    had a conversation about shooting raw earlier today …
    some claim that its a waste of space on the memory card …
    hehe … but i think (slow writing speeds apart) … its a good tool …
    thanks for pointers … appreciated …

  7. Joska

    Actually when I was reading the reminders I was thinking ‘yea, that’s just you’ all the time. None of that stuff ever happens to me. Maybe you should change the title to “7 reminders for clumsy people” :-P

  8. libeco

    It depends on what camera you own I guess. Previously I used a Fuji S9500 (S9100 in the US I believe?). One RAW file took 8 seconds to write away. My current 400D (digital Rebel XTi in the US) will only stop firing after the bufer is full with 11 RAW pictures, which I think is not really a limitation for me… :-)

  9. photography

    i really agree on the iso part. i cannot tell you how many times i’ve happily snapped away and only find out much later that i was on the wrong iso setting :( :( :(

  10. fishnix

    good tips, but this should be 7 Bad Habits of *Beginner* Digital Photographers. i was expecting some real photography tips. excuse my trolling :)

  11. John Meadows

    Great article!

    I’ve been bitten by #1 both for photography and mobile sound recording, so for me now the only thing that lets me sleep at night is having a checklist (an actual physical piece of paper!) of what I need to carry

  12. Pirate

    Why is “Blaming the Material” at the top of the list, yet you list it last…at the bottom of the list?

  13. Leigh

    This sounds like me. Just recently I was shooting my 1st & last wedding for a good friend and I left my CF cards at home. Not checking my gear like I should of cost me some shots, but luckily my wife brought her cards.

    I always try to blame the material when it does not turn out the way I wanted. We always try to blame something else than ourselves.

  14. Greg Nichols

    Wow, the first time I screwed up important pictures was my sister’s wedding, when I somehow changed the shutter speed (by accident) which, along with the flash sync, caused 1/2 of the pictures to be fine, but the other half to be perfectly dark. Most of the wedding shots showed my sister perfectly, her husband was not visible. They divorsed some years later, saved me from having to “cut him out” of the pictures ;>)

    Seriously, ever since then I check the shutter settings after each shot, this way I can re-shoot if I somehow changed a setting without realizing it.

  15. Mr.Chips

    The problem is that we are used to just shoot pictures with our digital cameras in Auto mode.. and we think that because we have the best camera in the block, we will get the best picture…. The reality is that a photographer is much more than a fancy and expensive camera…….

  16. Antonio

    Great stuff, I am guilty of all of them! I think 7 should be taken lightly, I have taken bad pictures because my lens was too slow, or because the aperture range was not wide enough. Also, some lenses are too soft on the long end, or have an intrinsic slow focusing…you may have the right exposure, the right angle and the right ISO settings, but be failed by the inability of the lens to handle the situation (it vindicates point 6)

  17. Leica M4

    Duh! What was the intent of this article? Anyone that can read an intro photo book should know these tings, are you a neophyte with an epiphany? What about the biggest error: Not getting up close to your subjects???

  18. Brian Auer

    How is not getting up close to your subjects a bad habit?

    Personally, I think the worst bad habit of digital photographers is trolling in forums and blog comments.

  19. Ted

    Yes, FLASH every picture. It is amazing the results you can get ven when you do not think about it.
    Thanks so much.

  20. Sandra

    hahhah so true, although i’ve never forgot anything i know how it looks when your blaming the gear for a bad pic…i must have said a thousand times “i wish i had that lens or omg i cant belive im writing this filter”

    lol i know i know it’s crazy but vanity is a wonderful thing

    cheers mate

  21. zach

    soemtimes the lens is a bad option…
    I have boght a new temron 18-200 lens ,i think to return it back or boy a new 70-200

  22. zach

    and also chnging settings accordingly : last week i was shoting young basketers, i had to more than 3 times change the ISO settings and WB settings

  23. Matt Gabriel

    Back in the time where camera bodies were simply light-tight boxes you stored your film in, I would absolutely agree that nice, new lenses trump nice, new SLR bodies.

    That’s no longer the case. A new generation camera body is a new generation of image capture technology – the reson to run out and buy the latest and greatest isn’t to get a new auto-exposure bell or AF whistle, it’s to dramatically improve the quality of the image being captured with the imager (the system comprised of the capture chip and the image processor). In the digital age, you’re essentially buying your film when you buy your camera body, and going from Ektachrome 100 to Provia F is worth the extra grand.

    So, realistically, you need to balance both. Crappy lenses look especially crappy with nice imagers, and a crummy imaging system brings even the priciest glass down to its level.

  24. Andrew Ferguson

    I am *extremely* guilty of number three. It’s getting to the point that I might return to the workflow I had when I started working with a DSLR: I completely removed the cropping/straightening step. I’d allow myself colour correction, exposure, and sharpening but any alterations to the original composition were strictly off the table.

    In some cases it worked well, but I’m notorious for having tilt-neck. I can’t tell straight to save my life.

  25. Sam

    Point No 4 misses the mark by some distance: “So make sure to always get the exposure right.”

    What IS the right exposure with digital? It’s not the same as with film. And what part does software play in exposure?

    http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/2007/12/31/exposure-reduction-for-highlight-retention/

    http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/2007/12/29/digital-exposure-noise/

    http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/2007/12/16/when-blocked-up-shadows-aren%e2%80%99t-really/

  26. David reed

    I have fallen victim to most of these offenses. I made a simple checklist and try to put everything back in it’s proper place when done. Forgot my extra set of flash batteries for a corporate event awhile back. Luckily there was a store nearby for a battery run.

  27. BillRogers

    #8 has to be “chimping instead of looking at the subject.” See page 68 of Joe McNally’s book, The Moment it Clicks. As Joe says, “You can miss a lot of moments with your head stuck in your LCD. Checking what just went on is a surefire ticket to missing what’s about to go on.”

  28. vietfun

    Regarding #2, forgetting to set ISO, Nikon’s autoISO feature on new D3 and D300 is the solution. Once you set ISO range saying 100 min & 25,600 max (only Nikon D3 could offer that high), you never have to worry about ISO no more. Is that cool? I wish the next DSLR from Canon will have this feature.

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  30. learn to draw

    Your number 7 rule here was king when i taught electric guitar to students when i was in college for extra pocket money.

    You have no idea how many times i heard “if I only has a les paul standard/studio/custom then I would be able to play properly”

    Never mind that their $300 guitar sounded fine and produced notes just as accurately as a $4,000 les paul gold top.

    No matter what art whether drawing, music, photography, painting, or sculpture, a true artist will make art with whatever he/she has at their disposal.

  31. Houston Lawyers

    I am a novice photographer in Houston Texas, and I had question about your number 6. Aren’t better lenses often more expensive than a better camera? I wonder where the diminishing return would be between the two. Anyhow great post, thanks!

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