Too many bad pictures in your filmroll ?

Nova Black & White

Nova Black & White by Ravages

Why do I have so few good pictures after a day of shooting ? That’s a question that most of us have had. After a long photo walk outside, you come home, start to sort out your pictures and notice that only few of them are worth something. Bad exposures, un-sharpness, you missed a detail that ruined the shot, or simply you realize that the picture is banal.

There is no easy answer, you might lack focus on your work, or maybe you are just pressing the shutter too much for no good reason. Consider the following points:

  • Think twice or thrice before pressing the shutter release. What is this picture about ? is my composition perfect ? What about the light, does it come from the correct direction? Is there any shadow in the way, maybe even your own ?
  • Do you take the same image more than once ? Is it really necessary ? I get it for pictures where action is happening, but I see photographers pressing the shutter release 2 or 3 times in a row for a still subject. Sure, there is no harm in doing so, but I don’t see the benefit either, you are just creating extra work.
  • On the other hand, do not hesitate to retake a picture that you borked. If you think you missed a detail, rather than post processing the photo, redo the shot. And while you’re at it, learn from your mistakes
  • There is no perfect picture, you can always find something that could have been done better. A different photographer would have had a different take on the same subject. Submit your pictures to the critics of your fellow photographers, and most of all, submit the ones which you are unsure about. You might be surprised !

A shot that you missed is also a great opportunity to learn. Ask yourself, why is this picture bad ? That’s the easy part, mostly it will be flagrant. Then ask yourself, how could I have avoided this ? a few examples:

  • A blurry picture ?
    • Did you stand still ? Is your shooting position correct ?
    • Was the shutter speed too slow ? Take into account the movement speed of the subject and your focal to estimate the slowest shutter speed you can use.
    • Where you shooting in a dark environment ? Prefer higher ISO over slower shutter speed
    • What about focus ? Did you reframe after focusing ? Were you to close ? Did you select the correct AF point ?
    • Are the eyes of your subject tack sharp ?
  • The light looks bad ?
    • Where does the light comes from ? For example, avoid lights coming from the bottom on portraits.
    • Did any unexpected shadows creep in the image, maybe flare ?
    • Did you shoot in the summer in the middle of the day or did you prefer to wait for the golden hour ?
    • Did you have control over the white balance ? Are many color temperature mixing in the same image ?
    • Where are the shadows ? Where are the highlights ?
  • Does you picture looks banal ?
    • Are you respecting the rule of third ? Are you using diagonals to create tension ?
    • What is your subject ? What were you trying to show through the image ?
    • Is your subject too small, or not visible enough ?
  • Is your image too dark or too bright ?
    • Did you check your exposure level indicator before releasing the shutter ?
    • Did you compensate the exposure ? Expose darker for picture with a majority of bright tones and vice versa.
    • Did you favour to have you subject perfectly lit rather than the background ?
    • Did you expose to the right ? A slightly overexposed¬† image is easier to darken, than the opposite.
    • Did you need a tripod ?

Be self-critical, select only you best pictures, you wont make any sparkles by publishing hundreds of pictures with a few gems buried among them. You should rather limit the pictures you publish to only the ones that are top notch. Keeping fewer shots means that you will keep the best ones.

That’s all folks. I didn’t go into the details here, I will be doing articles more detailed on some points in the future.
Feel free to comment if you disagree, or if you got anything to say on the matter.

Film 4 by Fotograf Zahl

Film 4 by Fotograf Zahl

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