It's happened to all of us, or at least I'm pretty sure most of us. You get the most awesome opportunity for the best photograph ever and think you've got it....then upload and #fail. What happened? Maybe one of these seven reasons will help explain why. If not, it has happened to me and it will be my chance to wallow in past failures.
1. You didn't use the tripod! Who cares if it's late evening, the sun is mostly down and there is heavy cloud cover. I can hold the camera just as still and it's such a pain in the arse anyways. Actually, a good tripod can be one of the most valuable assets a photographer has, assisting tremendously with sharpness and is absolutely necessary for exposures longer than 1/40th of a second.
2. You treat your ISO like it's the SAT. In trying to overcome #1, you've turned it up to 1600 so you don't need that cumbersome old tripod. The bad news is your photo has more grain in it than a wheat elevator and you'll need some serious noise reduction to overcome it, softening your sharpness and losing a lot of detail. Try to shoot with ISO as low as possible - 100 or so to keep the noise away.
3. Your F-Stop was so-low. You have a beautiful mountain scene with trees and mountains, flower and bears. Photo time! Unfortunately the aperture was set at 4.5 and with a shutter speed of 1/500. This is cool if the bears were running (hopefully away from you) and you're wanting an action shot, but for capturing everything sharply you want your aperture at at least an F11 or higher, depending on your glass for everything to be in focus.
4. Too much or too little exposure. You're shutter speed is slow, your F-stop is low and your ISO is high. Click. Look, a photo as white as this page! Or the opposite, and you get a blank photograph. This happens a lot when you start working with your camera manually, but it doesn't take long for these to go away. I still get them on practice shots because I shoot in manual mode only these days, and haven't perfected the settings I need based on the lighting without some trial and error.
5. Composition is for English majors. You got the awesome sunset picture but the brown dirt field brought it down. Taking a different angle and including a barbed wire fence, a windmill, or even a cow could take it from a nice photo to a great photo in an instant.
6. Everything is turned to plastic. So you found this really cool old barn with a tractor and a pond. It needs a little boost from something but not sure what it is. Lets try this HDR tool....boom! So what if it looks like a space age barn and the colors look like something from a Woodstock acid trip, that's cool! Umm, not really.
7. All we are is dust on the lens. What the heck is that flying saucer above that distant mountain in this photo? Is that a ghost to the left of that tree? Nope, it's a speck of dirt or a water droplet that's dried on the lens. Gotta keep it clean. This has really burned me on storm chases where the humidity hits the cold air and fogs the glass up.
There are plenty more things that can happen from the click of the shutter button to final processing that can blow up a photo. Unfortunately all of these have happened to me in the learning process, but that's part of the fun of learning to be a photographer.
Please share your experiences and let us know what has happened to your photo that left you wanting a re-do!
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