mistakes done by wildlife photographers !

DO shoot in RAW.  

Every DSLR camera (as well as professional mirrorless cameras) has several options in terms of what format you want to shoot in. But for a professional looking shot, says Groo, you’re going to want to shoot in RAW, which produces the most authentic image because it contains minimally processed data. RAW preserves almost all of the information it takes from the scene that you see through your lens, which means that when the times comes to edit your photo, it’ll give you lots to work with. Because of this, some photo contests require you to submit your RAW files along with the final edited version. (FYI: Different brands have their own names for this format—for Nikon it’s .NEF and for Canon, .CR2—so do some research to figure out what the RAW format is called for your camera.)

DON’T add, remove, or manipulate individual elements of the photo.

In general, your edits should affect the image as a whole, rather than specific details. Although it only takes 30 seconds to airbrush out an unsightly branch from your picture of a Black-capped Vireo, edits like this are considered an alteration beyond standard optimization, and that also includes pasting in or clone-stamping out elements. These tools, while sometimes tempting, take a natural scene and make it unnatural, which goes against the ethos of wildlife photography. When it comes to the Audubon Photography Awards, for example, what the judges are looking for is “an honest depiction of that exact moment in nature, just as it appeared when you pressed the shutter,” Groo says. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

DON’T crop too much.

There’s no hard rule for determining how much cropping is too much, but as Groo points out, your goal is to maintain the integrity of the image. Some files will lose too much resolution once cropped beyond a certain point, and there will be a noticeable lack of image quality. You should also consider composition. In general, the space around the bird is important—don’t crop so much that the bird feels squished. If you’ve frozen a bird in flight, for example, make sure you leave some visual space for it to fly into.

DO adjust exposure, contrast, and vibrancy.

Lighting can be unpredictable when you’re out in the field, and even the best photographers will end up with some overexposed shots. That’s where shooting in RAW comes in handy. Using a photo processing application such as Adobe Lightroom, “you can adjust exposure in RAW while recovering the most detail,” Groo says. For example, even if your shot is overexposed, the RAW format will still have data on where the highlights and shadows are, so you can restore them. (Note: If the image is blown-out, there’s no way to recover that information.) 

The same goes with color. If your raw image doesn’t quite capture the bright colors of the bird’s plumage, you can compensate by increasing vibrance, which fills in colors in areas that aren’t already saturated. Avoid increasing saturation, though, as it boosts the colors in the entire photo and can leave you with an unnatural looking image. The underlying principle here, as with all photo editing, is that your adjustments should make your birds more true to real life.

DON’T go crazy with the sharpening.

Unfocused photos are the bane of any photographer. Professional photographers like Rahul and Khushboo will sometimes sharpen their photos to bring out the details of the bird, and you can, too. But sharpen too much and you may end up with noisy pixelation around the bird and an edge, or halo, that wasn’t in the original photo. This can make the details on the bird look hyperreal—or “crispy,” as Rahul puts it. “It’s just as bad as having an unsharpened photo,” she says. As with many things in life, a little goes a long way here.

Photography Mistakes to Avoid and How to Fix Them

1. Not Knowing the Settings on Your Camera

Chances are you just spent hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars on a new camera. You’ll probably be surprised to see the user manual is a puny, poorly written, black and white book that you can’t read without a darn magnifying glass. Fortunately, most camera user manuals are now available online and in PDF format. Your camera may include a disk with the manual, or you can download a PDF version of the manual from the camera manufacturer website.

Before you take another photo, READ THE MANUAL from read the user manual from front to back!!! And when you’re done, read it again!

While you’re going through the manual, be sure to learn how change these key settings on your camera;

  • ISO Sensitivity (you may have manual, presets, and automatic options
  • Internal Camera Menu (learn how to navigate)
  • Exposure Modes (Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority)
  • Shutter Speed
  • Aperture
  • White Balance (auto, preset, manual)
  • File Type (JPEG & RAW)
  • Flash (learn to turn the built in flash on and off)
  • Focusing – Automatic Focus (AF) and Manual Focus (MF)
  • Focusing Modes (Single-servo AF, Continuous-servo AF)
  • Drive (or Burst) Modes (Single, Low Continuous, High Continuous)
  • Format the memory card (it erases your images, so learn to back up your photos)
  • Exposure Compensation
  • Self Timer

2. Not Learning the Basic Photographic Terms and Concepts

You must learn to crawl before you can walk and photography isn’t very different. One of the biggest mistake beginner photographers make is not learning the basic. You have to learn the basics so you have a solid foundation to build upon. You can go from zero to Ansel Adams overnight. Great photos are made with a combination of skill and creativity.

So, take some time to learn about light, the different types of light, and the significant role light has on creating an image. Learn all about ISO and how changing ISO increases or decreases exposure. Get to know the shutter speed and how to stop action or show motion. Learn how ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed are the foundation of photographic exposure. Photography Course has plenty of lessons and courses to help you master the basic.

3. Being Too Afraid to Try Something New

We’re going to start this section with a brief Doctor Phil moment. It’s human nature to fear the unknown. Mastering a new skill can be a frightening experience and you may get overwhelmed as we introduce you to all this complicated photography stuff. Just remember one things – your camera won’t bite, we promise. It won’t talk back, it won’t break (unless you drop it). So, take a deep breath and jump in with both feet.

Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s no exception when it comes to photography. We find a lot of new photographers will learn a few basic settings and stop learning new techniques as soon as their pictures start turning fairly decent. Complacency can make a potentially great photographer average (and possibly a little dull and uninspiring).

4. Being Too Afraid to Try Something New

We’re going to start this section with a brief Doctor Phil moment. It’s human nature to fear the unknown. Mastering a new skill can be a frightening experience and you may get overwhelmed as we introduce you to all this complicated photography stuff. Just remember one things – your camera won’t bite, we promise. It won’t talk back, it won’t break (unless you drop it). So, take a deep breath and jump in with both feet.

Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s no exception when it comes to photography. We find a lot of new photographers will learn a few basic settings and stop learning new techniques as soon as their pictures start turning fairly decent. Complacency can make a potentially great photographer average (and possibly a little dull and uninspiring).

Our response is to overcome your fears and be a BADASS! Aim high and set your sights on learn one new skill a week. Get outside your comfort zone, turn off all those automatic settings, and try something new. Use laser focus to learn everything you can about flash, night photography, depth of field, or white balance. We promise you’ll be glad you did.

5. Staying in Automatic Mode

There are automatic settings for nearly everything on your camera (Exposure, ISO, White Balance, Focus, etc.). Automatic settings makes your life easier because these features do everything for you so you get the best picture possible. The downside to using automatic settings on your camera is they can become a crutch and will hold you back from developing your photography skills. It’s like keeping training wheels on a bicycle; at some point you have to take them off.

If you’re apprehensive about turning off automatic settings, we recommend taking it one step at a time. Going from fully automatic to manual may be too much, too soon. You may want to start with automatic focus. Or, try setting your ISO manually. Once you have grown accustomed to using one manual setting, move on to the next. As you start to migrate from automatic to manual settings is that you will have greater creative control and you will be on the path to making better photographs. Number four on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to wean yourself off automatic settings.

6. Being a Fairweather Photographer

Everyone loves a day in the great outdoors with warm dry weather and the bright sunshine. And you may think sunny days are ideal for photography. But as you become a more experienced and creative photographer, you will soon learn poor weather can be the best time to take photographs. As a matter of fact, shooting in direct sunlight is less than ideal because you have to deal with the harsh sunlight and shadows. It’s easy to take overexposed images under the bright sunlight.

Try taking some shots on a cloudy or partially cloudy day. If you’re an early riser, photography the sunrise, or capture a sunset at the end of the day. Don’t be afraid to head out into the snow or on a rainy day. Take some time to learn about the light and how it impacts your photos. As you start to explore light you will soon learn how soft light is more flattering than direct sunlight. Number five on our beginner photographer mistakes list is to get out in all types of weather.

7. Not Using a Tripod

Certain situations call for the use of a tripod. Generally speaking, a shutter speed at or below 1/60th second requires the use of a tripod. A longer lens focal length and longer exposure will increase the probability of camera shake. This will result is blurred and out of focus images. You need a tripod if your shutter speed is longer than the reciprocal of your focal length. For example, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens and your shutter speed is 1/50th or below, you should use a tripod. 

Tripods are usually required for action and sports photography, interior and evening real estate photography, showing the motion of moving water using a slower shutter speed, close-ups and macro photography, when using a telephoto lens, nature photography, long exposures, landscapes, time lapse photography, self-portraits, night and astrophotography, HDR and multiple exposures, and panning.

Tripods are a “must have” in your photography bag of tricks. Using a tripod will make a difference in your photography because it slows the photo making process. Since you’re taking the time to set up a tripod, you’ll be more conscious of the image you’re taking. When you slow the image making process down, you will make better decisions regarding composition and exposure that will result in better quality photos. So use a tripod whenever you can.

8. Not Changing Camera Settings

If you rely heavily upon automatic settings, then you probably don’t change your settings unless your photos are not turning out. If you’re changing locations, the weather changes, or you’re taking photos at different times of the day, you need to change your settings accordingly.

One example is white balance. A majority of beginning photographers use Auto White Balance (AWB) because they don’t understand exactly what the setting does. White balance sets the color temperature of light in your camera that will be use to take your photo. The purpose of the setting is to calibrate your camera so it produces an accurate rendering of color based on current lighting conditions. White balance is represented in Degrees Kelvin. The white balance in bright daylight is around 5500K, dark shade is 9000K, and interior lights about 3000K.

If you start taking photos on a sunny day and you’re using an white balance of 5500K, then you move indoors, you need to change it to 3000K. The same holds true for ISO. If you’re shooting in the bright sun, you’re probably using the lowest ISO of 100. If you’re still shooting at sunset, you probably need to increase your ISO to 400. The bottom line is you need to get into the habit of checking and adjusting your white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture before each shot if you change locations or shoot at different times during the day (or if the weather changes). Number seven on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to change the settings on your camera.

9. Only Shooting at Eye Level

It’s human nature to shoot standing up with the camera at eye level. It is, after all, how we see the world when we’re not sitting or lying down. Shooting at eye level can seem natural and ordinary, but it can make your photos boring and uninteresting. Change your perspective can have a huge impact on your images.

Try raising the camera above your head or shoot your subject from over 10 feet. Or, crouch down close to the ground and shoot from a low angle. Shooting from different perspective can have a profound impact on your images. Number eight on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to shoot from different angles.

10. Out of Focus Images

Taking images that are out of focus is a common beginner photography mistake. Images end up blurred because of camera shake, failure to focus on the right spot, or using a shutter that is too slow to freeze the action. If your images are not consistently sharp, you may have an issue with focus.

A key skill every photographer must master is taking a sharp image that is in focus (unless you deliberately intend to blur your image for creative purposes). To correct this problem start with turning off auto focus and focus manually. Next, check your initial test shots by previewing your images. Be sure to zoom in so you can see whether the detail of your images is in focus. Be sure your shutter speed is fast enough (at least one over your focal length).  Increase your ISO and shutter speed to get a sharper image and use Image Stabilization or a tripod. So number nine on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to stay in focus.

11. Expecting an Expensive Camera to Make You a Better Photographer

For new and experienced photographers, getting a new camera is fun and exciting. A new camera can motivate you to get out and test drive new features. It can also help you be more creative. A larger sensor and internal processor will certainly produce better quality images, but it won’t make you a better photographer.

Regardless of the camera you’re using, you still need to wean yourself off all those automatic settings and learn to master the basics of exposure and composition. Before going out any buying expensive gear, first work on advancing your knowledge of photography and learn how to fully utilize the features of your camera before buying new gear.

12) Thinking that more expensive photography gear will make you a better photographer

This is a beginner mistake that not only doesn’t help your photography skills develop, it also hurts your wallet! It’s pretty natural for new photographers to want the fanciest cameras money can buy, but if you’re searching for a new camera…do your best to exercise restraint.

Do more expensive cameras with more robust features have tangible benefits? Absolutely, and this is why many professionals use cameras like the Canon 1DX Mark II, Sony a7R III, Nikon D850, etc. But, these benefits require advanced knowledge and skill to fully utilize, making less advanced and more affordable cameras a better fit for new photographers to learn the ropes on. Just like airline pilots don’t start out in the cockpit of a 747, it doesn’t make sense for beginning photographers to start out with the most complex cameras, even if they’re within your budget.

Entry level DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras like the Nikon D3300, Canon T5i, Canon EOS M10, Sony a6000, and many others are priced to be more affordable options, while still offering large sensors and great image quality.

Most entry level DSLR and mirrorless cameras come optionally bundled with a “kit lens” – a general purpose zoom lens like the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens that is great for learning with. Although most new photographers typically decide to invest in additional lenses at some point, it’s a good idea to learn the basics with the more affordable kit lens while you figure out what you really enjoy photographing. Some beginner photographers spend big money buying specialised lenses right away, only to find out that they prefer a genre of photography that doesn’t really call for those type of lenses at all.

Learning to explore the limitations of your current gear is one of the best ways to increase your photography skill. If you’re find that your photos are blurry, dark, or overexposed, you don’t typically need a new camera to solve these issues — you just need to learn more about exposure. A good rule of thumb for beginners to stick with to avoid accumulating photography accessories that seem like a good idea on paper but might never actually get used, is to only buy things when you actually need them. 

13. Not learning the basics of photography

This one is a beginner mistake that unfortunately affects many photographers who have been shooting for a while too. Much of what makes a great photo is that magical stuff called creativity, but there are some basic principles of photography that everyone should take the time to learn first.

Take some time to learn about ISO, shutter speed, and aperture — these form the foundation of photographic exposure. Luckily, there’s plenty of information on the basics of photography online, including here on ItsJustLight, where we have several beginner lessons devoted just to explaining the essentials.

Equally important is learning the capabilities of your camera. Everyone can find the on/off switch and the shutter button, but if you don’t take some time to familiarize yourself with the myriad of features that your camera offers, you’ll be missing out! You don’t have to necessarily read the user manual from front to back, but do your best to learn what all the buttons and menu options actually do and how they can help you take better photos.

14. Thinking you can fix your mistakes later when editing a photo

Something you hear beginners (and even pros) say pretty frequently goes along the lines of, “Oops…there are some hairs across their face in this shot….but I’ll remove them later,” or, “The sky is too bright, but I’ll darken it later.”

It’s true that there’s an awful lot you can do when post-processing a photo using software like Adobe Photoshop CC, but waiting to correct mistakes is time consuming and often results in photos that aren’t as good as they could have been. Do your best to get your photos right in camera — exposure mistakes can be especially difficult to correct, and in many cases if you’ve got totally blown highlights, there’s nothing you can do to restore the lost detail.

15. Leaving horizons crooked

Few mistakes are as common, yet so easily prevented, as crooked horizons. Kind of like forgetting to do up a button on your own shirt, but instantly noticing when someone else has forgotten a button on theirs, crooked horizons can be easy to miss in your own photos, but are often one of the first things other people notice.

The easiest way to prevent crooked horizons is to make sure you carefully compose your photo. Using a tripod makes getting horizons horizontal even easier, and many modern cameras like the Canon 80D, Nikon D7200, and others feature the ability to display an electronic level to verify that horizons are level.

16. Oversaturating photos

The saturation slider can be a dangerous tool! Oversaturation isn’t something limited to photography beginners, but it’s certainly more common among new photographers in particular. Saturated colors can really make a photo “pop”, but it can be tough to know just how saturated is enough, and if you boost the saturation too high, your photos can easily begin to look more like a psychedelic art project and less like a realistic photo.

In Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, both programs bundled in the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, there is often a lot of confusion over how the Saturation and Vibrance sliders differ. Essentially, the saturation slider increases the saturation of all the tones present in the image, whereas the vibrance slider increases the saturation only for tones that aren’t already prevalent and saturated. 

17.Comparing your work to others

One of the toughest beginner mistakes to overcame is the urge to compare your own photography work to others. There’s a lot of value that comes from looking at photography for inspiration, but it can be pretty demoralizing to constantly compare your own skills with that of other photographers.

Wherever you are in your photography journey, there will always be other photographers who are further along on their journey and those who are even farther behind than you. If you’re like most other photographers, there will be times when you find it tricky to be content with where your skills are, but use this as motivation to continue learning and you will see your photography steadily improving — having the ability to critique your own work and see where you can improve is actually a really important part of being a good photographer!


When you’re just starting out in photography, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. This article was written to put you on the path to taking better photos. Beginner photographer mistakes can be corrected by learning the fundamentals of photography basics and how to properly use the settings on your camera. Focus on mastering one skill at a time. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be fearless and most of all, HAVE FUN!!!