Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hi guys! It’s been a while since my last post. I'm sorry. You see, my fiancée and I are still editing the save the date video and I was busy doing stuff for our upcoming trip to Korea. Yes. Korea! =) I'll be posting my photos from the trip so watch out for that! =)

Anyway, the last blog was about (excluding the dslr test) the rules of composition. Those were the things that you should do. This week, I’m going to show you the things that you shouldn’t do. I have to admit, I do make a lot of mistakes too and I only see them when the pictures are in my computer already. Sometimes, I only see them after editing them! So without further ado, here are some of my own personal mistakes:

1.Don’t place your subjects' faces near the edge of the photograph. Give them some space to look into. An example is this:

As you can see, the subject's face is really in front of the edge of the photo. Her face should be facing the other way.

Your subject doesn’t really have to be looking sideways for this rule to work. For example:

She is looking at the camera but her body is facing a bit towards the nearer edge of the photograph. It looks a bit unnatural isn’t it?

Doing this to your subject is the equivalent of “talk to the hand” in photography. These mistakes deserve a stereotypical African American “Oh no you didn’t!!!” remark with accompanying head bobbing and finger snaps tracing the form of an invisible letter Z.

2. Don’t forget to check your focus. Make sure that you are focused on your subject. If you’re using a manual lens or if your autofocus is set on single point, make sure that the subject is what’s in focus. Look at this photo for example:

As you can see on the photograph, what’s in focus is the wood instead of the hands. The hands are the subject so why the hell is the friggin splinter on the wood in focus? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I was too busy focusing manually and composing the shot that’s why I neglected to check the viewfinder thoroughly. I was too preoccupied. So maybe it’s a good thing that I am a photographer because if I was a carpenter and I was easily preoccupied, then there’s a 95% chance that I don’t have a complete set of fingers now.

Although sometimes, breaking the rule can give you better shots. For example, in this photo, the subject is blurred giving it a "dramatic" look:

But again, if you're breaking a rule, make sure that it looks intentional. In the photo above, the subject is so blurred that it can only be thought of as intentional. However, if you look at the photo of the hands working on the wood, there's not much difference in terms of blurriness. I guess it can pass with ordinary people. But when photographers look at it, it whispers "accident".

3. Don’t make your subjects look like they came from a movie shoot of the 101 Dalmatians.

The subject was in the shade that’s why it resulted in a dappled light. Dappled light has its place in photography but not in portraits. Portraits generally should use soft light. Why? Because harsh lights will accentuate the angles of the face. It will give your subjects a “gaunt” look. But sometimes, harsh lights are pretty good too. Again, if it looks good, then it looks good. Period. Anyway back to dappled light, these kind of light usually works in landscape photography. It gives depth to the image. But use that in portraits and you just effectively made your subject look as if she has a lot of cancerous moles.

4. Don’t be afraid of your subject. Fill the frame up with your subject.

Look at the photo above. I was so far from the subject. I guess it’s okay if you’re on a tour or if the background is beautiful but it’s not. It just looks plain. So don’t be afraid of approaching your subject. (but if she’s really scary, stand back as far as you can and then just zoom!) Here’s an example of what filling up your frame can do:

5. Don’t use the pop up flash. Direct flash is seldom, good. Look at the example below:

No, these overly white women with shimmering, shiny skin are not new characters from the very famous Twilight saga. These friends of mine are not vampires. (or are they?...) Anyway, the subjects’ faces are so blown out, it looks so flat. “So what the hell am I supposed to do?!” Bounce your flash. “Huh?” The explanation is this. SMALLER LIGHT SOURCE = HARSH. LARGER LIGHT SOURCE = SOFTER. So that’s why you bounce the flash. If, for example, the flash hit the ceiling, the light will bounce off of it downwards. And since the ceiling is big, doing this will effectively make it a larger light source. I’ll show you the shot where I bounced the light to the ceiling to give you an idea of how it looks and well, mainly because these girls will kill me if I just ended this without showing you the better shot so please... Please look at the example below:

It’s much better right? Huge difference! It’s more natural. They look so much beautiful. That’s the main reason why photographers buy flash guns. Flash guns have moveable heads so you can point it at ceilings, walls, etc. If you don’t have a flash gun, you can easily do so by sticking a white cardboard in front of your flash at around 45degrees so the light will bounce off the ceiling and wall.

There are a lot more don’ts in photography but these are the faults that I usually (unknowingly) do. I have to admit though, I didn’t know I committed mistakes on some of my photos until I purposely searched them to use for this blog. So please don’t be too harsh on yourselves. Everyone makes mistakes. Just be aware so next time, you can avoid it (unlike me). =)


  1. Good post! More of the advises i knew but never use because when you shoot you brain busy with other aspects and you miss this useful things.

  2. @Yuriki: Thank you! =) Just keep shooting. Don't think too much about rules. I usually learn by making mistakes. So when I see a mistake while reviewing and I realize that it really doesn't look good, I try not to commit the same mistakes again... Usually. =)

  3. really helpful! will definitely use them! :)