janzin

Tell me your dumb photo mistakes on safari!

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I can't be the only photographer who has made some really stupid mistakes. I'm not talking about mistakes a beginner makes because they just don't know better--I'm talking about really, really dumb errors that are made in the heat of the moment. We've all set the ISO for poor light at sometime and forgotten to change it when the sun came out, etc.

 

Fortunately I always shoot RAW, so some mistakes can be fixed--but not all.

 

I bring this up because on my recent trip I seemed to make an unusual amount of REALLY DUMB MISTAKES! I am kicking myself, so please let me know I'm not alone in this.

 

I think my worst mistake--and I made this not once but TWICE--was failing to realize that my 200-500 lens was zoomed out to 200. This happened once when shooting a cheetah with cubs in the distance, and again with a serval that was hunting. I was just so excited, I think, that I didn't realize I wasn't zoomed all the way in! And I'm so mad at myself because I would have had GREAT shots if I'd been zoomed to 500, but now I have really poor shots at 200. Just KICK me!! In fact I didn't even realize this until I was home, going through the photos.

 

This is not something that can be saved :(

 

Another time, shooting a cheetah up on a termite mound, I was dialed in with +1.7 exposure. That was perfect; then cheetah came down off the mound and a cub came out and I got so excited I forgot to dial it back. So of course all shots of the cheetah cub are over-exposed! Luckily, with RAW I am able to fix this. Still, at the time I wasn't sure (they looked sooo bad) and I was practically in tears for messing up my once-in-a-lifetime cutest ever cheetah cub!

 

And more than once, although I was using back button focus, in the heat of the moment I just forgot to keep my finger on that button....so of course, out of focus shots. No fix for this, either.

 

There are more, but I'll stop there for fear of embarrassing myself even more.

 

Luckily, for all these mistakes there were plenty of other shots that were excellent--the advantage of over-shooting!

 

So what stupid things have you done?

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@@janzin Yep, I've been guilty of all of the above. But hopefully you / I have learned from our mistakes.

 

About 5 years ago I made a similar error as you described with your cheetah on a mound scenario, although my error was of a raptor in flight and resulted in severe underexposure. At the time I was using Aperture priority mode, if I had used the same settings in Manual exposure mode the exposure would have been perfect.

 

From that day on I made a conscious effort to always use Manual exposure. I now get the exposure right 95% of the time and I can adjust the 5% errors in post. There was a learning curve but it has made me think. I also try to keep the excitement level to a minimum and remain coldly logical no matter what I'm seeing through the viewfinder.

I go through the same routine ~ Do I have correct exposure? and do i have good in camera composition?

 

Although, upon arriving home from my latest trip, for a brief horrible moment I thought i had formatted a memory card that did have 4000+ images on it without downloading to my computer.

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As embarrassing as this sounds .......... I had the view finder shut and it took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on ......... It must have happened when I cleaned the camera after the previous safari. My brain froze as I was in the middle of the elusive Black Panther sighting in Kabini last weekend and thought that I had lost the opportunity ............

 

Too many dumb mistakes - I can possibly write a book!

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Posted (edited)

hah! @@madaboutcheetah and @@Geoff thanks for posting, I was starting to think I was the only one. Or maybe others are just to embarrassed to admit it!

Edited by janzin

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Posted (edited)

@@janzin

Although, upon arriving home from my latest trip, for a brief horrible moment I thought i had formatted a memory card that did have 4000+ images on it without downloading to my computer.

 

Wow, that would have me in a cold sweat! I try to make sure to download every day on safari, even if the card isn't full, just to be safe. If I have a really amazing sighting I might even download twice in a day.

 

But I'm not sure that keeping the excitement level to a minimum and staying coldly logical is possible for me...or even desirable! However, next trip I will try to stay more focused--no pun intended. This amount of errors has never happened to me before, I can only chalk it up to the non-stop sightings we were having. There was little time to take stock of what I had!

 

It also may be a bit of "new camera, new lens". First time I've taken the D500 and the 200-500 on a major trip, although I've had both for awhile.

Edited by janzin

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It also may be a bit of "new camera, new lens". First time I've taken the D500 and the 200-500 on a major trip, although I've had both for awhile.

 

 

 

@@janzin If you're like me and tend to use prime lenses most of the time I find I have to readjust to zooms when on safari.

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As a rubbish photographer I am probably not really for this thread but my wife's favourite mistake that I have made -and there have been many-was on a early morning drive in the KTP seeing a Brown Hyena and dropping the camera and 75-300 L series lens onto the floor of the truck flush on the front of the lens.then pretending everything was ok, and having to use a knife back at the camp to gently prize off the filter glass than very luckily saved the lens itself-but is now so cross threaded that I dare not remove it- a constant reminder of my clumsiness. For some reason she prefers this to the time when walking around Brownsea island I had persuaded her to carry my photo bag for me-i took the rucksack with sandwiches and tea-and managed to get a fine shot of a red squirrel, only to discover that I had forgotten to check the battery and failed to bring a spare!

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As a rubbish photographer I am probably not really for this thread but my wife's favourite mistake that I have made -and there have been many-was on a early morning drive in the KTP seeing a Brown Hyena and dropping the camera and 75-300 L series lens onto the floor of the truck flush on the front of the lens.then pretending everything was ok, and having to use a knife back at the camp to gently prize off the filter glass than very luckily saved the lens itself-but is now so cross threaded that I dare not remove it- a constant reminder of my clumsiness. For some reason she prefers this to the time when walking around Brownsea island I had persuaded her to carry my photo bag for me-i took the rucksack with sandwiches and tea-and managed to get a fine shot of a red squirrel, only to discover that I had forgotten to check the battery and failed to bring a spare!

 

ah yes, the going out with a dead battery error! That's just as bad as going out without a card in the camera! (I've done both here at home, but fortunately never while traveling!) :rolleyes:

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My dumbest mistake involves mixing the SD cards; the day before we have photographed our daughter at an re-enactment show using and shooting with an ancient rifle. Next day in Cotswold a storm came and right after the storm, those perfect light. The card in the camera is full, I pull out new one from the bag, it was locked, I cursed and unlocked it and format it ... and yes, it was the one we have filled the day before. Please do not tell this to our daughter :wacko: !

 

Consequence #1: SD cards are stored in two separate plastic bags, one with bold EMPTY and the other one with bold FULL written on them

Consequence #2: I have been told to stay away from camera(s) as much as possible

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All of the mistakes already described are mine, and many more. I remember I was so excited about seeing our first Gibbons in Assam that I did not realize I was not zoomed out at all! Forgetting to change back settings is a staple of mine, especially when I set high ISOs and spot metering at night, it´s a pretty safe bet the first half hour in the morning will be a waste, and not even RAW can change that.

 

And I still don´t have any "photographer´s instinct" to adjust settings when something unexpected happens, that´s why I could not do more than just click away with totally wrong settings when a Lion suddenly took down a Kudu in Mana Pools in front of us.

 

And not even talking about all blotched bird shots with wrong aperture.

 

But hey, I´m still very much a beginner. :)

 

A very dumb thing from this summer: I mostly went hiking this year with the big lens (always hoping for Chamois, Ibex or some interesting mountain birds). Back at the car I left the camera bag open so it could dry a bit. Back home I had forgotten about that, took the bag and the camera fell out and on the floor. A nasty, very painful sound when it "thudded" on concrete - I was very lucky that only the lens ring broke and nothing else was damaged. Even luckier a friend had a spare lens ring he no longer needed.

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Last January in Mara North Conservancy, I had an African Crake flush and fly a short distance near our vehicle. Sadly, I left my 100-400mm lens set at 200mm as I began snapping photos.

 

I could kick myself for the blunder!

 

Got a couple of decent photos but they would have been much better at 350 or 400mm!

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@@janzin

 

I had to chuckle when I saw this thread, because I have certainly done the exact same things you describe. The worst example was our seeing a very unexpected action scene, when a black rhino bull suddenly charged and then chased two white bulls. I had my 80-400mm lens and, you guessed it, photographed the entire sequence at 80mm. Ugh!

 

And now for two of my own mistakes, one due to a lack of discipline, the other due to sheer stupidity, both of which I have committed more times than I care to admit.

 

First would be a failure to check my LCD screen/histogram frequently enough. This is especially critical when spot metering. For example, earlier this year in Costa Rica, I was photographing some toucans feeding in palm trees near our lodge. The morning light was perfect and I had multiple unobscured views, so I intently focused on trying to get that perfect shot where the toucan tosses a fruit in the air and then leans its head back to catch it in its immense beak. After about 5 minutes, the toucans flew off and I excitedly lowered my camera to review all those award-winning shots that I knew I had managed. And there were some really good shots -- at least I think they were. They were so dark and seriously underexposed that it was hard to make out much of anything. I was crushed! If only I had had the discipline to check my LCD screen after the first few shots, I could easily have made the necessary adjustments. I don't think I've made that mistake again recently.

 

I wish I could say the same about the stupid mistake that I have made so many times, I've lost count. It usually happens early on in a hike or drive. We're just getting underway, I'm excited and rested and brimming with anticipation about what the day will bring. Then we see something great. I quickly raise my camera and -- it's all dark. Yep, forgot to remove the lens cap. Doh!

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Posted (edited)

HAH, I'm SO relieved that others have also done the "forgotten to zoom out" thing! I was so mad at myself at this and of course thinking, no decent photographer would ever do something so dumb :D Well I know @@michael-ibk , @@offshorebirder and @@Alexander33 are all excellent and experienced photographers so I feel a little better now!!

 

And of course, as Alex mentioned about, forgetting (or just being too excited) to check the histogram or at least the LCD is a critical error, but in the heat of the moment...and fearing to miss the shot...its so easy to NOT do. If I'd checked the LCD when shooting the cheetah cub, of course I would have noticed how over-exposed everything was!

 

How did we ever get ANY decent photos when we shot film?? :rolleyes: (Well, some of you may be too young to have ever shot film...I don't know.)

Edited by janzin
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well nothing happens when I occasionally have my fingers on the side zoom controls and the shutter at the same time

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How about taking out a lens and camera body from different systems together in my bag? Fortunately, not on safari. Unfortunately I still had to carry three paperweights around all day for nothing.

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Well, my mistakes are always the same and I never ever learn of them, which is the worst.
When I see something interesting I often just photograph and forget to check the settings. I think, it´s just that I am too excited of what happens that I forget the routines.
After a while I think. "Ohoh the settings." Hopefully they´d been okay or I have time to shoot again, which is in wildlife often not possible.

Knowing my foolishness, before going on a game drive I set my camera on what I think would not do to much harm on whatever scene appears. I do this on siesta time and after getting up in the early morning.

I once forgot to do this and we came to a tree filled with carmine bee-eaters and I had the perfect shot of one flying. Bright day light, high ISO, gimme some noise.

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  • on screen warnings has got rid of people taking phots with the lens cap on

I use the camera 's auto settings and find them pleasing

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I was trying to photograph bats in Gomantong caves in Borneo. I couldn't figure out why my flash wasn't working properly. Turns out there's this plastic lens for close up work that had come down over the bulb and so it was limited to low power. By the time i had got internet to check the manual I had lost the opportunity to photograph the bats in the cave but at least the flash was operating correctly.

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I think probably the only reason I haven't taken photos at closest zoom is because I use prime lenses. I have certainly made pretty much all the other mistakes mentioned above.

 

I do think there is one good thing here: we are still able to get excited! If this is the price for mistakes, I will gladly continue paying.

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I've made a lot of these mistakes, but I'll offer a different one. I have my camera on a neck strap, which is fine most of the time but if I want it out but am going to be walking and don't expect to use it a lot I will put it over my shoulder "upside-down" (essentially strap on my left shoulder, then crossing the body so that the camera is on my right hip, with the top facing my body). This keeps the camera from moving around too much, which is good, but means the shutter and top wheel are rubbing against my body as I move. I'll often come home with several abstract photos of my feet. The bigger issue is that the wheel controls shutter speed, and so sometimes I'll have camera switched to either the maximum or minimum shutter speeds. This past February, we were trekking through farmland on our way to the gorillas in Rwanda, when I saw a lone lady, dressed in red working the green field with foggy mountains behind her. I thought it would make a great photo, but we were walking quite quickly and had to make it quick. Well, I took my camera, composed, and pressed the shutter - only realizing at that point that my shutter had been accidentally changed to 30 seconds. I ended up with an all-white exposure, and given the pace of the rest of the group didn't have time to wait out the long exposure. I'm still disappointed by that mistake...

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On a trip to the air museum at RAF Duxford (UK) to photograph metal pigeons (Spitfires, etc) I set off with batteries fully charged. When I arrived on site I discovered they were nearly flat and I hadn't brought the in-car charger.

 

It turned out I had left the camera switched on in the bag and it had turned upside down and rested on the shutter release. I had no spare batteries with me in my early days of digital photography so I learned several valuable lessons.

 

1) Switch the camera off when putting it away or in a bag, don't just rely on it going into standby mode.

2) Always have a full set of spare batteries.

3) Always take chargers when away from home including a car charger.

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Well, it's good to know that I am not alone. My biggest errors continue to be:

  1. Forgetting to change settings back (ISO, exposure compensation, removing filters after use, etc)
  2. Letting the excitement get the best of me and not checking the histogram to figure out #1 fast enough.

I have made the above two mistakes more than I care to admit and continue to do so unfortunately. That, and a bunch of other reasons, is why photography is an expensive hobby and nothing more :).

 

Of course I have done other stupid things too like:

  1. Knocking the camera off the hotel bed and breaking the only wide angle lens I had. This was the day before a cruise in the Norwegian fjords so I had to scramble to find a camera shop in Bergen the next morning to buy a waaaaaay overpriced replacement lens. I am now VERY careful about where cameras are left and make doubly sure straps aren't hanging down.
  2. Forgetting a battery charger on our first trip to Costa Rica. Luckily, another guest at Bosque del Cabo had one and I was able to charge my battery multiple times thanks to them. Since then I carry backup batteries and have a equipment checklist. I have not repeated that mistake fortunately.
  3. Not checking my tripod before another trip to Costa Rica. When I unpacked it I realize one of the legs was loose and I didn't have an Allen wrench to fix it. So, I spent the whole time working with a tripod that had a "dead leg" basically that I would have to kick out into place every time I set it down. I got pretty coordinated with that by the end of the trip but it was not fun.

There is more too but if I write it down I might have to grab a cocktail to cope with the memories and it's too early for that...or is it ;) .

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I also carry my camera like that when it's on a strap.

 

Fortunately Nikon's on-off switch is very easy to use, so I don't have these problems.

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Just gone away for a few days in the uk. Thought I may catch some birds while I am here, so I grabbed the camera bag as I left. Half way here on the motorway and I realised I didn't pick up the zoom lens :(

 

No more for my big year now....

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Surely I can't be the only who has made the pure rookie mistake of 'forgot to take the lens cap off before shooting'? :D

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