Quick-Fix Guide to Common Photography Problems

Quick Fixes

Here’s a short list of problems that you may encounter on your journey of discovery in photography, along with an equally short list of fixes to get you back on the road.

1. Red-Eyes in Flash Photographs

Sometime, you see people with red, alien-like eyes that appear to infest regular human-beings when using on-camera flash.

Reason for red-eye effect:

This is because the on-camera flash is too close to the lens’ axis, so the light from it reflects off the inside of the person’s eye and into the camera creating this effect. In a way it’s cool, but it’s never flattering for the affected person.

How to fix red-eye:

You can easily fix the red-eye effect by moving your flash off-camera. You can also try to get a little creative with it.

2. Blurry Images

Blur is when objects in the frame or photograph seem soft, blurry (duh!) or streaky.

Reasons for blurry images:

There are two main reasons actually:

  1. Relatively fast moving objects.
  2. Soft, or incorrect, focus

How to prevent unwantedly blurry images:

  1. Moving Objects: Use a faster shutter speed, fast enough to freeze movement, or use a flash. If you’re alreadying doing this, and you still have a blurry image, and you’re focused correctly, then you probably need a tripod
  2. Soft Focus: Make sure you focus correctly, get better spectacles if you need ’em. (I know, I do…)

3. Shake:

Similar to blur, but instigated by the camera and / or photographer.

Reasons for camera shake:

Incorrect posture, bad camera holding technique, or use of a very slow shutter speed.

How to prevent camera shake:

  1. Make sure that you’re well balanced and stable when you actually press the shutter release. A wide stance with your legs, with your shoulders in line with your hips can help. Also, hold the camera close to your centre of gravity
  2. Learn how to grip the camera correctly. (Video)
  3. Use faster shutter speeds, use flash to freeze your subject, or just shoot in better light.

4. Flash reflected off Glass

This is the all-too-famous blotch of white light that you see in airplane windows, in aquariums and offices.

Reasons for a splash of white light in a glass:

This is because your flash bounced off the glass and back into the camera’s lens.

How to prevent flash reflecting on a pane of glass:

When shooting in to glass, remember not to shoot perpendicular to it when using flash. If possible, turn off your flash, else, if you have a camera with a lens that sticks out, go right up to the glass so that the lens is almost touching the glass itself, and then take a picture. That way you wont get reflections of your flash!

5. Lens Flare

White diffused area next to a light source, or circles of light radiating out from a light source that’s directly in the photograph’s frame.

Reasons for lens flare in your photos:

Light that comes directly into the lens sometimes does not get absorbed, but bounces off the surface of the lens. The best lenses have special coatings to reduce this, but a cheap filter most certainly will bounce light.

How to prevent or reduce lens flare:

  • You can prevent lens flare in your images, by using a lens hood to keep stray light out.
  • Point your lens in a slightly different direction to exclude the light source from your frame.
  • Get a lens with better coatings
  • Don’t shoot directly into the light.

6. Vignetting

Vignetting is when the corners of your frame are slightly darker than the centre of the image. Some people like vignettes, and will go so far as to add them after a photo is taken. I am one of these people.

What causes vignetting:

  1. This is a because of the way in which the lens has been engineered. Light that is focussed by the lens starts falling-off towards the edges. Some vintage lenses have quite severe vignetting.
  2. Filters on a wide-angle lens are sometimes visible as blurry dark vignetting in the corners of the frame.
  3. Low quality lenses.

How can I prevent vignetting in my images:

  1. All lenses have some degree of vignetting. The expensive ones just have less.
  2. Don’t use filters that need step-down ring adaptors
  3. Some cameras like the LOMO use low quality lenses intentionally. If you don’t want a vignette, don’t use them.

These were a few common issues that people face when taking photographs. We hope that this article helped you. If you’d like more like it, do leave a comment below, and let us know what you need help with.

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Published: March 25, 2008 | Last Updated: December 15, 2020

4 thoughts on “Quick-Fix Guide to Common Photography Problems”

  1. @Caledonia: I second that… So do the guys at LOMO… They’ve made a following out of it! But sometimes its nice to let Photoshop take care of it in the post processing. Especially when you dont want it to become too apparent.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    1. @Simon: Are you sure the sky was not that blue? or maybe the guy who printed them for you loves deep blues, and pushed the saturation on it. Can’t really tell just like that. The situation usually takes a bit more inspection.

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