Stupid Photographer Tricks

by Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen on August 13, 2009

Even experienced photographers sometimes do dumb things. I guess that makes me very experienced. So I don’t feel alone in my brainlessness, I’m sharing a few of my adventures. Maybe I’ll hear from some of you that I’m not the only one who has occasionally lost his mind.

Photo by Beverly Brock

Tidepool Trip by Beverly Brock

ISO What?

I rarely change the ISO on my Nikon D300 to anything higher than 800. 400 is even better. Sometimes, though, I will go as high as 1600 to get a photo in a poorly lit place.

So, what do you think happens when I emerge from the darkness? Do I change the ISO back to something more reasonable? Of course not! I take a bunch of photos in the beautiful daylight with the camera still set at ISO 1600.

Eventually, I realize my mistake and set it back. But not before I ruin a few good photos. Oh well, that’s what the delete button is for.

Settings, Schmettings

With any modern digital camera, there are plenty of settings to screw up. Any time I deviate from the norm, I’m looking for trouble. One of my favorites is the self-timer. I use it for a few shots, then a few minutes later, I go to take a photo and nothing happens when I push the shutter release. Darn, I broke the camera. When I hear the shutter click 10 seconds later, I finally get a clue.

Manual focus is very dangerous for me. It’s easy to flip the little lever on the front of the camera to “M,” but hard to remember to flip it back. Photos out of focus? I’ll just call them artistic.

And don’t get me started about auto bracketing. What the heck is wrong with my exposures? One is overexposed, another underexposed. What’s going on here? Sure, there’s a little blinking icon to remind me, but who has time to look at all that stuff?

Getting Better

At least I don’t have to worry about film anymore. I once spent an hour or so photographing at the local zoo when I realized I’d made about 40 or 50 exposures without changing film. Pretty good for a 36-exposure roll. Oops, no film in the camera. Well, that’s one way to save on processing costs.

When I went digital, I was happy to find that there was a setting to lock the camera if no memory card is inserted. Nice.

That’s enough confession for now. I am getting better, but I’m sure my next camera will give me even more opportunities for “adventure.” If you’d like to share your experiences, please leave a comment below.

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1 Beverly Brock August 13, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Very interesting I can remember doing the same tricks, but I was photographing a wedding 🙂 took 5 before I realized no film so I was OK. Loved the slip and slide your a real trooper.


2 Alan Haynes August 14, 2009 at 7:07 am

Thanks for the photo, Beverly. You really captured the action. I like how it shows me sacrificing my body to save my camera. 🙂

3 Phil Levesque August 14, 2009 at 12:54 pm

lol, good one Alan!

I don’t miss the film days either.

4 Beverly Brock September 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Yes, when I fell I did the same on cement save the camera. I was lucky no one had a camera 🙂

5 Dan P September 29, 2009 at 11:37 am

My favorite stupid photographer trick is to pop-up my D200 on-camera flash for fill-light of sunlit portraits. Problem is that the Nikon will only flash-sync as high as 1/250 sec. No problem, as long as I’m using a small F-stop, but I like to shoot wide-open at Aperature Priority. What happens? Lots of over-exposured pics until I get around to checking my camera LCD monitor, gasp when I think my camera meter is broken.. and finally slap my forehead later.

6 Alan Haynes September 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

That’s one thing I liked about my old Nikon D70: flash would sync at 1/500th. I don’t know why the newer cameras can’t do that.

7 Lynnette Eslami December 2, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Nice to hear and know that I am not the only one out there that these kind of things happen to!

8 Johan deBoer December 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I got one more to share. Me wondering why the mirror was stuck in lockup position. Walking back to the car I noticed that cap on the lens……

9 Alan Haynes December 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm


That’s a good one. I don’t use mirror lockup and now I have a good excuse. Ha!


10 Alan Haynes December 9, 2009 at 3:57 pm


We all do dumb things. We just don’t all ADMIT it.


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