"I cannot believe it! I keep making the same mistakes. I place fish faces dead center in my frame and cut off their tails. I compose horizontal frames when I should shoot verticals. I forget about backgrounds. My list of repeated mistakes goes on and on, but what really kills me is that the instant I look at my processed slides I know exactly what I did wrong and what I should have done differently. I just don't think of those things when I am taking pictures. Can you help me?"
This month's question is from Ruth P. of Chicago. I think her situation applies to a lot of underwater photographers, especially those with a sporadic diving schedule. The root of the problem is the time lapse in the cycle of diving, shooting, editing, and getting back in the water to shoot again after a short time span, making it difficult to stay "photographically sharp."
In this photo, the tail of the fish is cut off. To help prevent this problem repeating itself takes only a few easy steps and simple self-reminders.
I suggest that Ruth take this line of thinking one step farther. Right next to my sheets of common mistakes I keep a few sheets of slides of photographs I really like, and I review these slides as well. Once again the quick review helps me get my head back into the photographic game after some period of inactivity and also reinforces positives from my past. I think that too often we beat ourselves up over our photography, and we need to remember our successful techniques as well.
If Ruth tries the ideas suggested here I feel confident that not only will she avoid repeating mistakes, but she will also better be able to remember and apply techniques that have helped her be successful in the past. And she will do all of this before she trips the shutter instead of shuddering at her results when she edits.
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