This time my goofs were: too-close flash-burned Idaho sunflowers; BW (black & white film) orange filter left on my color-camera lens; too-wide an f-stop fuzzing lily pads on north Idaho's Chatcolet Lake; slow shutter speed erasing swinging axe in woodchopper's hands; and cutting off my head in a self-timer tripod shot!
Being more experimental, these two rolls had a higher rate of failures than usual. Yet it seems "file 13" is a beast which feasts on most my photos, leaving me just a few scraps. This is a common complaint among photographers at all levels. Part of the reason is their standards keep going up, but it's also that photographic mistakes are both easy and rampant.
We just got back from a two-day trip to Brownlee Reservoir where we took photos of the fish we caught. I already know some of the sickening blunders I'll have to face when the photos come back from the developers.
My latest errors will include: not manually compensating for black-water backgrounds behind bright fish, nor for glaring overcast skies with a darker subject matter. I also forgot sometimes to pre-view my camera's automatic settings, so I'll get some blurry pictures from auto-set slow shutter speeds. At one point I failed to completely lock the lens on the camera, so those shots will be badly overexposed. (First time I ever did that. Wonder how many more times I'll have to do it before remembering to test for a loose lens?)
The following BIG mistake by a famous photographer has to do with not "compensating" for Acts of God: He wrote about how he once took all his equipment, including spare cameras and lenses, and all his film (100 rolls, removed from their cannisters) on an Australian river. The water was calm, so waterproof bags weren't used. The boat turned over. He saved himself, but not the cameras around his neck. All other photo gear went into the water and was totally ruined.
Never again, this older, wiser photographer now says. Spare equipment will remain safely in camp. Waterproof bags will always be used in boats. Film will remain in containers until needed.
To avoid more commonplace errors, check this switch, that button, those dials! Re-read the owner's manual! Is the lens screwed in tight? Did you change the ISO? Is the film-end definitely on the takeup spool? Is there film even in the camera?! Is the compensation dial back on "normal"? Are any warning lights flashing? In automatic mode, are speed and f-stop settings OK? Check the flash-ready light. Fine-tune the focus….. etc., etc.
Most of these points should be reviewed quickly before every shutter-punch. The process feels like the checklist used before an airplane takeoff - and it's just as vital.
The goofs mentioned above have more to do with equipment, but the nightmare extends beyond this. Composition oversights ruin photos too. Drab colors can be enough to make a dull image. I just lost a magazine cover-photo sale because the live sage grouse shot didn't have a glint in its eye! An animal doesn't look alive without that glint. A completely dark eye looks like the eye sockets are empty. It's goulish.
Most of the time (definitely not always), photos not in perfect focus are unpleasant, unenlargeable, (and unpublishable).
Photographic-nightmare prevention is tricky. Everyone seems to have to learn the hard way, and make every mistake at least once. I fight this disease of errors by working on one or two goofs at a time. Eventually avoidance becomes automatic.
As you cure old photographic ills, an amazing variety of new ones will be waiting for you! Just keep plugging, and most of your photographic nightmares will turn into pleasant dreams.