Silly mistakes Photographers make.

January 09, 2020  •  3 Comments

We all make mistakes. The local group I shoot with, "Social Sunrise" know me well enough now to know that if someone was to have an issue with forgetting something it would be me.

As I have mentioned I have been into Photography for quite a while now. In this time I have had many adventures that have come to an abrupt end due to silly mistakes. I check and recheck my gear when I shoot for a job, I have a checklist that I use to make sure I cover all the essentials, but what happens when I just grab my bag and run out to do a quick private shoot? I believe any photographer that says I never forget anything is not being completely honest. Here are a few of the tings that have caused me grief over the years.

Memory Cards:- These little things can make your sunset shoot grind to a halt very quickly. Either you have used all the cards that are normally in your bag or the card is full and you haven't downloaded what's on it and don't have enough room left for anything more than 2 shots. I could give you a long list of other Photographers I have had to borrow cards from while out in the field. What's even worse now is Nikon has changed cards to XQD on the camera I shoot with and no one will have a spare one just in their bag to act as a loan. I have also had several SD cards fail both when formatting or while shooting, usually resulting in a complete loss of the shots you have already taken. The worst mistake I have made so far with Memory Cards has been dropping the card wallet complete with half a dozen 64gig fast cards and four XQD 64gig cards, and not realise I had done it. About a $1000 cards lost. To fix this issue I have started to put a spare SD memory card in the coin pocket of my wallet. You just need to remember to replace it when you use it.

Batteries:- Another item that can bring the festivities to a stop in a hurry. Let's see, forgetting to charge, faulty so it doesn't hold a charge, leaving the house without a battery because they are on charge, knowing you put a fully charged battery in the camera to find it flat when you start to shoot. I have done it all. Luckily both Canon and Nikon have multiple cameras that use the same battery so you can sometimes get lucky and find a friend who has one you can borrow. This happened on a recent Saturday "Social Sunrise", the battery I thought was almost full was almost flat instead. Luckily one of the group had a spare battery I could borrow for the shoot, Thanks Merrillie. To fix this particular issue I have left a battery for my camera in the centre console of my car. It will only really help if I have the car with me but its better than nothing at all.

Tripods:- Well you can arrive without one. You can arrive without the quick release plate attached to the camera and don't have a spare. You can have the leg release clips start to loose tension and find that the tripod has collapsed on you. I have had all 3 of theses things happen to me over the last 6 years. The collapsed leg resulted in my main work camera, my D3s getting dumped into 2 feet of salt water during a 30 second exposure. Needless to say the camera didn't survive. I now carry at least 2 and sometimes 3 tripods in my car and all use the same Quick Release plate. I also purchase multiple Quick Release plates and put an extra in my bag and another in the centre console of the car along with the spare battery. Lastly I always try and keep the tension on the leg clamps right so I don't dump another camera. Oh and be careful when dogs, bats and other critters are around. Oh and waves as well.

Change of settings:-  Hand up those people who have been shooting a nightscape at high ISO and forgot to return the ISO to low for the next mornings Sunrise shoot. Keep them up if you have ever changed the camera to Jpeg shooting for shooting at the high frame rate only to forget to change it back to RAW when you're done. Not to mention accidently changing a setting like putting the camera into bracketing or putting in an exposure compensation, or starting your night timelapse shoot only to discover you have Long Exposure Noise reduction on. I personally had my hand up for all of these and I'm sure that unless your trying to kid yourself yours are up as well.  The only thing you can do here is either check the camera before you start to shoot or just accept the images you have captured. 

Location Locatiion Location:- We all try and select a good shoot location, one that offers a great vista and one that is usually safe. I know several people in the "Social Sunrise" group who have gotten wet over the years and that include the camera from various wave splashes or creeks and puddles over the years. Another location nemesis is sand, it can get into the camera and cause all sorts of problems. How about selecting the wrong paddock and being chased away by the local wildlife. One of my best (or worst if you want to look at it that way) location mistakes was shooting a panoramic image at the Koolewong boat ramp. Half way through the image I slipped and landed on my ass. I broke my coccyx's which I tell you is not fun especially as it was the 2nd time. All I can say is be mindful of your surroundings and if your shooting along the coast always keep one eye on the ocean.

Its not just the shooting side of things hat can go wrong. How many people have all their images on the Hard drive of the computer but no backup? Memory now is comparatively economical and easy to find. Go to Officeworks or JB and get yourself a backup hard drive. Put all of the important images you really want to keep on the backup. I'm a bit paranoid compared to most, I have the main drive, 2 full backups, and one offsite. I need to maintain all the Sunrise and Wedding images so multiple drives made sense to me. It wasn't always that way though. In 2009 I lost about 2 years of landscape and Astro photos because the drive I was using for those images failed and it was too costly to retrieve the data. My memory tells me I lost quite a few unique shots and I cant argue as I don't have the images anymore. 

Mistakes happen to everyone. By taking a few precaution you can minimise the impact those mistakes have on your shoot and in the long term storage of your precious images. But don't think you're alone in those little mistakes, everyone of us has don't something silly at some stage. Below is a quick list of some of the silly things I have done over the years.

  • Dropped a camera over the edge of the Grand Canyon (good story)
  • Dropped a 50mm f1.4 lens into Brisbane water
  •  Had a tripod leg collapse dumping the D3s into salt water at Soldiers Beach (not so good story)
  • Forgot my memory cards and had Grahame, Merrillie, Jaye Marie, David R, David W, Murry and even a complete stranger who recognised me from the local Camera House Shop come to my rescue.
  • Forgot a battery or had a flat battery and been able to carry on due to the generosity or Grahame, David R, David W, and Merrillie.
  • Forgot a tripod and looked like a real moron trying to get shots with my camera perched on a few rocks.
  • Forgotten quick release plates, unfortunately the plates I use are not the standard so I haven't had anyone able to come to my rescue so far.
  • Forgotten my remote control for a Timelapse shoot especially after having driven nearly 2 hours to get to the location.
  • I once drove 8 hours north to the top of Mt Kaputar for a week’s Astronomy and Photography only to discover I left the lenses at home.
  • I arrived at one of my workshop weekends without the keyboard and mouse for my computer.
  • Slipped while shooting a Panoramic image a broke my coccyx

That Grand Canyon story is a really good one though.

Let us know if you dare of any mistakes or problems you have had with any of your photography.


Been a victim of all of the above. In some cases still haven't learner
So far I am pretty paranoid about forgetting something out of that list above and try to have multiples of everything and if I am really good I remember to check my settings the night before a sunrise shoot, especially if I have been shooting other things since the last one. I think you left off the rock shoes :-)

I did go to Newcastle with hubby in our motorhome and had put everything I wanted to get packed at the front door - got to Newcastle and discovered the tripod hadn't made it. That was ok for the cricket photos I could manage those handheld although that zoom gets heavy but no good for the sunrise I had planned. So off we went to find a shop and buy another tripod ( now happily owned by eldest grandaughter who also happily owns my Nikon Coolpix the camera that got me started on this photography journey. I might add that trips away in the motorhome involve more photography gear than living essentials. I pack everything 'just in case'. Husband doesn't complain though he packs 'everything just in case' that his sport teams might need lol. See why we have a motorhome.

I find the difficulty with missing items starts with swapping bags.
David R(non-registered)
A really interesting article Andrew........I think we can all relate to some part of it, if not multiple parts. I know that I have shot at the iso setting having shot astro the night before, forgotten my remote shutter release, or the release has run out of battery. The Social Sunrise Crew are a great bunch of people and I learn something new every time I join them for a sunrise.

Keep up the great work Andrew, you are an inspiration to all of us.
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