Guest Blog by Fat Lama: 5 Mistakes For Beginner Photographers To Watch Out For

It’s easy to be by possibility when you’re starting out in photography. And, we’ll level with you, there is a lot that can go wrong. But fear not: by reading this, we hope you’ll know how to avoid the five most common mistakes that beginner photographers make when starting out.

1. Shooting in JPEG

Let’s be clear: whilst some photographers will tell you otherwise, it is ok to shoot in JPEG. The files sizes are smaller, cameras usually allow for a faster burst mode in JPEG, the whole process is quicker, and sometimes all you need is to take a few quick snapshots and be done. However, there are a few of reasons why it might not be the best bet.

Basically, when your camera is shooting in JPEG, between you taking the image and seeing it on the screen, the camera does the processing and voila: your photo is ‘finished’. Shooting in RAW, on the other hand, gives you many more tools for a much wider range of creativity and often this is key in developing your own signature style. So, for greater freedom beyond your shoot, give RAW a shot.

2. Blown Highlights

One of the most common issues facing a new photographer is the blowing or ‘clipping’ of highlights. This means that your highlights are overexposed to the extent that the camera sensor can’t record any information from that part of the image. If your highlights are blown, literally no amount of post-processing can bring them back. The data simply isn’t there. Ouch.

So, what can you do if you’re shooting on a sunny day or in another high contrast situation? Here’s where we ‘expose for the highlights.’ What this means is, when you take a photograph, make sure the exposure is adjusted for the highlights in the image. Naturally, this will result in a darker image. But don’t worry: if you’ve shot in RAW, you’ll be able to bring back the detail from the shadows in post-production.

3. Over-Reliance On Post-Production

The RAW mindset can lead to a problematic ‘I’ll fix it later’ mentality. You may well wonder what the point in nailing your exposure is, when you can easily adjust exposure by up to five stops either way at your computer screen. And why bother getting the white balance correct in-camera when you can just fix it later on?

With Photoshop at your disposal, you may increasingly hear yourself saying, “I’ll fix it later”. Be warned. If you start taking shortcuts in one area of photography, other areas are likely to suffer too. Remember: processing is intended to enhance your work, not rescue poor photos.

4. Overshooting

Whilst you should absolutely try to shoot day, less can be more! Back in photography’s analogue era, you were fixed to either 12, 24 or 36 exposures per roll of film – and it didn’t come cheap! This meant that thought was required before you pressed the shutter.

Whilst digital photography opens up the possibility of vast quantities, it also increases the risk of overshooting. Be careful not to merely ‘spray and pray’ – the quality will suffer. One recommended exercise is to go out for the day and limit yourself to no more than 12 photos. You might just find that you end up putting much more thought into what you are capturing and develop better shooting habits as a result.

5. Conspicuous Editing


Contrast, shadows, exposure, highlights, vibrance, saturation, vignettes – the list is pretty endless. However, this can often make it easy to lose track of where an image started out! Moderation is key and subtlety is the name of the game. Quick tip: keep a copy of the original image side-by-side with your working edit, so that you can constantly see how far you have come.

We hope these five easy tips will put you on the path to greatness.

Bradley Allen is a freelance photographer and writer for Fat Lama.

Montenegro Photography Holiday Highlights with TDactive holidays

In April 2018, the DPS team  set out with 16 fellow photographers of all levels to one of the most rugged, untouched and unique areas of Europe, Montenegro. We landed in Dubrovnik, Croatia as the sun was blazing in all it’s glory offering us a balmy 21 degrees with clear skies. It was so refreshing after such a cold and dreary Irish winter that seemed to refuse to leave! We quickly grab our luggage, meet our guide and board a bus to one of the most  beautiful places in the world. After just over a 20 minutes coach ride we are whisked to our destination, where we will spend our first evening at leisure exploring the amazing city of Dubrovnik, where the commanding views from it’s walls hint at the amazing scenes to come.

Settling in for the night our advice is very simple, “have your memory cards empty and your batteries full, as we will hit the ground running in the morning”.


Don’t Miss Out!

Transylvania Holiday September 13th- 17th 2018

photography trips to TransylvaniaCome travel with us to Romania the largest of the Balkan nations. It is a land of stunning mountain scenery, unspoiled countryside and historic towns, making it a fantastic holiday destination for anyone looking to develop their documentary, street and landscape photography skills. Based in the charming, historic town of Brasov for four nights, you will have the opportunity to photograph the remarkable landscapes of the Transylvania region as you travel high into the Carpathian Mountains, taking in impressive vistas and lake views. You will also visit the picturesque medieval town of Viscri, famous for its traditional houses and Saxon fortified church, and Sighisoara, with its impeccably preserved hilltop citadel. Of course, no stay in Transylvania would be complete without a visit to the imposing fortress of Dracula’s Castle.


We wake to a stunning sunrise where the weather is fantastic for April in Croatia @22 degrees.  Our day starts with a short drive across the border into Montenegro, but not before we stop to take in the viewing point of Dubrovnik. Moving accross the hard boarder of the E.U is no hassle as Montenegro has a fantastic relationship with Europe and is hoping to join the E.U in the coming years. We then move onto our first destination Perast, a truly picturesque old town on the Bay of Kotor. Despite having only one main street, the tiny town of Perast boasts 16 churches and 17 formerly grand palazzos. Here,on the streets of Perast, we meet our amazing guide Miro. The DPS team teach everything from semi automatic modes to composition, EV Comp and getting everybody up to speed with basics for the next few days.

After a lunch stop we enjoy a guided boat cruise from Perast to the island of Our Lady of The Rocks for a photo shoot in two locations, looking out over Our Lady of the Rocks as well as ample time to photograph the nearby St George’s Island. Regrouping after our boatride from the Island, we rebroad  our bus and head to  our next desitination, a beuatiful old town called Kotor. We plan to photograph Kotor from above so as we climb the steep pathway to our destination, we are treated to commanding vistas of the souroudding hills and bay, before stoping for a sunset shoot and filter demostration. The sun begins to set as we make the trip down to the centre of Kotor and head  to our hotel for the evening, which is located in the stunning oldtown of Budva.

In the early morning, we set out to  Lovcen National Park, located in rocky region of Dinara Alps. Here we  journey via the impressive Serpentine Road that winds through the landscape with numerous stops to  photograph the Bay of Kotor, also known as BokaBay, before continuing on to Skadar Lake. Lake Skadar lies on the border of Albania and Montenegro and is the largest lake in Southern Europe. You will have the chance to shoot iconic images of the lake from an elevated position. Following this we stop for lunch before take a guided boat cruise to the village of Virpazar. On board we are treated to local wines and cheeses and relax and enjoy the stunning views. Here the DPS teach how to photograph and compensate for movement when moving at speed, before stopping at  Besac Fortress and photographing the black hills of its namesake Montenegro.


Early next morning we embark on a sunrise photo shoot at the walls of the oldtown of Budva. Following this we regroup for breakfast and board the bus for the Tara River and Black Lake, a glacial lake located on Mount Durmitor at an elevation of 1,416m.  Stopping to photograph the  Tara River Canyon while shooting from Djurdjevica Tara Bridge. At 1,300m deep the Tara River Canyon is among the deepest river canyons in the world. before stopping at a black lake for some stunning views and photographs that would be not out of place in the the rocky montains.


As the DPS team wind down for the evening before heading to the airport in Dubrovnik, we take one last stroll through the streets of Budva oldtown, which is like something from an old historical movie. The empty streets are both romantic and mysterious as they weave in and out of old squares, lit only by old lamps. Montenegro is truely a stunning country and destination. Our friends in TDactve Holidays have outdone themselves yet again in planning our logistics and comfort for this trip. See you in 2019 Montenegro!