After sharing the best of my Get Snappy series the other day, I thought it would be good, for honesty’s sake, to share the worst of those blog posts too. It’s not realistic to pretend that I only take good pictures; you don’t want to know how many crappy pictures are sitting in my files. I also know that I’ll learn more from examining my ‘failures’ than I will from patting myself on the back for my successes. I want to look through the worst pictures I took last year (that I still deemed worthy of sharing in my photography series) and explain why exactly I think they’re bad – and how I could have made them better!
London, UK. This is from the Christmas at Kew lights installation, and is still a cool photo. But the framing is all wrong. I shouldn’t have cut off the boat in the bottom left corner and the little bits of boat visible on the left side are messy. It just needed better boundaries.
London, UK. The colours in this are way too bright. Editing tastefully is a skill. Plus the top of the lefthand building is cut off and that’s sloppy. In my defence, blown out white skies do make colours difficult.
Ivalo, Finland. Again, sloppy framing. What is that tree on the left doing? I’ve cut off the bottom of a few trees and shrubs too. The scene is good and this could have been a much picture with better edges.
London, UK. This isn’t so bad. I don’t like how the windows are cut off at the top and how they’re asymmetrical. I also don’t like how the lefthand window isn’t parallel to the edge of the image. This might sound picky but I really do think it’s the little things that make a photo sing!
London, UK. This photo is fine in terms of technique. I could perhaps have framed is better, but it’s okay. It’s just not interesting. I have learned a lot this year about when it’s worth taking out the camera and when it’s worth not pressing the shutter.
Bansko, Bulgaria. The messy foreground is what spoils this picture. The rule of thirds is one of the foundational principles of photographic composition, and that third of this picture is very bland. Also the little yellow skier is out of place.
Sofia, Bulgaria. Ha, this is very average. I love a good sunburst but this one is far too diffuse. Also the silhouette scene doesn’t have many interesting elements. All around, not a great picture.
Oxford, UK. Nemo is adorable, that’s not the problem. The picture isn’t really sharp enough – tight focus is one of the things that is most important to me in a photo – and there’s too much dead space around the dog. As long as the picture could keep its clarity with a bit of zoom, it would benefit from a crop.
Cornwall, UK. This photo is fine, but it’s quite dull. A close up would have been a better way of snapping these flowers.
London, UK. This is a little blurry and just very average. Why did I think a flat-lay of me making pancakes would make for a good picture?!
London, UK. I suppose this photo is fine – I just don’t really like (my) food photography. I don’t feel confident enough to go to town properly with my camera in restaurants and cafés, so any food pictures are always quite average.
London, UK. I think the general colour palette is the problem here. It’s too blue. It needs to be warmed up a little and the the Shard needs to be lightened up a bit too.
London, UK. This subject of this photo was a poor choice. This is not a scene that needed to be commemorated. Too much going on, bad framing and the tones are murky. One of the weakest of the whole year!
London, UK. This is almost a good photo – the only problem is that tiny little black thing in the top left corner! A lesson is proper cropping.
Bruges, Belgium. Again, I think the tones are wrong in this. Too blue; needs more yellow to warm it up a bit.
Bodrum, Turkey. The light patterns are fun, I guess, but I don’t think I needed to take this photo (or share it). Not very interesting.
London, UK. Nothing’s wrong with this per se (though I should have lined up the two sides of the buildings symmetrically with the picture’s corners), it was just the weakest from that week. On reflection, I do think there’s too much sky in this, and it would be better if the building took up more of the frame.
Cornwall, UK. THIS IS JUST BLURRY. Why did I include it?!
London, UK. Sunsets are deceptive; everyone is keen to capture them, but they are just as likely to result in an average photo as any other scene. That’s particularly the case when there’s not enough colour in the sky, as is happening here. The photo then becomes too grey and dark.
Cornwall, UK. This is a cool feature of the caves, no doubt, but the picture isn’t special. One of those photos that was worth taking to document this geological feature, not as art.
Barcelona, Spain. I suppose this is fine, but I don’t think I would ever choose to look at this picture again if I wasn’t reminded about it.
London, UK. Ha, very average. You can see the glass jug we used as a vase! Plus the leaves are curved too much at the top to look good.
London, UK. Why did I pick this one? There’s too much black. The bright lines are cool, but this picture is not striking in the slightest.
London, UK. Not sharp enough at all. I have no time for slightly blurry pictures.
London, UK. This is okay, a little boring, but fine. I did over-edit the sky though.
London, UK. Again, out of focus! Blurry at the edges. I have taken so many good photos of this view – this is not one of them.
London, UK. This one is quite good. This was clearly a good week for pictures. But it’s still worth being discerning about sunset pictures – the best ones are definitely when the sky is fully in colour.
Budapest, Hungary. This quite cool too. Another good week for pictures. I should have done more with the sky, though. It’s too overexposed in this.
Edinburgh, UK. If it weren’t for that little streetlamp on the right, this would be a good picture. Another lesson in lazy framing.
Oxford, UK. I actually quite like this photo – it’s objectively one of the weakest from that week, because it’s low light and a little blurred, but I think the haziness works. So I suppose I don’t really think this belongs on this list, but I had to put something down for Week 30.
Edinburgh, UK. This is not a good subject for a picture – sorry, Jake. Why did I take a photo of his shoe?!
Cornwall, UK. Not quite in focus, otherwise good. Maybe a little too bright, too.
London, UK. This is one of the worst of the whole year. The colours aren’t right and it’s just very bland, which is a feat, given that Tower Bridge is the subject of many of my best ever pictures.
Tsavo East, Kenya. So close to being amazing. But it’s blurry! Astrophotography requires long exposures, which are easy to blur with the slightest shake (you need a tripod, but even disturbing the ground can be enough). More practise required.
Maasai Mara, Kenya. Blurry again. Of all the great photos I took in Kenya, I don’t understand why I chose this one to put in the weekly roundup.
London, UK. The general ‘message’ of this picture is good – the EU flag against Westminster – but it’s too messy to be good. The building work, the hats and head across the bottom – it needed better framing.
London, UK. This is fine, there’s just too much dark area. This would be better cropped more closely to Imogen.
London, UK. This photo is fine, but I remember that this week had a lot of strong options. The worst of a decent bunch.
London, UK. This could have been good, if it was in focus. But it isn’t, so it’s not.
London, UK. The photos from this week were so disappointing. My cycle route through West London was amazing but the photos didn’t pick that up (my fault). This one has too much sky and the colours are too muted.
London, UK. This one is great, actually. This week was full of good pictures.
London, UK. This is fine too – I tend to like my protest photos – but I suppose it’s just a little chaotic. My other protest crowd scenes seem better composed, somehow.
London, UK. No one needs a photo of green leaves. My other photos from this week, of autumn leaves around South East London, were much better.
Cornwall, UK. So bad. This week was slim pickings generally.
London, UK. There’s too much sky in this; the Shard isn’t interesting enough to hold the centre of the image when it’s that small. Plus I don’t like the top of the streetlamp in the bottom right corner.
Gili Air, Indonesia. Blurry, bland, randomly composed. Why did I share this? If only I knew what underwater photos were awaiting me in the next week…
Gili Air, Indonesia. To make that point, I like this photo a lot. The photos were all good this week, so the ‘worst’ one is still pretty good.
Komodo, Indonesia. This would be great if not for it being too zoomed in so that it’s lost too much clarity. Quality matters and that quality of this one is too low.
London, UK. I have better photos of Kate. I don’t know, It’s just not striking enough. Maybe more contrast would help…
Paris, France. This is quite good – the colours aren’t quite right, though. Grey and yellow is not the best combo.
London, UK. The other swan photo like this – the cover image from Week 51 – was so much better. This one would be better cropped a little closer to the swan, there’s too much blue space currently.
Oxford, UK. This is too overexposed, with too much sky and sloppy edges. But it is better than some of my other photos that had those same issues!
Overall, the worst weeks were Week 10, Week 11, Week 16, Week 17, Week 31, Week 33, Week 40 and Week 44. I struggled to find inspiration in London sometimes, especially in the winter, when so much of my leisure time was spent in the dark. Clearly, my biggest lessons are:
- Pay attention to the edges of the photos. Are there small things to crop out? Is the framing tight to the main subject, without excess noise?
- Make sure it’s in focus. Sounds easy, but can be difficult, especially if your subject is moving quickly or the light is low.
- Is there too much sky? Too much empty space came up a few times and is worth noting. It’s also easy to cut out some of the sky while editing, so can be salvaged later.
- Are the colours right? Are they bright enough (or too bright)? Does the photo need warming up with more yellow and pink tones?
- Is this photo worth taking? The most important lesson of all might be when to leave my camera in its case. Not every moment is photo-worthy; some things don’t need to be memories.
There are some good lessons here. Get Snappy meant that I got so much photography practice last year, which was utterly invaluable. Yes, I learned a lot about how to take good pictures, but, as this blog shows, I also learned a lot about what not to do. And sometimes those are the most important lessons of all.