Photographic Glossary

The Glossary is a quick and useful index of photography terms:

Aberration A flaw in a lens which produces unsharp areas of an image, usually located towards the edge. Usually occurs when a small aperture is used.
Abstract An image where the subject is not recognisable, usually contains repeating patterns, shapes and symmetry.
Achromatic A type of lens that has been made to correct chromatic aberration.
AF Assist Illuminator This function is ually automatically activated in low light where the camera fails to automatically focus. It provides a directional beam of light on the subject from the camera to allow auto focus.
AF Lock A function on DSLRs that allow the auto focus to lock and prevent further focusing, allowing focus to be locked on a subject and then the shot recomposed.
AF-C Auto Focus - Continuous. A setting which the camera will automatically re-focus on the subject if it moves out of focus.
AF-S Auto Focus - Single. A setting which allows the selection of a particular focus area within the viewfinder as opposed to selecting the nearest subect.
Ambient Light The natural light present in a shot around the subject and light that is not initiated by the photographer.
Angle of View The area that can be viewed through a lens. This view is determined by the focal length of the lens being used. A telephoto lens will narrow the angle of view, whilst a wide angle lens will provide a wider angle of view than a normal angle of view.
Aperture You'll here this term used a lot in photography. It specifically refers to a space / hole through which light travels through, in this context the opening which controls the amount of light entering the camera. The smaller the aperture, the less light will get through. The size of the aperture (the diameter of the whole) is measured in f-stops.
Aperture Priority (A / AV) This mode will be present on all DSLR's and most compacts. In this mode the camera automatically adjusts other settings such as shutter speed to generate a balanced exposure based on the specific aperture you have selected. This is probably the most used mode.
Aspect Ratio The ratio of the width and height of an image such as 6 x 4, 10 x 8.
Aspherical (ASP) Referes to the surface of a lens / element which is not spherical. These non-spherical elements are used to adjust for distortion and are usually better quality lenses.
Auto Mode This mode instructs the camera to control all settings to take a balanced exposure.
Background The area behind a subject.
Backlight Lighting that comes from behind a subject
Battery Grip (Vertical Grip) An accesory for DSLR's which allows for two batteries to be used through an attachment to the bottom of the camera body. The crip is also much more ergonomic for portrait shots (vertical) and can give a much better balance of weight to the camera.
Blur Areas of an image which are unsharp which can be caused by focusing or through movement during shooting.
Bokeh Pronounced 'bo-key', this terms refers the quality or smoothness of the 'blur' of areas not in focus.
Bounce Referring to light that is 'bounced' from a relfective surface to provide an angle of light on a subject.
Bracketing The taking of multiple images of the same scene set at different exposures.
Buffer The temporary storage on a camera that allows for multiple exposures to be taken in quick succession.
Bulb (B) This setting is used for long exposures when you manually control both the opening and closing of the shutter.
Burning A process used in image editing programmes to darken specific areas of an image. The name 'burning' originates from dark room processing when parts of the negative were deliberately over exposed until they started to darken (burn).
Cable Release An accessory which allows remote triggering of the shutter.
Catchlight The reflection of a light in a subjects eye, such as that of a softbox in a studio.
CCD Sensor Charged Coupled Device. This is now the standard sensor type on most DSLR's.
Centre-Weighted Metering This setting instructs the camera to only take an exposure reading from within the centre area which is viewable through the viewfinder. This diameter of this area can be changed on most DSLR's.
Chromatic Abberation Failure of a lens to bring all colours to a single point, usually occurs towards the outside edge of an image and can also be known as 'fringing'.
CMOS Complementary Metal-Oxide Seminconductor. A type of sensor used in DSLRs.
CMYK Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key. The colours used in printing processes.
Colour Temperature Scale of temperature measured in degrees Kelvin based on the amount of energy different colours produce. Daylight is measured at 5000-5200 degrees Kelvin
Compact Flash Card A type of memory storage card, typically used on semi-pro and professional cameras.
Continuous Lighting Used in a variety of locations, this is a continuous iight source typicall used for studio portraits, videography and product photography.
Contrast The difference between light and dark in an image. The greater the difference, the greater the contrast.
Crop Factor This term refers to the magnification effect of a cropped DSLR sensor against a full frame sensor. Most DSLR's use cropped sensors with the exception of pro cameras such as the Nikon D3 and the Canon 5D.
De pth of Field The distance between the nearest and furthest points in an image that are in focus.
Diffuser Any material or item that can be used to spread or scatter light over an area. Has the effect of making the light softer also. The closer a subject is to the diffused light the less the spread of light.
DSLR Digital Single Lens Reflex.
Dynamic Range Is the term used to describe the ratio between the darkest and lightest areas of an image. The range is usually referred to in f-stops.
Elements Single lens piece of glass that the component parts of all compound lenses.
Evaulative Metering (Matrix) Set to this mode your camera will display exposure based on the whole scene presented to it. It does this by taking an average of the scene taking into account dark and light areas.
EXIF Exchangeable Image File Format. A commonly used format of image metadata.
Exposure Probably the most important term in photography. Exposure is the amount of light that is allowed to enter the camera when capturing an image. Exposure can be controlled using settings such as aperture and shutter speed.
Exposure Value (EV) A scale used to show the sensitivity of a meter system within which an accurately exposed image can be achieved. This scale is usuall measure in full, half or third of an f-stop.
File Type - DNG Digital Negative Graphic
File Type - JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group. The most commonly used format for compressed image and graphic files.
File Type - PSD Photoshop Document
File Type - RAW A file that has not been processed by the camera and contains all original exposure information from the image.
Fill Light A source of off-camera light which is used to soften or illuminate shadows.
Flle Type - TIFF Tagged Image File Format.
Focal Length The distance from the sensor (focal plane) to the front element of the lens.
Foreground The area in an image in front of the subject.
Frames Per Second The number of continuous shots your camera can capture per second.
Front Curtain Flash When the flash fires as soon as the shutter is opened.
F-Stop The scale used to measure aperture. It is calculated by dividing the focal length of the lens by the diameter of the aperture.
Graduated Filter A filter which comprises of a coloured section that gradually reduces in density until it is clear. Very effective in landscape photography.
HDR High Dynamic Range.
Histogram A chart visualising the distribution of colour in an image. It displays white light, red, green and blue. It enables for a more precise check of the exposure of an image.
Hot Shoe This is located on the top of the camera and allows for either a speedlight to be attached or for an adpater to be attached to enable accessory items to be used, such as a sync cable.
IF (Internal Focusing) You may see this on some lenses. It describes a system where only the internal elements of the lens move during focusing. It means that the physical length of the lens body does not change.
Image Stabilisation (IS / VR) A feature on lenses and cameras that reduces the effects of camera shake on an image. It offers a benefit of slower shutter speeds without blur caused by camera shake.
ISO International Organisation for Standardisation. This refers to the sensitivity of your sensor, in non-digital format this would be the equivalent to film speed (ASA).
Key Light Term used to describe a studio light used as the main control of tonel level and light on the subject.
LCD Liquid Crystal Display.
Lens Flare Light that is reflected through the camera and appears on the image. Typically appears when shooting into bright sunlight.
Lens Speed This refers to the maximum aperture that can be attained on a lens (it's smallest f-number). The word 'speed' is used as the wider the aperture the faster the shutter speed can be relative to the available light. 'Fast' long focal length lenses such as a 400mm lens with a constant aperture of f2.8 will be considered very fast, and also very expensive!
Lens Type - Fisheye A type of lens that allows for angles of view past 100 degrees .
Lens Type - Fixed / Prime A lens with a focal length cannot be changed.
Lens Type - Telephoto Any lens with an angle of view greater than 45 degress of typicall a focal length greater than 24mm on a DSLR mounted lens.
Lens Type - Wideangle Any lens with a angle of view greater than 45 degrees. Typically a focual lenth shorter than 24mm on a DSLR.
Lens Type - Zoom A type of lens with a variable focal length e.g. 18-55mm
Lense Type - Macro A specialist lens that allows for a 1:1 capture of the subject and very close focusing, typically as short at 20cm from the subject.
Light Tent A studio accessory comprising of an enclosed sqaure with translucent sides to allow light to pass through and diffuse through the material. It's main use is in product photography to elimate hard shadows and ensure even exposures of the entire product. It also isolates the subject exceptionally well.
Lightroom A product from the Adobe suite. A processing, library and editing tool. Works extremely well in combination with Photoshop and provides non-destructive image processing of RAW images.
Manual Focus Process of using the manual focus ring on a lens to focus a subject, as opposed to using the camera auto focus.
Manual Mode Another prorgamme mode that can be found on all DSLR's and some compact cameras. This mode allows you take full control of all settings such as aperture and shutter speed.
maxhectorphotography Canterbury based wedding, portrait and commercial photographers.
Metadata Contains information about images and other data types. Metadata can include the camera used to take an image, settings used and keywords.
Metering The process by which the amount of light in a scene is measured to allow for a correct exposure.
Off Camera Flash The use of flash which is not located on-camera. An example would be studio flash or using a speedlight remotely, I.e. not mounted on the camera. Advantages of off camera flash uncluding making a subject 3D through the use of directional light and the creation of shadows.
Perspective The way of viewing 3D objects in what is essentially 2D. For example in an image, a box vieved directly from the from would just be a sqaure. Changing the angle would bring other points of the box into the image and give perspective.
Pin Hole Camera A type of camera that doesn't use a lens. It works by allowing light from a very small hole to pass through and create an image onto film.
Polariser A filter which can be place in front of the lens with the effect of reducing reflections and also for darkening of skies and creating more dramatic landscapes.
Rear Curtain Flash When the flash fires the instant the shutter begins to close.
Reflector Something every photographer should have. A reflector is anything that can be used to reflect light to illuminate a subject. It is excellent for softening shadows on a very bright day for example. Most reflectors come with alternate coverings such as gold, silver and black. Black is used to enhance shadows by soaking up light rather than reflecting it.
Remote Release A process of controling the shutter without depressing the on camera shutter release. These can be infra-red or cable based.
Resolution The amount of detail present in an image as usually defined by pixels.
RGB Red, Green and Black. Used by all computers to creat all colours.
SD Card Secure Digital. A small flash memory card used by most cameras.
Sharpening A process used in image editing programmes to more closely define edges across an image.
Shutter Priority This mode will be present on all DSLR's and most compacts. In this mode the camera automatically adjusts other settings such as aperture to generate a balanced exposure based on the specific shutter speed you have selected. Use this mode if capturing movement is your main aim.
Shutterspeed The speed at which the camera shutter closes. These speeds will typically range from 30 seconds to 1/8000th of a second. A typical shutter speed for freezing sporting actions would be 1/250th of a second.
Softbox A piece of studio equipment used to diffuse the light from a strobe or continous light source. It provides an area of soft, low contrast light.
Speedlight A dedicated flash that can be used remotely or mounted (via the hot shoe). It's head is directional and has variable settings such as power and zoom.
Spot Metering This instructs the camera to only read light information from a specific part of the image as defined by the focus points in your viewfinder.
Star Trails A type of photography using the 'time lapse' method. This type of photography typically requires shutter speeds of around 30 minutes (using bulb) a clear sky and very small amounts of ambient light. The result image is light trails from the stars running across the image. Best results are achieved by ensuring that the 'north star' is at the centre of the image.
Stop Down A term used to describe the closing down of the aperture.
Strobe A strobe is another word for a flash.
Subject The person, item or specific thing being photographed.
Sync Cable A cable that connects a camera body to a flash to enable remote firing of the flash.
Teleconverter A system that can be mounted between the camera and the lens with the effect of lengthening the focal length.
Tilt and Shift A type of lens commonly used in architectural photography. The back/mid element in this lense are able to change angle to correct perspective distortion caused by being close to a subject, such as the bottom of a building. In this example the edges of the building would converge. The change in angle of the element, removes this convergences and keeps the lines vertical as a true represenation of the image.
Time Lapse A photography method used to capture movement or an image where there is very little light available. The 'bulb' setting would be used in this instance.
TTL Throught The Lens. A metering system on most modern cameras which allows for light meter readings through the body of the camera.
Vanashing Point The at which paralell lines in an image appears to converge.
Viewfinder The viewfinder is what the photographer views to compose and focus scenes.
Vignetting A process used to gradually fade out the edges of an image to black or white.
Wide Open Used to describe the point at which the lens has reached it's maximum aperture.
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27 Oct 2011