Are you overwhelmed or confused by photography terms? Do you want to speak “photographer” like the pros?
That is what this article is all about.
I’ll go over one of the most common technical photography terms as well as some less typical slang and photographer lingo. By the end, I promise you will have a better grasp of the vocabulary. You’ll even be able to have a conversation with a seasoned pro plus hold your own!
Let’s get started.
Basic photography terms
These are the digital photography terms you’ll find inside your camera’s manual and in many beginner tutorials:
Aperture– The variable opening in the lens through which gentle passes to the film or even digital sensor. Aperture is measured in f-stops. I like to compare it for your pupil, which opens and closes to allow more or less lighting into your eye depending on the lighting level of the room.
Bracketing– Taking a series of images at different exposures. You may see an establishing on your camera that states AEB (auto exposure bracketing). Bracketing is often used when creating HDR images or in difficult lighting situations to may want to have a range of exposures from light to dark.
Bulb– the “B” setting on your camera in which the shutter remains open for as long as the button or cable connection release (remote trigger) is pressed.
- DSLR – A digital single-lens reflex camera. Any digital camera with interchangeable lenses where the image can be viewed using a mirror plus prism and the image will be taken directly through the zoom lens. What you see in your viewfinder is what the lens views.
EV– Exposure value; it is a number that represents the various different combinations of aperture and shutter speed that may create the same exposure effect.
Exposure compensation– Modifying the shutter speed or aperture from the camera’s recommended contact with create a certain effect or even correct for exposure troubles. Your camera reads light bouncing off your subject and it is designed to expose for medium gray. So when photographing a topic that is lighter or darker than 18% gray, you may use this setting to tell the particular camera the proper exposure (by dialing in – or + exposure compensation).
Direct exposure– The total amount of light achieving the digital sensor. It really is determined by the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
- F-stop – A measure of the aperture opening in the lens defined by separating the focal length of the lens by the aperture diameter. The particular sequence of f-stops features multiples of the square reason behind 2 (1. 4): 1, 1 . 4, 2, second . 8, 4, 5. six, 8, 11, 16, 22, etc . Though these quantities are rather cryptic, be sure to remember that each step is dual the amount of light. Know that, plus you’ve won half the battle.
ISO– Symbolizes the sensitivity of your camera’s digital sensor to gentle. The lower the number (ISO 100), the less sensitive in order to light; the higher the number (ISO 3200), the more sensitive in order to light. A higher ISO enables you to shoot in low-light circumstances.
Shutter speed– The amount of period the shutter is open up during an exposure. The shutter speed controls the look of motion. Use a fast shutter speed (such because 1/2000s) to freeze motion or a slow shutter acceleration (such as 1/30s or longer) to blur moving objects.
- Zoom lens – Any lens that has an adjustable focal length, such as a 24-70mm or an 18-55mm lens. You generally zoom in or out by rotating the barrel of the zoom lens.
Prime or fixed lens– Any lens that does not move and features a set focal length, such as a nifty 50mm lens.
- Remote trigger or electronic cable release – A device that allows the particular camera to be fired with no pressing the shutter button or touching the camera. Helps eliminate camera motion during long exposures.
Macro lens– A lens that focuses quite close to a topic, so you can capture highly detailed, magnified images.
- “Normal” zoom lens – Generally a 50mm lens (on a full-frame camera). This particular lens closely parallels what the human eye sees. Should you have a crop-sensor camera, the “normal” lens will be nearer to 35mm.
- Telephoto lens – Offers a tighter field of view than a normal lens (i. e., it takes more magnified images). Broadly speaking from around 70mm to 300mm. A super-telephoto lens is usually 300mm or longer.
- Wide-angle lens – A lens that features the wider field of view than a normal lens. Usually spans from over 10mm to under 50mm. Depending on the focal length, there can also be edge distortion (i. e., in super wide-angle lenses).
- Tilt-shift lens – A special-effect lens. Enables realignment of the plane of focus (tilt). Allows for adjusting the placement of the subject inside the frame without angling the particular camera, thus keeping seite an seite lines from converging (shift). A popular lens for architectural and landscape photographers and is becoming more widely used by family portrait photographers to create an unique, stylized look.
Camera resolution– The dimensions your camera’s messfühler is capable of capturing, indicated in megapixels. This is not the only factor in image quality, but the greater the resolution, the larger the prints you can generate without significant loss of high quality (generally speaking).
JPEG versus RAW– Two different image file types. Most digital cameras have the ability to shoot in JPEG and RAW. If you choose JPEG, the camera may shoot a RAW file, process it using the image style you’ve selected within your menu, save it being a JPEG, and discard the RAW version. If you choose RAW, the resulting document will be larger, carry more info, and require software in order to process. It gives you – the photographer – a lot more control over the final look of the image.
Full-frame vs crop/APS-C sensor– A full-frame sensor is roughly the size of 35mm film. Most lenses produce a circle of light just large enough to cover the 35mm sensor area. But in a crop-sensor camera, the particular physical size of the sensor is smaller; it only captures a portion of the whole image the lens is projecting, effectively cropping out part of the shot. Common harvest factors are 1 . 5x and 1 . 6x, so if you use a 50mm lens on an APS-C camera, it offers the 75mm focal length equivalent.
Camera modes– There are 4 standard camera modes. Auto mode selects settings with no user input. Manual mode allows the user to control the ISO, shutter speed, plus aperture. Shutter Priority setting allows the user to select the ISO and shutter speed as the camera selects the aperture. Aperture Priority mode allows the user to select the ISO and aperture while the camera recommendations the shutter speed. System mode allows the user to select the ISO while the camera recommendations the aperture and shutter speed.
Lighting and portrait picture taking terms
- Ambient light – Also referred to as accessible light. Ambient light takes place in the scene without incorporating any flash or light modifiers. It can be daylight, or even it can be artificial light like tungsten or fluorescent lights.
- Major light or key lighting – The primary light source for a photograph. It may be the sun, a studio strobe, a flash, a reflector, or something else. It’s the origin that produces the pattern of light on the subject with the most intensity.
Fill light– The light source that is secondary towards the key light. Used to “fill” in the shadows. Can be created with a flash, a reflector, or a studio strobe.
- Lights pattern – The way the light drops on the subject’s face (e. g., at a 45-degree angle).
- Lighting ratio – A comparison between your intensity (brightness) of the primary light and the fill gentle. In other words: the difference between the lighted and shadow sides from the subject’s face.
- Incident light meter – The handheld device that actions the amount of light falling on the subject. An incident meter is not fooled by the brightness range of the subject, whereas in-camera reflective meters can be fooled (resulting in overexposure and underexposure).
Speedlight– A small, portable flash that can attach to your own camera’s hot shoe or stand on its own when triggered remotely.
Reflector– A device used to reflect light (generally back toward the subject). It’s rather a specialized, factory-made reflector (I recommend getting a 5-in-1 ), or even a piece of white cardboard.
- Light meter – A device that measures the amount of light in a scene. Pretty much just about all modern cameras offer a pre-installed light meter, though it uses reflective readings (see the particular entry on incident light meters , above).
- Remote flash trigger – A device used to fire speedlights off-camera.
- Subtractive lighting – Taking away lighting to create a darker look. Attempting to involves holding a reflector or an opaque screen over the subject’s head to prevent light from above and open deep eye shadows caused by overhead lighting. It can also involve holding a black mirror opposite your main light to create a deeper shadow (i. e., essentially reflecting black onto the subject instead of light. )
Hard light– Harsh or non-diffused light such as that will produced by bright sunlight, a small speedlight, or an on-camera flash. Creates harsh shadows with well-defined edges, comparison, and texture (if used at an angle to the subject). Emphasizes texture, lines, and facial lines. Often used to create a lot more dramatic type of portrait.
Gentle light– Diffused light, for example that from an overcast sky, north-facing window with no direct light, or a huge studio softbox. This type of gentle produces soft shadows with soft edges, lower comparison, and less texture. Smooth light is generally preferred simply by most wedding and family portrait photographers because it flatters the subject.
- Advantage transfer – How quickly shadow sides go from dark in order to light. With harsh lighting, the edge transfer is very defined and sudden (almost an obvious line). With soft illumination, the edge transfer is much more refined – almost imperceptible – as it gradually changes from dark to light.
Display sync– The synchronization of the firing of an electronic adobe flash and the shutter speed. You need to know what shutter speed your own camera syncs at; or else, if you use a too-fast shutter speed, you may get a partly illuminated image. For most digital cameras, the sync speed is about 1/200s.
Slang and photography lingo
Here are a few various other photography terms that are a bit more advanced (including some wacky jargon and slang! ). Become familiar with this terminology so that you can talk to pros with confidence.
- Quick glass – Refers to a lens using a very large maximum aperture (such as f/1. 8 or even f/1. 2). The zoom lens is “fast” because it enables you to shoot with a fast shutter speed.
Chimping– Slang term for looking at the back of your camerafter every picture. Has a negative connotation; if you chimp , you’re spending too much time critiquing images on the camera instead of enough time shooting.
Bokeh– The particular out-of-focus blurred bits within an image background. Most often bokeh occurs when small gentle sources are in the background.
Depth of field (DOF or DoF) – The distance between the nearest plus farthest objects in your scene that appear in focus. Controlled by many factors, including the aperture, lens focal duration, and distance to the subject matter.
Hyperfocal distance– The focus distance providing the maximum depth associated with field for a particular aperture and focal length. Old prime lenses often have hyperfocal distance marks to aid in finding this depth-of-field sweet spot. With today’s lenses, it is possible to calculate the hyperfocal range, but it takes a bit more function and a hyperfocal distance finance calculator.
Gobo– Something used to obstruct unwanted or stray lighting from falling onto the topic. Often the dark side of a reflector is used as a gobo.
Scrim– A translucent device used to diffuse and ease the light. Can be a reflector with a translucent panel. Scrims can be made extremely large and clamped in place to create tone even in direct sunlight.
- Shutter lag – The minor delay from the time you press the shutter key to the time the shutter actually opens. In Digital slrs and mirrorless cameras, shutter lag is minimal and almost unnoticeable. In smaller point-and-shoot cameras, the delay much more pronounced (and can cause you to miss shots of fast-moving subjects).
Chromatic aberration– Color fringing that can appear in regions of images where dark meets light (e. g., the edge of a building against the sky). CA is correctable to some great degree using Photoshop, Lightroom, and most other editing software.
- Rear-curtain sync – Rear-curtain sync fire the flash at the end of a good exposure. By default, most cameras are set to front-curtain sync (i. e., if the display fires, it does so at the beginning of the exposure). When capturing a moving subject, front-curtain sync will put any motion blur in front of the subject matter, whereas rear-curtain sync will place the blur behind the subject. Neither is wrong; this will depend on the effect you’re after.
Camera shake– When a camera moves during an direct exposure and creates blur.
Zoom lens flare– Stray light that creates haze, circles, or other artifacts in an image. Some photographers actually desire lens flare; they position their cameras to create flare and use it as a compositional element.
- Kelvin – The measurement of color temp. Lower numbers represent hotter colors like orange (tungsten light), whereas the higher amounts are cooler (blues). Play with the color temperature to create various effects.
ND filter– Stands for neutral denseness filter . It’s the filter designed to go in front of the lens to stop some of the light entering the particular camera. Often used by scenery photographers to get slow shutter speeds when photographing waterfalls and streams in full daytime.
Panning– The act associated with using a slow shutter rate and moving the camera in the same direction as a moving subject. Creates an artistic, blurred background.
- Stopping straight down – Shutting down the aperture to a smaller opening (e. g., heading from f/5. 6 to f/8).
TTL and ETTL– TTL stands for through the lens ; it refers to the metering system in regard to flash exposure. The flash emits light until it is turned off by the digital camera sensor. ETTL stands for evaluative through-the-lens metering . It fires a “preflash” to evaluate and determine for lost light, then compensates and fires the main flash. It happens therefore fast you do not see two flashes.
- Photog – Short for “photographer. ” Something pros often contact each other.
- Glass – A lens. As in, “What glass do you own? ”
Golden hour– Also called “magic hr. ” This is the hour or even two right before sunset plus right after sunrise. The sun is usually low on the horizon, and it is an optimal time for picture taking.
- Apply and pray – Shoot as many images as possible while praying you receive something good.
- Blown out – An image with no details in the white areas.
- Clipped – Possibly blown out areas (above) or dark, detailless dark areas.
- Grip-and-grin – A quick photoshoot at an event or perhaps a setup with two people trembling hands. Most portrait and event photographers have to take these at some point in their professions.
- Selfie – A self-portrait.
- SOOC – Straight out of camera; an image with no post-processing.
- Dust bunnies – Dark areas that appear on an image caused by bits of dust on the electronic sensor.
- Pixel peeper – Someone who spends a lot of time looking at images magnified in Photoshop.
Nifty fifty– A 50mm prime zoom lens. Great to have!
ACR– Adobe Camera Raw. The editing software that’s packaged together with Photoshop.
- Flash and drag – The method associated with using a slow shutter rate combined with flash to capture more of the ambient light in proportion to the flash.
- Wide open – Using your lens using the aperture at its widest setting (f/1. 8, meant for example).
Photography terminology: final words
Whew! That was a long list. If you made it this far, congrats; you know how to use photography conditions like a pro.
So get out there and begin practicing your photography terminology. Be sure to have lots of enjoyable!
Now over to you:
What photography terms do you struggle with? Do you have any more terms I should add to this list? Reveal your thoughts in the comments below!
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