Photography & Camera Terms
Aperture - The lens opening that change in diameter, thereby determining how much light comes into the lens of your camera and hits the sensor.
F-Stop or F-Number - A number that indicates the size of the aperture lens opening such as f/1.4, f/4, f/5.6, f/16, and f/22. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the lens opening. F-stop determines your depth of field.
Depth of Field - This is the range of distance within the subject that is acceptably and sharply in focus. It can be controlled using your F stops.
Autofocus (AF) - A common system on cameras where the camera lens automatically focuses the image using a selected part of the picture.
Barn Doors - Attachments for flash devices that feature movable flaps, which allow you to finely tune light output.
Burst Mode - A special capture setting, offered on some digital cameras, that records several images in rapid succession with one press of the shutter button. Also called continuous capture mode.
Card Reader - A device into which you insert a digital camera’s memory card, then attach to your computer to make that memory card appear as just another drive to your computer.
Contrast - The range of difference in the light to dark areas of a photo.
Crop - To trim an image or page by adjusting its boundaries.
Exposure - The amount of light allowed to reach the film or sensor, determined by the intensity of the light, the amount admitted by the iris of the lens, and the length of time determined by the shutter speed.
External Flash - A supplementary flash unit attached to the camera. External flashes are used for many things including increased flash range and red-eye reduction.
File Format - A way of storing image data in a file.
Filter - A colored or transparent round glass the size of a camera lens which a photographer attaches to the camera by either screwing it onto a lens, holding it in front of the lens, or inserting it in a filter holder. The filter gives different effects to the photographer's images, depending on the type of filter.
Fixed-Focus Lens - A non-adjustable camera lens, which is set for a fixed distance.
Flash - The burst of light that comes from the camera when a picture is taken to illuminate your subject.
Fill Flash - Light that will fill in any dark spots or shadows.
Focal Length - The distance, as marked on the lens, between the film or sensor and the optical center of the lens when the lens is focused on infinity. The distance is often listed in millimeters, such as 50mm.
Focus - The act of adjusting the focus setting on a lens in order to sharply define the subject.
Highlights - The brightest areas of a subject.
Histogram - A graph that maps out brightness values in a digital image; usually found inside exposure-correction filter dialog boxes.
Hot Spot - A bright area in a photograph that come from reflections on eyeglasses or unevenly spread lighting.
Hot Shoe - The area on a camera that holds a small external flash.
Image Stabilization or Vibration Reducing - A lens with an internal system to detect camera shake and compensate for it.
Internal Flash - A flash integrated into the body of the camera, usually on the top.
ISO - Light sensitivity of your camera’s sensor. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera will be to light and the grainier your images will be. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive the camera will be to light and the less grainier your images. Higher ISOs allow for faster shutter speeds.
ISO 100 = great for daylight use, no image grain.
ISO 400 = great for twilight use, a bit more grain.
ISO 1600 = much more suited towards low light or high action where you need to stop fast movement.
ISO 6400 = Even better suited to low light and fast action, but delivers grainy images.
JPEG - Pronounced jay-peg. The primary file format used by digital cameras; also the leading format for online and Web pictures.
JPEG+Raw - A camera setting that creates both a Camera Raw file and a JPEG file of a picture.
Lens - Optical glass or a similar material that collects and focuses light to form an image on film or sensor.
Lens Hood or Shade - An attachment located at the front of a lens to keep unwanted light from striking the lens and causing image flare.
Light Meter or Exposure Meter - An instrument that measures the light reflected from or falling on an object for proper exposure. Cameras often have an internal light meter but external light meters are more effective.
Macro Lens - A lens which changes the perspective to focus from an extremely close distance to infinity.
Manual Focus - The process of setting the focus using the focus ring on the lens instead of using the camera's auto-focus system.
Manual Setting - An exposure setting where the aperture setting and the shutter speed are both set by the photographer. It gives the photographer more freedom in choosing shutter speed and depth of field when composing.
Memory Card - A camera’s removable storage media.
Monopod - A one-legged support, or unipod, used to steady the camera.
Overexposure - The washed-out, overly bright areas of a photograph due to too much light reaching the film or image-sensor.
Panorama - A broad view, usually scenic. Some digital cameras also have a panorama mode used with software to stitch the images together.
PNG - A file format designed to work well with online viewing applications.
RAW - A file format offered by some digital cameras; records the photo without applying any of the in-camera processing that is usually done automatically when saving photos in other formats. Is a much larger file that contains lots of information and allows for more flexible editing.
Reflector - Any device which reflects light onto a subject.
RGB - The standard color model for digital images; all colors are created by mixing red, green, and blue light.
Rule of Thirds - A way of mentally dividing your picture horizontally and vertically into thirds, then placing important subject matter where these lines intersect.
Scanner - A device that captures an image of a piece of artwork, a slide, or a negative, and then converts it to a digitized image or bitmap that the computer can handle.
Shutter - The device in a camera that opens and shuts to allow light into the camera.
Shutter Speed - This is how long your camera’s shutter stays open for and it can be read on either the back of your screen or within the viewfinder. It is typically a fraction or a whole number.
1/15 = a fifteenth of a second
1/1000= a thousandth of a second
1”= 1 second
15” = fifteen seconds
Here are the basic rules to follow:
- The longer the shutter speed the more motion that will be captured and the stiller you need to
remain. This is great for capturing nighttime scenes.
- The faster the shutter speed the less motion will be captured. This is great for capturing fast
moving objects like sports action.
Single-Lens-Reflex (SLR) Camera - A camera in which you view the scene through the same lens that takes the picture.
Telephoto Lens - A lens that magnifies an image.
TIFF - Pronounced tiff, as in a little quarrel. Stands for tagged image file format. A popular image format supported by most Macintosh and Windows programs.
Time-Lapse - Taking a picture at specified intervals to capture an event occuring over a long period of time.
Tripod - A three-legged support that holds the camera steady.
Underexposed - When too little light hits the camera’s film or image-sensor array, creating an image that’s too dark.
USB - Stands for Universal Serial Bus. A type of port now included on most computers. Most digital cameras come with a USB cable for connecting the camera to this port.
Viewfinder - The area on the camera where the photographer views the subject area that will be recorded on the film.
White Balance - Adjusting the camera to compensate for the type of light hitting the photographic subject. Eliminates unwanted color casts produced by some light sources, such as fluorescent office lighting.
Wide-Angle Lens - A lens which changes the perspective to make the objects appear in a wider field of view.
Zoom - A lens which changes the perspective like a telephoto or wide-angle lens. The zoom, though, has a wide range of focal lengths, allowing the photographer to change the perspective from close in to far away.
Ambient Light - The natural, available light in a scene.
Back Lighting - The light coming from behind the subject.
Bounce Lighting (reflector) - Light that is bounced off a reflector to give the effect of ambient light.
Diffuse Lighting or Soft Lighting - Lighting that is low or moderate in contrast.
Fill-In Light - Light added to the existing light by use of a lamp, flash or reflector.
Front Lighting - Light shining from the direction of the camera toward the subject.
Side Lighting - Light shining on the subject from the side relative to the camera, often casting long shadows.