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Terms in Photography

Terms in Photography

Terms in photography:

Aperture: This is the first common photography term you should learn. Simply put, aperture is the size of the opening in the lens. Think of the lens as a window—large windows or wide angles let in more light, while small windows let in less light. A wide open aperture will let more light into the image for a brighter photo, while a smaller aperture lets in less light.

Burst Mode: You can take photos one at a time. Or, you can turn the burst mode on and the camera will continue snapping photos as long as you hold the button down, or until the buffer is full. Burst speeds differ based on what camera or film camera you own, some are faster than others. 

Depth of Field: Depth of field is a photography term that refers to how much of the image is in focus. The camera will focus on one distance, but there’s a range of distance in front and behind that point that stays sharp—that’s depth of field. Portraits often have a soft, unfocused background—this is a shallow depth of field. Landscapes, on the other hand, often have more of the image in focus—this is a large depth of field, with a big range of distance that stays sharp.

Long Exposure: A long exposure is an image that has been exposed for a long time or uses a long shutter speed. This technique is useful for shooting still objects in low light (used often by landscape photographers), or rendering moving objects into an artistic blur.

Viewfinder: That’s the hole you look through to take the picture. Some digital cameras don’t have one and just use the screen, but all DSLRs and most mirrorless cameras use them.

White Balance: Your eyes automatically adjust to different light sources, but a camera can’t do that—that’s why sometimes you take an image and it looks very blue or very yellow. Using the right white balance setting will make what’s white in real life actually appear white in the photo. There’s an auto white balance setting, but like any automatic setting, it’s not always accurate. You can use a preset based on what light you are shooting in like sun or tungsten light bulbs, or you can take a picture of a white object and manually set the white balance.

Dedicated Flash: A fully automatic flash that works only with specific cameras. Dedicated flash units automatically set the proper flash sync speed and lens aperture, and electronic sensors within the camera automatically control exposure by regulating the amount of light from the flash.

Emulsion: Micro-thin layers of gelatin on film in which light-sensitive ingredients are suspended; triggered by light to create a chemical reaction resulting in a photographic image.

Existing Light: Available light. Strictly speaking, existing light covers all natural lighting from moonlight to sunshine. For photographic purposes, existing light is the light that is already on the scene or project and includes room lamps, fluorescent lamps, spotlights, neon signs, candles, daylight through windows, outdoor scenes at twilight or in moonlight, and scenes artificially illuminated after dark.

Hot Shoe: The fitting on a camera that holds a small portable flash. It has an electrical contact that aligns with the contact on the flash units "foot" and fires the flash when you press the shutter release. This direct flash-to-camera contact eliminates the need for a PC cord.

Interpolation: A digital process of increasing file size. Software doubles the pixels, care must be taken as quality of final image may be compromised.

ISO Speed: The emulsion speed (sensitivity) of the camera as determined by the standards of the International Standards Organization. We have found that higher ISO numbers in digital cameras result in increased noise.

Lens: One or more pieces of optical glass or similar material designed to collect and focus rays of light to form a sharp image on the film, paper, or projection screen.

Motor Drive: A mechanism for advancing the film to the next frame and re-cocking the shutter, activated by an electric motor usually powered by batteries. This is popular for action-sequence photography and for recording images by remote control.