Photography Terms Explained: A Dictionary

photography terms explained

Introduction

Photography terms explained in a simple and easy-to-understand manner, with each term presented in alphabetical order. A dictionary of photography terms.

Aperture

Aperture is the term used to describe the opening of a lens's diaphragm, which allows light to pass through your lens and reach the sensor of your camera. 

what is aperture?

Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture Priority is a semi-automatic exposure mode in which you select the Aperture, and your camera automatically adjusts the Shutter Speed and ISO.

APS-C Sensor

An APS-C sensor is a common size sensor used in mirrorless cameras. It's smaller than a full-frame sensor but larger than a ''Micro Four Thirds'' sensor. APS-C sensors offer a good balance of cost, size, and image quality.

Aspect Ratio

In photography, the term "Aspect Ratio" describes how the width and height of an image are proportionally related. 

For instance, an aspect ratio of 1:1 indicates that the width and height are the same, with one unit of width matching one unit of height.

On the other hand, a 16:9 aspect ratio signifies that for every 16 units of width, you'll have 9 units of height.

Aspect Ratio Examples. 16:9, 4:5, 1:1, 3:2

Astrophotography

Astrophotography is a type of photography that specializes in taking photos of the stars, planets, and generally celestial bodies.

what is astrophotography?

Barrel Distortion

Barrel Distortion in photography is a lens aberration that causes straight lines to appear curved outward, like the sides of a barrel. It typically occurs in wide-angle lenses and can distort the appearance of objects, especially at the edges of the frame.

what is barrel distortion? photography

Blue Hour

In photography, the term "Blue Hour" describes a brief period just before sunrise or after sunset when the sky adopts a blue tone due to the natural light conditions.

What is the Blue Hour in photography?

Bokeh

Bokeh refers to the blurred background in a photo caused by being deliberately out of focus. For instance, in a portrait shot, the background is intentionally out of focus, creating a bokeh effect. 

What is Bokeh? Blurred background in photography

Chimping

Chimping in photography is the practice of immediately checking and reviewing the photos you've taken.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration, also known as color fringing, occurs when colors become distorted, creating an unintended outline of color along the edges of objects in a photograph.

This effect is often noticeable on reflective surfaces or in situations with significant differences in brightness, such as tree branches set against a bright blue sky.

What is Chromatic aberration in photography

Curves

Curves in photography are a tool that allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, and colors in a picture using a graphical curve. It's a tool for fine-tuning your image.

what is curves in photography?

Depth of Field

Depth of field in photography, simply put, refers to the focused area in your photo. It is essentially the range of distances between the closest and farthest objects within the sharp zone of an image.

You can manage your depth of field by modifying your aperture settings. Choose a larger aperture number for a greater depth of field, and a smaller aperture number for a shallower depth of field.

DSLR Camera

A DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera is a type of digital camera with interchangeable lenses, and it uses a mirror and an optical viewfinder for composing photos. DSLR cameras are generally larger and bulkier compared to mirrorless cameras.

what is a dslr camera?

Dynamic Range

In photography, "Dynamic Range" refers to the range of brightness and darkness that a camera can capture in a single picture. A camera with good dynamic range can simultaneously capture both very bright and very dark areas in a photo, allowing you to see details in all parts of the image.

Exposure

Exposure in photography refers to the amount of light that enters the camera and reaches the image sensor. Achieving the right exposure you need to control three main things: Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO. These three elements are known as the Exposure Triangle

Field of View

In photography, 'field of view' means how much of the scene or subject is visible in one photo. It's similar to the camera's viewpoint, determining whether you capture a wide or narrow view in your picture. You can adjust your field of view by changing lenses. Shorter focal lengths give you a wider field of view, while longer focal lengths result in a narrower field of view.

It's essentially about how much of the scene you can include in your photo.

Focal Length

In photography, focal length is the distance between the lens and the image sensor. It affects the field of view, perspective, depth of field, and magnification in photos.

Shorter focal lengths capture a wider view and can cause barrel distortion, while longer ones bring distant subjects closer.

Full Frame Sensor 

A full-frame sensor is larger than an APS-C sensor but smaller than a medium format sensor. Full-frame sensors generally produce images with higher resolutions compared to APS-C sensors.

Golden Hour

Golden hour refers to the time before sunset and after sunrise when the sun is close to the horizon. During this period, the sunlight has a warm hue.

What is golden hour in photography?

HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. One technique used to produce an HDR image involves combining multiple photos with different exposures.

For example, you could capture one photo with well-exposed clouds and another with correctly exposed shadows.

By blending these images together, you can create a photograph that simultaneously reveals both the shadows and the clouds.

What is HDR in photography

Histogram

A Histogram in photography is a graph that shows the distribution of brightness levels in an image, from dark tones on the left to bright tones on the right.

A balanced histogram with no clipping at either end indicates a well-exposed image. Left-skewed histograms suggest underexposure, and right-skewed histograms indicate overexposure.

histogram photography

Hot Shoe

In photography, a hot shoe is a camera feature typically found at the top of the camera body, which is used to attach accessories like external flash units, microphones, and various other devices.

what is hoe shot in photography?

HSL

HSL in photography stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. It's a way to adjust color, color intensity, and brightness in images using photo editing software.

Hue changes the color, Saturation adjusts color intensity, and Luminance controls brightness.

what is HSL in photography?

ISO

ISO refers to how sensitive your camera is to light. It plays a crucial role in capturing images with the desired exposure and minimizing noise.

A lower ISO setting means the camera is less sensitive to light, while a higher ISO setting indicates increased sensitivity.

Macro Photography

Macro photography is extreme close-up photography, capturing tiny subjects at high magnification to reveal intricate details.

What is macro photography

Metadata

Metadata in photography includes information connected to your photos, such as the date they were taken, camera settings, location, copyright, etc.

Micro Four Thirds Sensor

A Micro Four Thirds sensor is smaller than an APS-C sensor, offering a more compact camera design with interchangeable lenses. It has some advantages but may have limitations in image quality

Mirrorless Camera

A mirrorless camera is a type of digital camera that lacks the reflex mirror found in DSLR cameras. It offers interchangeable lenses and provides a compact and lightweight design.

what is a mirrorless camera?

Noise

In photography, noise is the grainy texture that appears in photos when you use a high ISO setting.

photo with noise. camp fire

Optical Zoom

Optical zoom in photography is similar to using binoculars. It allows you to zoom by adjusting the lens's glass components without sacrificing image quality.

Prime Lenses

Prime lenses are lenses with a fixed focal length, in simpler terms, lenses that can't zoom.

RAW

RAW in photography, refers to the format in which you capture images with your digital camera without any compression or loss of quality.

Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed is a photography term that refers to how long the camera's shutter remains open when taking a photo. This timespan has different duration options, like 1s, 1/125s, 1/1000s etc.

Telephoto Lens

In photography, a telephoto lens is a type of lens designed to capture distant objects, much like binoculars for your camera. These lenses are commonly used for wildlife photography, sports photography, and more.

Vignette

In photography, vignette is when the corners of a picture are darker or less clear than the center, which can add a special focus to the center of the image.

What is vignette

White Balance

White Balance is a camera setting that determines the accurate representation of white color in your photography and allows you to adjust the temperature of your photos.

what is white balance?

Wide Angle Lens

A wide-angle lens is a camera lens that captures a wide field of view, allowing you to include more in your photos. It's great for photographing broad scenes, such as landscapes and large buildings, and for getting close to your subject while still showing plenty of the surrounding area.

What is Wide Angle Lens

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