Photography Glossary

Posted on January 1, 2015 by Admin under Photography Glossary, Uncategorized
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Photography Glossary- A to Z

This photography glossary uses common terms relating to a photographers Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR),

if you know any relevant term not mention in this post can you add the comment in the comment box below and if correct will be added to the glossary.




Aberration: A lens defect; causes completely blurred images. There are six types of aberrations: spherical, coma, astigmatism, curvature of field, distortion and chromatic.

Achromatic lens: A lens that is designed to correct for chromatic aberration. Usually used in telephoto lenses that have large maximum apertures. (See Chromatic Aberration.)

Acutance: The systems ability to change tonal values from one to another in the shortest space of time.

Additive Primaries: The colours Red, green and blue (RGB) produce the colour white when added together; used primarily with light sources.

Adobe RGB (1998): This colour space has an effective colour gamut, which closely approximates the CMYK printer’s gamut, also is used by most professional print based photography.

 The adjustment opens in the camera lens that controls the amount of light that reaches the film plane. The size of the hole is called the f-stop.

Aperture Priority Mode: The user manually selects the aperture and the camera, in conjunction with the metering system, selects the shutter speed. A small aperture increases the depth of field, where as a large aperture reduces the depth of field (see Depth Of Field).

Apochromatic Lens: A lens designed to accurately correct for chromatic aberration by focusing all wavelengths into the same plane of focus, to correct colour aberrations.

Automatic Lens: A modern SLR lens, which remains at maximum aperture regardless of the selected aperture, until the shutter is depressed.


 A light source is situated behind the subject can cause under exposure of the subject.

Barrel Distortion: A lens distortion, which bows outward the parallel edges of the image frame.

Bayer Pattern Array: The most common colour distribution pattern on CCD and CMOS digital sensors. This array employs twice as many green receptors as it does red or blue receptors. An array can be formed of millions of tiny cavities or “photosites” to record an image.

Bellows: In photography a bellow is a flexible, light tight rectangular tube, which is placed between the lens and the camera to facilitate close up photography.

Bit Depth: Represents, every colour pixel in an image is created through some combination of the three primary colours: red, green and blue. . The 8 bit represents 2 to the power of 8 or 256 gradations and 16 bit represents 2 to the power of 16 or 65,536 tonal gradations per colour channel.

Blooming: Occurs when a sensor element receives too much light and the stray electrons spill over into adjacent sensor elements. This can be common in CCD sensors.

Bokeh: The term comes from the Japanese word boke, which means blur or haze and in photography the term is commonly used to describe the blur on an image.

Bounced Light: The practice of reflecting light off a usually white surface.

Bracket Exposure: To take a range of exposures; often with the middle exposure, assumed to be the correct exposure.

Brief: A set of usually visual instructions, used in advertising to convey an idea to a creative team.


Cable Release: This attachment is to release the shutter of the camera from a distance, using a cable or remote control. This method is commonly used to reduce camera shake on long or slow exposures.

Camera RAW: A raw file format captures the raw information that the cameras sensor collects without interpolation or compression. This method is generally preferred for professional image capture.

CCD: A charged coupled device. This is one type of sensor used in digital photography. The CCD array uses the Bayer pattern.

CDR: Compact Disc Recorder is used to record digital information that is not editable.

Channel: Digital sensor information of the primary colours, red, green and blue, (RGB.) Are stored in segregated locations or channels.

Chip: Digital silicone sensor

Chromatic Aberration: A common fault on telescopic lenses where colours do not focus on the same point.

CIE: French for Commission Internationale l’Eclairage which translates as the International Illumination Commission. See also LAB colour.

Circle of Confusion: Is when an image is displayed using circles of light, these non-sharp circles create a usually large image, such as a posters, on close inspection these circles are obvious.

Close-up Rings: An extension ring, which fits between the lens and camera to facilitate close–up photography. A type of inflexible, fixed length bellows attachment. They usually come in sets of different length tubes.

CMOS: A complementary metal oxide semiconductor. It has similar functions as the CCD sensor that uses the Bayer Pattern Array.

CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, yellow and Black are known as the subtractive primaries. They are used by photo-labs in the printing industry.

Colour Bias: A deviation from normal white balance towards red, green and blue.

Colour Fringes: Poor quality lenses can cause extraneous colourisation along edges, also poor registration in multi-shots and interpolation artifacts in one-shot system.

Colour Temperature: The colour of a light source expressed in degrees kelvin (K).

Colour Temp: Meter: The colour temperature of a light source displayed on an electronic device.

Contrast: Is an effect of light and dark more defined by black and white, a high contrast, where distinction between greys and shadow can be a low contrast.

CRT: Cathode Ray Tube. These are old style computer monitors that are almost phased out by modern technology.

Copal Shutter: This shutter mechanism is used with a large format camera, where the operator can expose the diaphragm blades by removing the front and rear lens.


Daguerreotype: An early photographic process developed in 1839 by Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, which produced a positive image on a polished metal plate; usually copper.

Depth of Field: The distance in a photograph between the nearest objects which retains sharp focus and furthest object, which retains sharp focus. Setting the aperture controls depth of field. Some lenses have depth of field scale on the top of the lens barrel.

Depth of Field Preview: A facility on most DSLR cameras, it closes down to the shooting aperture. This can be used as an evaluation tool.

Diaphragm: Diaphragm blades are situated inside the lens and are adjustable by opening and closing the diaphragm. This is controlled by setting the aperture.

Diffraction: A fault in a lens, a scattering of light within the lens causing less sharpness and resolution.

DOT GAIN: A percentage measurement of ink spread across the paper when printing.

DPI: Dots per inch is print resolution or the finesse. The amount of light passed by shutter speed of a halftone screen.

DSLR: Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.

DVD: Digital Video Disk used for storing of images or digital files.

Dynamic Range: The range of light intensity in stops. This recorded in certain film, paper and digital sensors.


Exposure: The amount of light allowed to pass onto the cameras sensor, with shutter speed and aperture.


F/stop: a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters a camera.

Fast Lens: A fast lens has a wide maximum aperture and is more expensive than a slow lens because it has a greater capability.

Fill:To lighten shadows.

Film Density: This refers to the overall thickness of silver on a films surface.

Film Plane: Originally, this term refers to the location of film in a camera, such as where the nearest edge of the film sits; also this refers to the location of a cameras sensor.

Filter: A filter is optical glass, usually coloured or has a special effect, the typical filter is screwed onto the lens where it can effect the image by correcting colour, polarizing, magnifying and many special effects.

Filter Factor: The filter factor is the loss of light enabled by the use of a filter, such as a filter factor of 2 is equal to one f/stop.

Flare: A direct light, such as sunlight enters the lens and causes a poor contrast and a low detail.

Flash Lighting: A flash of light from a flash gun or flash tube to highlight the subject of a photographic image.

Flash Duration: The full duration of light flashed by the flash gun or tube.

Fly On The Wall: A candid or not posed shot, also referred to as a shot from the hip.

Focal Length: A distance from the optical centre point of the lens or nodal point to the point of focus, measured in millimeters. A lens can be referred to by its focal length.

Focal Plane Shutter: This is common to SLR cameras. A shutter that sits in the focal plane, just in front of the film or sensor in a DSLR camera.

Focusing Screen: An optically diffused or piece of ground glass that allows the image to be viewed.

Foreshorten: To visually makes something appear shorter as an aid to perspective enhancement.


Gamut: The colour ranges within a colour space, for example sRGB, Adobe RGB are widely used with computer monitors.

Greyscale: In the photography world the greyscale term is used to describe a scale from pure black to pure white in one-stop intervals.


High Key Image: An image where shadows are greatly reduced and highlights and mid-tones are the high key.

Highlight: The highest points of light in a photograph.

Histogram: A graphical representation exposure of shadows, mid-tones and light. A Histogram can be represented in coluor or black and white.

Hyperfocal Distance: The shortest distance a lens can be focused and still be sharp at infinity.


In Camera Light Meter: A reflective light meter, integral part of the camera.

Infinity Focus: Infinity is graphically illustrated by the ∞ symbol and is found on the camera lens. A distant object that is focused upon sends the rays of light parallel into the lens.

In Lens Shutter: An in lens shutter has the ability to flash synchronize at any speed with less vibration.

Incident Light Meter: A possibly slow but accurate light meter that is used to measure falling or incidental light, to aid evaluative correct exposure.

ISO: An acronym that stands for “International standards organization” shows the grade of light sensitivity for film or digital sensors. It has replaced the old ASA “American National Standard Institute” rating: however they are interchangeable.


LAB Colour: Developed by the Commission Internationale l’Eclairage (CIE). This colour space represents each colour by its luminance and where it falls on a (red/green) and b (yellow/blue) colour axis.

Large Format: A camera that uses sheet film in a larger size than roll film. Large format cameras usually have at least one adjustable standard.

Latent Image: A latent image is an invisible image produced by the exposure to light of a photosensitive material such as photographic film. When photographic film is developed, the area that was exposed darkens and forms a visible image.

LCD: Liquid crystal display (LCD) is a flat panel display, that uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly.

Lens Hood: A lens hood is attached to the front of the lens to create shade and this can reduce direct light from entering the camera and helps prevent flare.

Light Meter: An incident light meter is hand held and proves to have greater accuracy than the cameras integrated reflective meter.

Linear: In a straight line, also a straight line response.

Long Lens: A telephoto lens with a focal length greater than a normal lens.

Low Zone Shadow Details: Deep shadows.

LPI: Lines per inch is the current terminology for determining the resolution of a half tone screen used for printing images on a printer press.


Macro: A photography close view of a subject, using a macro lens and associated equipment.

Manual Mode: The user has to select the functions of the camera, such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

Megapixel: The resolution of the digital sensor is measured, by the vertical silicone sensors, then multiplied by the horizontal silicone sensors. In essence, one megapixel is equal to one million pixels.

Microprism: A small prism that is a focusing aid, some SLR cameras have microprisms integrated on the focusing screen.

Mired Scale: Mired is an acronym for micro-reciprocal-degrees. This scale can be used to ease some difficulties involved in calculating colour filtration.

Mirror Lens: A mirror lens, also known as a reflex lens will use the mirror to focus.

Mirror Lock: This is when the mirror is locked above the focal plane of the camera, this is commonly used for long exposure as it reduces the possibility of camera shake.

Moire: A pattern of interference between the image subject and the sensor elements. This pattern configuration causes conflict on the image.


Negative Film: This type of film captures reverse images of the subject in black and white or colour. When printed onto paper it produces a positive image.

Neutral Density Filter: A grey filter that gives a neutral effect on the image colour and reduces amount of light entering the camera evenly.

Noise: Image noise is random and can ruin an image (not present in the subject image). This can be caused by electronic emissions with the digital sensor.

Normal Lens: A normal lens or standard lens has an approximately equal focal length to the diagonal measurement of the digital sensor.


Overexposure: An image has overexposure when too much light is emitted into the camera and the sensor or film and detail and resolution is lost in the highlights.


Panchromatic Film: A film, which is sensitive to all colours of the spectrum.

Perspective Control Lens: A shift lens, that allows the axis to be shifted.

Photojournalism: A selection of photographs that tell a story, usually in a newspaper or magazine.

Photoshop®: The industry standard retouching software developed by Adobe Systems Inc.

Pincushion Distortion: A lens fault where the parallel sides of the image are bent inwards.

Pinhole: A rudimentary form of photography where a pinhole is used and not a lens.

Pixel: In digital imaging, a pixel is a physical point in a raster image, a light sensitive silicone receptor on a digital sensor.

Polariser: A filter that reduces reflective light by allowing light to pass in only one plane.

Polaroids: Polaroid Land Corporation, created an instant print system for black and white as well as colour film and negatives. Being pioneers in this method of photography, the term poloroid was used for most instant photos, although technically incorrect.

PPI: Pixels per inch, a reference for digital image resolution.

Previsualisation: A predetermined visualisation of an image before the image is printed or exposed.

Prime Lens: A prime lens has a fixed focal length and superior optical qualities in comparison of zoom lenses.

Program Mode: A shooting mode where the aperture and shutter speed are selected by the camera.

Pulled Development: A reduction in the time that film is immersed into the developer thus reducing film density.

Pushed Development: An increase in the time that film is immersed into the developer thus increasing film density.

Pyrex: A transparent and heat resistant glass used to protect electronic flash tubes.


Quick Cycle Portable Flash: This portable flash unit can be hand held, attached to a cameras hot shoe or placed in another location and use an infrared trigger. It is battery powered with a relatively low output.


Rangefinder: A focus system that uses an objective lens and a separate focusing lens. A ghost image is superimposed on the primary image and focused by bringing into alignment.

RAM: Random Access Memory is a temporary digital storage that is fast and volatile:

RAW: This format captures an image without interpolation, which contains the raw information from the digital sensor.

Reciprocity: A The non-linear response of film at low light levels, an increase in exposure has a diminished effect upon film density.

Reflected Light Meter: This meter is integrated inside the camera and measures light reflected from the subject in the image. A reflective meter can also be hand held version.

Reflector: A white or reflective surface used to bounce light onto a subject in an image.

Reflex Lens: A long focal length mirror lens.

Resolution: The resolution shows the respective detail.

RGB: Red, green and blue are the primary colours used to record and display on camera or monitor, as well as widely used for inkjet printers. Industrial printers and top specification printers use CMYK colour system; these are known as additive primaries.

Roll Film: A roll of film is wrapped around a spool in varying sizes.


Saturation: The intensity of a colour.

Scanning Digital Back: Digital information is captured through the physical movement of a scanner head. Usually attached to the rear of a large format camera.

Scrim: A material of a translucent material used to diffuse light.

Shadow Scene With Subdued Highlight: The scene has an even non-direct light source can be used to create a dark scene.

Shift Lens: Also known, as a perspective control lens is usually a medium wide focal length, this lens can be adjusted to shift the lens elements off axis to straighten converging lines.

Shoulder: Represents the highlight values on a film density/ exposure curve.

Shutter: A shutter allows light to be received by the sensor for a measured amount of time.

Shutter Priority Mode: The shutter speed is manually selected and the camera and the integrated light meter select the aperture.

Standard: A method of attaching a lens or film back to a view camera. The front and rear standards on a large format camera are usually adjustable in all directions, which allow for precise focus and perspective control.

Specular Highlight: Usually a small highlight that is too intense for the sensor to gather colour information and is shown as pure white.

Spot Meter: A reflective light meter, where a specific area of the image is read, usually these shots are high contrast where shadow and light need to be metered.

sRGB: Microsoft and HP developed this colour space to approximate the gamut of LCD monitors, scanners and the internet.

Standard Lens: A normal lens, roughly considered, to be a 50mm focal length on a small format SLR, 75mm on a medium format, 150mm on a 9×12 cm large format and 300mm on 18×24 cm large format.

Stop: see F/stop.

Stop Down: Closing the aperture to a lesser amount (higher number).

Subtractive Primaries: Such as the colours cyan, magenta and yellow, these colours when added together produce black, this is primarily used for colour printing. When black is added this makes CMYK and this produces a richer black.

SWOP: “Specifications for Web Offset Publications” the abbreviation swap is a uniform standard in printing.

Synch Speed: The maximum shutter speed that is synchronized with a flash to produce a fully exposed image with no clipping.


Tethered: A cable that connects a camera to a computer. Represents the shadow values on a films density/ exposure curve.

Transparencies: Also known as slide film, this colour film is the main type of film used by magazines and the printing industry.

Transparency Film: See transparencies.

Transportable Studio Flash Gear: A large set of gear/kit, containing a wide selection of high-powered flash units that needs a mains power supply. This flash gear is versatile and will need to be set up.

Tripod: A camera stand that is adjustable and has three legs.

TTL Metering: Through the lens metering is an acronym. This system is common in SLR and rangefinder cameras, whereby light passing through the objective lens is metered and given an exposure value. This reflective metering is fast and responds well to light changes.

Tungsten Light: A filament bulb made of tungsten is an incandescent light globe used for a constant light source.


Underexposure: Usually a dark image with high shadow content, where detail can be lost in the shaded areas.


View Camera: Also known as a technical camera that is a large format camera that usually has adjustable film and lens standards. The image that is viewed is normally upside-down on a ground glass panel on a film standard.

Vignetting: This is where the outside edges of the image are not as bright as the centre, usually this phenomenon is usually slight but noticeable to the eye. Lens faults, filters, too much shading from lens hoods and some wide-angle lenses may cause vignetting.

Visible Spectrum: All visible colours of white light placed into component colours.


White Balance: The white balance is able to render white without any colour shifts.

Wratten Filters: Filter of different colours and density are given unique wratten numbers. This chart was named after an English inventor of commercially available colour photographic filters.


Zoom Lens: A zoom lens has variable focal lengths over specified focal ranges of the lens.

Zoom System: An American photographer, Ansel Adams who developed a system of previsualisation, exposure and film development.

Reference was gathered from the websites as shown below,

Thank you GLOSSARY

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