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Ryan Shawgo

Ever have a conversation with someone who is into photography and they start talking terms that leave you hanging out in left field? Below is a list of many of the you might hear and possibly links to more information.
Last Updated: Sunday June 13, 2021

Advanced Photo System (APS):
Kodak's attempt to make photography easier for the casual user. The film is refered to as IX240 and is only 24 mm wide compared with the 36mm width of 35mm film. This will cause grain to be more noticable in the APS due to a higher magnification to acheive the same size prints although Kodak claims that grain has been reduced due to improvements in the emulaion used for the new APS films. Most APS cameras are of the Point and Shoot category with very few SLR models available.

Opening through which light passes through the lens en route to the film. The use of overlapping blades controls the diameter of the opening, similar to the iris of the eye. Depth of Field is controlled by the aperture. The wider the opening (lower number), the less depth of Field that is observed. The smaller the opening (higher number), the greater the depth of field. A pinhole camera has an enormous DOF because of the extremely small aperture, on the order of 150 or greater. Changing the aperture by one value on the following scale, is considered a 1 stop change: 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, 45, 64, 90, 128.... Any value between these values is considered a partial stop change. A change from any value to the value immediately next to it changes the amount of light reaching the film by a factor of two. The numbers on the aperature ring corespong to a ratio between the focal length of a lens and the diameter of the aperature opening. A setting of f:8 means that the opening in the blades is 1/8th the focal length, f:5.6 is 1.5.6tt the focal length and so on.
See Also: Shutter Speed, Depth of Field, Pinhole Photography

Aperture Priority:
Under many shooting circumstances the use of a specific aperture may be required. By using the aperture priority setting on a camera, the aperture remains fixed, and the camera picks the corresponding shutter speed based on internal light meter readings.
See Also: Shutter Priority, Light Meter

Ball Head:
With out a ball head on a tripod or monopod, the camera must be mounted directly to the top of the 'pod and can only shoot in one position. The addition of a ball head allows the camera to be positioned in almost any direction with the aid of only one tightening nut. The disadvantage of a ball head is that it is much harder to control fine positioning as all directions at once must be controlled.
See Also: Pan Head, Tripod, Monopod

Barn Doors:
Studio lighting is often modified to prevent light from reaching parts of the scene. In order to do this, something must be positon to shadow that region. Barn doors have 4 to 6 doors which can be opened and closed to allow/disallow light to reach a particular region. Often they are used to direct light towards the backdrop, or the opposite, to prevent light from falling on the backdrop.

A flexible piece of material that is placed between the lens and the camera body, usually mounted on rails. The rails allow the bellows to be adjusted to change the distance between the lens and the body. This can be used to enable macro photography and close focusing. The flexible bellows also allow larger format cameras to tilt the lens with respect to the film plane to alter the perspective.
See Also: Macro Photography, Large Format

Bracketing :
Camera meters cannot always meter a scene correctly because they must meter over a great deal of the frame. If you are unsure of the camera settings and want to make sure one of the shots is acceptable the best way to ensure that the shot comes out is to bracket. Bracketing involves shooting one exposure at the metered value, then shoot the next exposure at one or two stops below the metered value and also above the metered value. By using this technique more film is used, but there is a greater chance that a shot will come out properly exposed.
See Also: Spot Metering. Zone Syststem

Broad Lighting :
Conventional portraiture often positions the model in a pose such that their bodies are not facing the camera directly, but are turned to one side or the other. If the main light is positioned such that the illuminated portion of the face is framed in the image rather than the shadowed portion as in Short Lighting.
See Also: Short Lighting

Bulb Setting:
Most cameras have a slowest exposure setting of 1 seconds, some modern electronic cameras can stay open for 30 seconds. Sometimes that is not long enough for time laps photography. The B setting on the dial stands for bulb. In bulb mode the camera stays open as long as the shutter release is held down. This is useful when taking photos at night sFcenes, lightning, comets and other astronomical events, and many other uses. The bulb setting also allows you to darken a room, open the shutter, then set off flashes as necessary to properly expose a frame or show a stroboscopic effect.

One thing to keep in mind is that on long exposures is that even slight movements will be noticed, especially if the subject is bright compared to the rest of the scent. The bulb setting should ONLY be used on a tripod. Two methods for limiting camera shake are the Mirror Lock Up feature, or MLU, and the Cable Release.

Cable Release:
Longer exposures allow camera shake to be noticed where it would not be at faster shutter speeds. In order to avoid this problem the camera is often placed on a tripod and a cable release is used to trip the shutter. A cable release has a threaded end that is screwed into the shutter release. This is making the assumption that the shutter release button is designed to accept a cable release. If the camera is not designed for a cable release, there is probably a different method, usually a remote control, either wired or IR, that is used for manual release.

Chromogenic Film
These include Black & White films which are designed to processed in C-41 (color) chemistry. Example: Kodak CN400, Ilford XP-2.

Color Temperature:
Film is often refered to by the color balance for which it is designed. As a general rule, the higher the number, the greater the blue hues; the smaller the number, the greater red hues. Fluorsecent lighting fills a range from 3500 K to 6200 K depending on its use. Flash tubes are often daylight balanced.
  • 5500 K: Daylight balanced
  • 3800 K: Tungsten balanced

Compensating Development:
Under some circumstances there may be a need to shoot film at an Exposure Index other than the ASA rating on the film. This technique is known as push or pull processing. Color Print films are not advisable to alter EI ratings but it can be done. Slide film and black and white can be pushed and pulled with fairly good results.
  • Push processing involves rating the film at faster than recommended and then increasing development time because less light has exposed the film. This will increase the contrast in the final image.
  • Pull processing the film is exposed at a slower setting and development time is decreased. Images produced from pull processing should have an increased toneal range.
See Also: Exposure Index

Contact print:
Also known as proofs, contact prints involve placing the negative directly on to the photographic paper and printing this way. The print is then an exact copy of the negative, except now it is a positive that can be used for quick viewing.

Many medium and large format cameras allow for the "backs" to be switched midroll to allow for varying films to be used. In order to change backs a dark slide is placed between the film and the outside world preventing fogging of the film.

Daylight Balance:
Most film available on the market today is Daylight Balanced. Unless the film specifically states that it is balanced for other lighting conditions, it will probably be designed for daylight. This film will produce natural colors when exposed under natural (outdoors) conditions or under normal flash. When shot under tungsten lighting (incandescent light bulbs) there will be a reddish yellow tint to the photo and when shot under fluorescent lighting there will be a green hue.
See Also: Tungsten Balanced, Filters

The ability of a negative to allow light to transmit through it is a function of the density of the negative. This is based on the density of silver oxide in the negative causing light to not be able to transmit through a negative. A very dense negative will be very light and lacking detail when printed.

Depth Of Field (DOF):
Aperture is the controlling factor in the Depth of Field of a shot. This refers to the area, or depth, of the photograph that is in focus. The higher the depth of field the more of the photograph from the foreground to the background that is in the highest focus. The greatest depth of field occurs at the hyperfocal point.
See Also: Aperture, Hyperfocal Distance

Depth Of Field Preview:
Some cameras contain a button or lever that, when depressed, will "stop down" a lens to the aperture set to allow the user to see the depth of field that will be seen in the photo at that aperture setting. Most focusing is done with the lens open, or at the lowest aperture setting possible. Focusing is done easier at this stage. Many of the automatic SLR cameras today do not have the DOF preview feature while many of the older manual cameras do have it.

Dye Transfer:
This process is also known as Polaroid transfer. During the development stage of the Polaroid image the layers of the image are pulled apart to allow the colors from the chemicals to be applied to a foreign substance such as silk, wood, or other fabrics.

Exposure Index (EI):
When film is shot at something other than its rated speed setting, or ASA, The speed setting at which it is exposed is referred as the Exposure Index. For example, if Kodak Tmax 100 (TMX) Black and White film is exposed at 50, the exposure index for the film would be referred to as EI 50.
See Also: Compensating Development

Exposure Lock:
There are times when the main subject of a frame is not in the center of the frame where metering is taken from. In order to properly expose the main subject meter on the subject, then hold the exposure lock option, then recompose the image to framing that is more suitable to the photographer. Often the exposure lock on modern cameras is to hold the shutter release button half way down after metering the scene, then recompose.

Extension Tubes:
One of the necessary steps for Macro Photography is to move the lens away from the focal plane to allow closer focusing. Extension tubes are used for this purpose. They are similar to bellows except they are not flexible and distance is often not adjustable.
See Also: Bellows, Macro Photography

One F-stop, or stop for short, is equal to changing the amount of light that reaches the film by a factor of two. When changing the aperture from a 2 to a 2.8 the amount of light that reaches the film is 1/2 of the original. In comparison changing from a 2 to a 1.4 doubles the amount of light. Stops are also equivalent to shutter speed settings. 1/60th seconds allows half the amount of light to reach the film as 1/125thseconds. Because stops are equivalent whether it is shutter speed or aperture, it is possible to properly expose a frame with many settings. 1/125thseconds at f 2.8 is the same as 1/250thseconds at f 2.0. This factor can be useful if one is trying to intentionally blur a shot such as flowing water, or increase or decrease depth of field for a given subject.

The film is the light sensitive medium on which the photograph is recorded. There are 2 main types of film, Print film and Slide film.
  • Print Film: Film which records the image in a negative format. The negative is then used to render a print, which displays the positive image. Print film has a very wide latitude because during the printing process the color can be adjusted as necessary to produce a pleasing print. Print films often have a latitude of +/- 2 or 3 stops. Print films are also available in Daylight Balanced and Tungsten Balanced
  • Slide Film: Slide film, also known as Chrome Film, records the image as a positive. Reversal paper is used to make a print from this medium, and is more expensive. Slide film has a very narrow range of proper exposure, usually +/- .5 stops.

Anything that is placed over the front element of the lens to alter the final image is a filter. Filters range from circular polarizers, warming filter, star filters, soft focus filters, and many colored filters to change the over all color of a photograph.
Filters often used in Black and White Photography and what types of effects you may see:
  • Red Darkens blue skies and will improve contrast between clouds and sky. Not favorable when photographing people becaue the red in the lips becomes very pale. Also necessary when shooting Infrarad film. Red filters cause blue/green/yellow to be darkened
  • Yellow Will also improve contrast between clouds and sky but to a lesser extent. Yellow is also used to produce pleasant skin tones. Yellow causes purple/blue/red to be darkened.
  • Green The most common use of a green filter is to produce a fair complexion in caucasion models. Will also renders red/orange/purple to be darker.
  • Orange Not used very often but can be used to darken skies to produce stronger contrast between clouds and sky. Renders green/blue/purple darker than natural.
  • Blue Blue is also not used to a great extent. A blue filter would darken reds/oranges/yellows.

Flash Bracket:
When working with a flash in a situation where the final product is desired to be of better quality than a snapshot and a flash is needed, a flash bracket is a necessity. A flash bracket will allow the flash to be positioned directly above the camera to help to eliminate the harsh shadows that are often seen in simple snap shots. It can also be used to eliminate Red Eye.
See Also: PC Cord
Flash Head:
Professional studio lights often utilize a centralized power pack to provide power to multiple flash heads. These flash heads simply contain modeling lights, flash bulbs, and hardware to allow connections for light modifiers such as Grids/Gobos, umbrellas, soft boxes, or barn doors.

Flash Sync:
The maximum shutter speed which the flash can fire and properly expose the full frame. Cameras which use a leaf shutter, such as a many twin lens reflex cameras (TLR) and many medium format cameras where the shutter is contained within the lens, not the camera body, can sync at any speed due to the way the shutter opens and closes. Cameras with a vertical or horizontal focal plane shutter, as in most 35mm cameras where the shutter is a curtain which travels immediately in front of the film, have a maximum speed at which the flash can fire. When a camera utilizing a focal plane shutter is fired, the first curtain is released to travel across the film plane, then the second (or rear) curtain will close behind the first curtain. Depending on the shutter speed chosen, this defines the gap between the two curtains. In order for the flash to properly expose the film, the separation must be great enough for the film to be fully exposed to the full duration of the flash. If the shutter speed is too fast, then the rear curtain will beginning to close before the flash is firing, causing either the left (for horizontal curtain) or top (for vertical curtain) to be underexposed. Some of the current professional level cameras have very fast shutter of upwards of 1/8000 shutter speed. Most 35mm cameras can sync between 1/60th and 1/250th of a second. To determine what speed your camera syncs at either read the manual, or look at the dial on the camera and look for the shutter speed setting with the lightning bolt, or x beside the number. If the camera has a pop up flash, such as a Canon EOS 2000, another way to determine the max speed is to engage the flash, the increase the shutter speed until the onboard computers force it to stop. Most will not let the camera be set faster than the flash sync speed.

Focal Plane Shutter
There are two options of shutter systems available, one is the Leaf Shutter, the other is focal plane. Focal plane shutters rely on either a horizontal or vertical shutter curtain which lies directly in front of the film, at the plane of focus. Focal Plane Shutters are capable of very high speeds, in excess of 1/8000th of a second. The disadvantage is much slower Flash synch speeds.

When a photographer talks about fine grained films, they are talking about the smallest distinguishable component of a print. The slower the ASA rating, the finer the grain, and the converse is also true.

To make a strobe light to appear directional, like the light of the sun, a grid is used. It is basically a black honeycomb pattern that is placed in front of the flash head to cause a directional effect and minimize spillage of light causing a diffusion effect. Also called a Gobo or a Cookie.

Guide Number:
Most flashguns for a camera list a rating refered to as a Guide Number, or GN. This number is used for manual settings to determine the proper aperature based on the distance from the subject. Guide numbers are also rated assuming ISO 100 speed film. If your flash has a guide number of 120 and the subject is 12 feet away, chose the aperature closes to 10 (120/12=10), which would be f/11. If the subject was 20 ft away, the result would be close to 6 (120/20=6), or f/5.6. This is all under the assumption that 100 speed film is being used. If 400 speed film was being used, which is 2 stops faster film, meaning it requires less light to expose the film, the aperature would be stopped down 2 stops, from f/5.6 to f/11. Instead of 400, if 200 was being used, then the subject do camera distance would require f/8.

HMI Lighting:
Halide Metal Iodine lighting uses special bulbs and power supplies to produce flicker free lighting. This is useful when using slow digial scanning backs for Large Format cameras. These scanning backs would take a few seconds for exposure, during that time period the lights must remain flicker free to produce even illumination and constant exposure through out the scan. Hot lights could not provide such a task.

Unlike a strobe which provides a quick burst of light, a hotlight is constantly on and does not strobe. Because these lights are always on, metering becomes much easier and a flash meter is not necessary. The disadvantage of hot lights is just as they sound, they produce a lot of heat because of the intensity of the light.

Hot Shoe:
There are two methods of firing a flash, PC cord or hotshoe. The hotshoe use, flash has a foot that connects to socket on top of the camera which contains the contacts needed to fire the flash. Hotshoe flashes can be used on a flash bracket with the aid of a off camera cord which simply acts as an extensions of the camera's hotshoe.
See Also: PC Cord

Hyperfocal Distance:
The point at which the maximum depth of field exists. At any given aperature, the depth of field extends twice as far behind the point of focus as in front of this same point. In order to have the greatest possible sharpness through out as much of the scene as possible, focusing at the hyperfocal point is necessary. To do this, the lens must have a focusing window which contains info on the distance which the lens is focused, as well as aperature settings. If the object you are focusing on is at infinity, simply note which aperature is being used, lets assume f/22. Simply focus on the object, then rotate the focusing ring such that the infinity now lies at the f/22 mark on the focusing window. If however, you were focusing on a tree which was 50' away (by reading the focusing window, again, simply rotate the focusing ring such that 50 is now located over f/22, assuming the use of f/22.

Infared Film:
There are three black and white infrared films on the market today. Kodak's High Speed Infrared Film (HIE) has the highest IR sensitivity of the three films but sacrifices Grain size as the grain is very large. Konica Infrared film has a lesser sensitivity to IR wavelengths but has much finer grain than Kodak's. The last B&W IR film is Ilford SFX which is an ASA 200 film. The film is marketed as an extended red film, not a true IR film. The film is sensitive to only a slightly extended IR range.

When shooting IR films a red filter such as a #25 is placed on the lens to cut down on the blue wavelengths that IR film is also sensitive to. Infrared films provide different results than conventional black an white films mainly in the representation of foliage. Any plant that has chlorophyll will fluoresce in the IR when in direct sunlight. The intensity of the IR light reflected bye the plants is actually quite high so the leaves of a plant appear white or very near white while the sky appears very dark because the filter does not allow the blue wavelengths to reach the film. Human skin also appears to be much whiter on IR than normal film.

Large Format:
There are four main film classifications today: APS Standard Format (35mm), Medium Format, and Large Format. Large Format basically refers to any film that is larger than 120 (MF). 4x5. 6x7, and 8x10 are the common large format films today. The advantage LF has over the other films is the possibility of extreme enlargements with very little loss in quality. Contact Prints Can be made from LF negatives with out the need for a large format enlarger. Grain is non existent on large format negatives as well.

There are a few films on the market today who are claiming a very wide latitude of exposure with little loss of quality. What these film companies are bragging about is the ability to have an Exposure Index of anything from 100 to 1000 on the same roll of film depending on the lighting situation for each individual frame. Films such as Gold Max from Kodak are becoming popular among those who want a general purpose film without having to worry about what their lighting changes will be. The sacrifice is slight color differences between reality and the final print and grain size.

Leaf Shutter
Lenses are available which haved the shutter mechanism internal are refered to as Leaf Shutter lenses. The advantage of a leaf shutter over a Focal Plane Shutter is that a leaf shutter can Synch to flash lighting at any shutter speed. One disadvantage to the leaf shutter system is the maximum shutter speed is usually limited to 1/500th to 1/1000th of a second.

  • Normal Lens: Any lens that produces an image in the view finder that is the same as what the eye sees is known as an a normal lens.
  • Prime Lens: A fixed lens, 80mm, 105mm, or 200mm lens for example, are considered prime lenses. Primes are often considered faster than zoom lenses because there are fewer elements inside thus a wider aperture is possible. Prime lenses often produce a higher quality image than a zoom as well.
  • Wide Angle Lens: Any lens that includes more in the viewfinder than a normal lens is wide angle. Wide angle lenses often have a very high depth of field and can yield very interesting perspective shots.
  • Zoom Lens: These lenses are becoming very popular with the average person with a camera because rather than needing to carry 3 or 4 lenses which all carry a high price tag a user can have only one lens and one price tag. Of course, with the lower cost comes slightly lower quality and often times are slower lenses than the equivalent prime lens.

Light Meter:
Virtually all cameras on the market today have a built in light meter. This meter is used to gauge the amount of light present to determine the proper aperture and shutter speed for a given frame. Hand held meters are also available to use in addition to the camera's meter. The hand held meters offer more features and greater accuracy. Meters that gather light reflected by the subject like the on camera meters or Spot Meter are known as reflected meters. Incident meters are placed at the location of the subject and measure the amount of light falling on the object.
See Also: Spot Meter

Lighting Ratio:
Studio Strobes or flashes are often placed to one side of the subject to prevent flat even lighting. The Lighting Ratio is the ratio of the light from one side of the subject to the other. Light fall off and shadows cause one side to be illuminated more than another. A pleasant lighting ratio will have the darker side about 1 to 1.5 stops darker than the bright side.

These films are sensitive primarily to blue wave lengths and can safely be handled in red or amber safe lights. Use is primarily in the graphic arts field because of its very high contrast.

Macro Photography:
Close-up photography is referred to as macro Photography. Photographing anything very close so that it will reproduce on the negative from 1/3 size to 8x the original size.

Matrix Metering:
Some of the more advanced SLR cameras rely on a metering system known as Matrix Metering. The camera divides the viewfinder into a grid and meters separately for each square created by the grid. The readings for each square is then compared against a set of preset values to determine the proper aperture and shutter speed settings.

Medium Format:
Similar to large format, Medium format offers a great improvement in image quality over 35mm. Common MF negative sizes include 6x4.5cm, 6x6cm and 6x7cm. MF film is often referred to 120 (12 exposure) and 220 (24 exposure).

Mirror Lockup (MLU):
Photographs involving long exposures often require the camera to be as steady as possible to get a reasonable sharp image. The Mirror Lock Up function flips the mirror to the up position and holds it there while the shutter release is depressed. When using long lenses at slow speeds, the shake caused by the quick motion of the mirror can cause noticeable camera shake. Use of MLU can lessen effects of camera shake, but not completely stop them.

Modeling Light:
Flash heads/Monolights usually incorperate a modeling light into the unit. This light remains on almost constantly and is proportional to the light which will be produced by the flash tube. This allows the photographer to visualize exactally the lighting ratios, shadows, and other lighting effects before the photograph is exposed.

Any flash unit that is self contained, that is the flash head and power supply and all necessary hardware to make the flash work is in the flash head, is referred to as a monolight. Monolights can be used as a standard bulb or with softboxes or umbrellas to diffuse the light.

A single pole atop which a head or camera is mounted is a monopod. Monopods are lighter to carry and smaller than most tripods but to not have the same qualities as a tripod because the camera is still hand held. Monopods are best used in low light situations where hand holding would not be steady enough but a tripod is unavailable. Monopods are also useful with long lenses to minimize the magnified effects of camera shake.

Multiple Exposure:
As the term implies, multiple exposures involves exposing the same frame of film more than one time. Special effects shots can sometimes only be performed with the aid of multiple exposures. An example is shooting the moon with a long telephoto lens, then switching to a shorter lens to shoot a landscape. This way the moon will appear much larger on the horizon than it would normally.
See Also Reciprosity Failure

Orthochromatic Films
Orthochromatic Films - Films that can be handled under a red safelight. Used primarily in print shops. Example: Kodalith

Panchromatic Films
Films which must be handled to total darkness until completely processed. Example: Kodak T-Max, Tri-x, Plus-X, Ilford Delta, Agfa APX.

Pan Head:
Without the aid of a Ball Head or pan head, a camera mounted on a tripod or monopod can only be used in horizontal format. The addition of a pan head allows the camera to be rotated around 3 separate axes independant of each other allowing fine control of camera placement.

Parallax Distortion:
Twin Lens Reflex camera use two lenses, one for taking the photograph, the other for focusing and viewing. At very close distances, the images viewed through the viewing lens will be different than what the film sees through the taking lens. Beyond a few feet, the angles caused by the separation of the lenses is minimal and will not be seen.
See Also: Twin Lens Reflex

PC Cord:
Before the days of hotshoe flash connectors and TTL flashes, the method of connecting the flash to the camera body was by PC cord. This cord if fairly thin and can be easily broken but can fire a flash from a great distance if necessary.

Pinhole Photography:
For thousands of years the understanding that if light is projected through a small hole, any image between the light source and the hole will be projected through the hole onto a surface on the other side. This effect can be seen when walking through the forest on a sunny day and looking at the ground where images are being projected from holes in the leaves.

Pinhole photography involves making a pinhole in the end of a box, tube, or any other object that can be made light proof and then placing film or paper in the other end to expose by the light entering. Caps are also available for cameras as well that have very precise holes cut in them at proper focal distances. Pinhole camera's have an enormous depth of field due to the very small aperture, enough that some consider photographs to be 3 dimensional because nearly everything in the photograph is in focus.

Point and Shoot Camera:
A camera with no interchangeable lenses. The lens is perminately fixed to the camera body. P&S cameras come with either zoom lenses, usually ranging from wide angles of ~30mm to zoom ranges of upwards of ~200mm in the more expensive ranges. Typical P&S camera are 38mm-70mm or 38mm-120mm. These cameras are usually very simple to use and require little photographic knowledge.


Quartz Date:
Some cameras, mostly Point and Shoot cameras, allow the user to imprint a date on each photo in one of the corners. This allows people to go back later and know exactally when each photo was taken. The date is recorded on the negative at the time of exposure and are on the negative. This feature can usually be turned off and on depending on what the user desires. Some also allow pre-selected messages to be placed on a photo as well, such as Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday.

Range Finder:
Some cameras allow the user to look directly through the lens of the camera to see the image being photographed. Other cameras have a window with a small lens through which the users views the scene. These cameras are known as Range Finder cameras. They differ from SLR's because they do not display an image based on what the photographing lens is viewing.

Reciprosity Failure:
As film is exposed to light, it becomes less and less sensitive. The longer it is exposed, the less sensitive it become. On longer exposures, where the meter says 10 seconds, depending on the film it may take up to 1 min to expose the film properly due to reciprocity failure of the film.

Red Eye:
When the pupils of the eyes are dialated, the light entering the eyes can reflect off the back of the eye, causing the redness seen in many pictures. This problem is almost always caused on cameras where the flash and lens are very close together, such as point and shoot cameras. There are a few methods of alleviating this problem. Many cameras now incorperate Red Eye Reduction methods which involve multiple strobes of the flash before the photo is taken. The multiple strobes cause the pupils to close, minimizing the ability of the light to reflect back to the camera from the rear of the eye. Another technique requires a Flash Bracket which moves the flash to a greater distance from the lens plane, changing the angle of incidence. Because the light is not coming from a source near the lens, light is not reflected back to the lens from the back of the eyes.

Light does not always fall exactly where you want it. For this reason reflectors are used. Reflectors are placed facing the light, reflecting the light to an area of the scene that is a little dark and needs illumination. Gold reflectors can be use to warm a scene because of the color changed caused by the gold reflector. Silver and white reflectors provide nearly the same color hue as daylight, with White more subtily filling shadows and the silver providing more "punch" and contrast. Other colored objects can be used to reflect colors differently. A slightly different approach is the use of a black reflector. Rather than reflecting light to a specific spot, it absorbs nearly all light causing that side of the scene to be darker than usual.

Reversal Rings:
These rings allow you to use the filter mounts on the front of a lens to attach a lens backwards to a camera body. The method allows for extreme macro photography with out purchasing expensive equipment. The disadvantage is that there is a very limited DOF and loss of between 3 and 4 stops.

Short Lighting:
Portraits are often done with the model not facing directly towards the camera but turned slightly away. If the lighting is such that the majority of the subjects face is shadowed, this is refered to as short lighting.
See Also: Broad Lighting

Shutter Priority:
There are times when a specific shutter speed is desired regardless of the aperture needed. Shutter priority allows the user to set a shutter speed and then the camera will chose the proper aperture setting based on in camera metering.
See Also: Aperture Priority

Shutter Speed:
The length of time in which the film is exposed to light is known as the shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds allow for crisper pictures because camera shake and subject movements will be minimized. Slower shutter speeds can be used to create blurring effects or may be needed to properly expose darker subjects.

Single Lens Reflex (SLR):
The most common type of non point and shoot cameras on the market today are probably known as Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Cameras. These cameras allow the user to view the subject being photographed through the same lens that the film will "see". This allows the user to avoid the parallax effect observed with Twin Lens Reflex camera as well as see in the view finder exactly what the photo will look like.

There are times when multiple flash units will be used to light a set or scene. It would become a complex array of PC Cords if slaves were not available. Slaves come in 3 flavors, those triggered by visible light, those triggered by infrared light, and radio slaves. All three serve the same purpose: to fire a remote flash unit with out wiring. Light operated slaves are triggered when light of a specific wavelength falls upon a photocell in the front of the slave unit, causing the flash to fire. Radio slaves rely on radio signals between a transmitter and receiver to tell the remote flash unit when to fire. The advantage of the radio slave is that it is not line of site, flash units hidden behind objects can be fired with radio where optical methods would not work. Radio slaves also cannot be triggered by other flash units, such as guests at a wedding taking snapshots.

A soft box makes the light more diffuse; a snoot causes it to be more directional. There are times when a photographer desires the photo to appear as if the light was coming from a specific point or to only illuminate a specific portion of the scene. A snoot is added to the front of the flash head to direct the light to the area desired.

Over cast days produce very soft lighting with little contrast compared with a bright sunlit day which will produce harsh shadows and strong highlights. The use of a softbox is to soften to light, make it less harsh. Softer lighting produced much more pleasing photos when shooting portraits and product shots where harsh shadows or highlights are not desired.
See Also: Umbrellas

Soft Focus:
Filter used often by glamour photographers and occasionally by other photographers to cause a slight bluring of the highlights into the shadows which produces a photograph with softened edges. Filters are available for this technique but be warned, these filters can be over used and can detract from the images.

Spot Metering:
Some scenes involve difficult lighting situations where a matrix metering or center weighted metering system of a standard camera would incorrectly meter. Spot metering allows a user to pick a specific point in the scene and meter it only. This allows a user to expose for a specific point in the scene.

Standard Format:
35 mm cameras are often referred to as Standard Format because the film and cameras are readily available to almost anyone in almost any price range. Negative size is 24mm x 36mm.

Unlike a monolight, a strobe requires a separate battery or power unit to supply the head with power. Strobe heads are smaller and lighter than monolight heads and can be used in the same fashion as monolights.

In order to create the sharpest photos available some sort of support device is needed to steady the camera. One method is a tripod. Tripods vary from simple one way swivel heads available at any local discount store to monstrous units that could support small houses and are available for about the same price as said house. A tripod consists of a set of legs and a head of some sort, either a Pan Head or a Ball Head. Legs and heads can usually be mixed and matched to get the combination that suits you the best. Tripod legs are available in materials ranging to rugged and heavy steal to lightweight ridged carbon fiber.
See Also: Monopod

Through The Lens (TTL):
Metering system on many electronic camera systems which allows for the camera and a dedicated flash unit to determine proper exposure based on aperture, shutter speed and flash power. Another option is the Evaluative Through The Lens (ETTL) metering which involves use of 3D matrix Metering and a series of per-flashes to determine the proper exposure.

Tungsten Balanced Film:
When and if you ever need to photograph a scene illuminated by incandescent light bulbs, or tungsten lightiging, the use of Tungsten Balanced film is needed because of the color temperature of the lights. Tungsten lighting has a reddish yellow tint to it so all photos shot under tungsten lighting will be red or orange. The Tungsten Balanced Film will compensat for the red/yellow shift of tungsten lighting will appear more normal.

Twin Lens Reflex (TLR):
There are a few Medium Format cameras which have two separate lenses on the camera, one above the other. These camers are known as Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras. These cameras use the upper lens for viewing and the lower lens for exposing the film. The light is refracted through a prism and focusing screen to allow the user to observe the image. One problem with TLR camera is known as the parallax effect. When photographing objects close to the camera the object that the viewer sees will not be exactly the same as the image the fill will see.

Another source of diffusing the light from a flash unit is an umbrella. The use is similar to that of a Softbox except that the diffusion ability is slightly lesser.
See Also: Softbox

View Camera:
Most Large Format cameras are view cameras. Rather than having a prism reflect light from the lens to an eye piece, or be operated like a Rangefinger camera, a view camera projects the image directly from the lens onto a ground glass focusing screen. Once the image is properly focused and composed the film holder is slid into the camera in front of the focusing screen. and the film is then exposed. The lens is then closed, black cover is slid away from in front of the film, the shutter release is tripped and the film is exposed. The black cover is the placed back in front of the film and the film holder is removed. Each negative must be individually loaded in a view camera.
See Also: Large Format

Zone System:
To some people the Zone System is the only method that one should use to meter a scene. The zone system involves the creation of 11 zones numbered 0 - 10 where 0 is the blackest black and 10 is the whitest white. A zone 5 is what a grey card should render, or 50% white and 50% grey, and which reflects 18% of the light falling on the object. By using a gradient scale between 0 and 10, each zone change being equivalent to one f-stop, a photographer should be able to meter the scene to be properly exposed for any portion of the scene by realizing that a camera meter will meter any scene to be a zone 5. Example: Human Caucasian skin is approximately a zone 6. If a light meter metering the skin indicates that the proper shutter speed is 1/125 at f:4 then to properly expose the skin one would need to overexpose by on stop, shoot at 1/60 at f:4 and the skin should be exposed at the proper tone. If one were to shoot at the indicated settings the metered object should render a zone 5, or mid grey, when printed.

Did I miss anything or screw one of these definitions up completely. Let me know your comments and differences in what I have created here thus far. Email me at with your comments and suggestions.

Ryan Shawgo

© 2004 Ryan Shawgo.
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