Crack the Code of Photography Jargon

If you're new to photography it can feel like a whole different world. Not only is there so much to learn creatively and technically but there is also a different language to learn. With the slang, professional terms and acronyms it can be hard to make sense of things. But, don't worry, with time you'll be speaking fluent photographer but for now we've created a list of some of the most common words and their definitions to help you crack the code of photography jargon. Think of it like a photographers dictionary!

photography photographer gift shop london uk understand photography jargon terms meanings

ACR: Adobe Camera Raw is an editing plug-in software for Photoshop which contains unprocessed picture data

Al Servo: a form of focusing which tracks motion and is used for fast moving subjects or sports

Ambient / Available Light: the natural light that occurs in a room without adding to it with lights, flashes etc

Aperture: the space in which light passes through your camera, which can be made smaller or large to control the amount that reaches your cameras sensor

Aspect Ratio: the ratio of the width to the height of an image or screen

Bokeh: the out of focus areas behind a subject, which can appear as small circles when a low aperture is used

Bracketing: taking the same photo more than once using different settings for different exposures to ensure a high dynamic range (HDR*)

Bulb Mode: a mode on your camera that allows you to use a remote to keep the shutter open as long as you would like usually used for astrophotography

CMOS: the powerful image sensor used in most digital cameras

Camera Shake: unintentional blur seen in photos which is caused by slower shutter speed and the camera being moved during an exposure - this can be slight or drastic

Chimping: a usually negative term used for photographers who are constantly looking at the back of their camera to check their shots instead of trusting their knowledge (the constant looking is said to resemble a monkey)

Chromatic Aberration: also known as colour fringing this can be seen as coloured lines outlining a subject which is caused by refraction of light usually due to low quality lenses. This can be corrected in Lightroom and Photoshop

Clipped: this is when your photo has been under or overexposed beyond repair which can be monitored by your histogram*

Colour Temperature: how a light source or image appears relative to "cool" or blue light or "warm" yellow/orange light

Cropped Sensor: a sensor smaller than a 35mm frame, usually found on cheaper entry-level cameras which affects resolution

DX: the acronym for a cropped sensor - lenses can be DX specific

Diffuser: a device which spreads light to create a softer appearance and eliminating hard shadows

Depth of field: the distance between the nearest and furthest subjects in a scene that appear in focus which is controlled by aperture. IE portraits usually have a low depth of field while landscape images have a high depth of field

ETTL: used in flash photography a "pre-flash" is emitted just before you take your photo so that the camera can meter the flash and then determine how much is needed for the "real flash"

EV: standing for exposure value which is a number given to a combination of different settings that would achieve the same results

FX:
the acronym for a full frame sensor*

F Stop: the value given to an aperture opening usually ranging from F32 - F1.4

Fill Light: a soft light used to fill in shadows

Flash Sync: synchronizing the flash with the exact moment a photo is taken to gain proper exposure. 1/125 is usually the highest shutter you can use for flash photography in order to avoid a "black line"

Focal Length: the distance between the lens glass and camera sensor in mm. Large focal lengths mean your subject will appear closer and vice versa

Full Frame: a sensor the same size or slightly larger than a 35mm camera 

Gobo: standing for go between a gobo is used to block light or create shadow

Golden Hour: also known as magic hour this is the time of day during sunset which gives you soft golden light ideal for portraits

Grey Card: a grey card is used to achieve perfect white balance*

HDR: standing for high dynamic range this process is used when combining photos with different exposure values to create a realistic look. IE exposing for the sky, your subject, and the foreground and then combing all three to create one image

Hard Light: harsh or strong light which usually has sudden fall-off

Histogram: a diagram which shows you the tonal values of your image IE how bright, neutral or dark your photo is

Hot Shoe: the metal part found on the top of your camera which a flash fits into

Hyperfocal distance: the distance between a camera lens and the closest object which is in focus when the lens is focused at infinity

ISO: standing for international standards organization this means the sensitivity of your cameras sensor which can be changed usually ranging from ISO 100 - 6400

JPEG vs RAW: JPEG is the standard small file format usually used by beginners while RAW files are large files which capture a lot more information allowing for more powerful editing and a large dynamic range

Kelvin: a unit of measurement for colour temperature of light sources

LR: the acronym for Light Room, an adobe editing software

Lens Flare: a scattered light that appears in a photo caused by bright light being reflected by the lens

Lens Speed: refers to the maximum aperture diameter a lens is capable of - the lower the number the faster the lens - also known as fast glass

Long Exposure: a method in which a slow shutter speed is used to create light streaks, blur motion or in night time photography

MUP: standing for mirror up mode, this helps reduce camera shake caused by the usual movement of the mirror to take a photo 

Metering: used to determine the brightness of a scene in order to get correct exposure which is done by using a device called a light meter

ND Filter: standing for neutral density filter this is a dark filter placed over a lens so that longer shutter speeds can be used to create a desired affect without over exposing

Noise: also known as grain this is the specks found in images caused by a high ISO number

OCF: standing for off camera flash this refers to when a flash is used to light a scene not found directly on top of a camera IE a studio set up

PS: standing for Photoshop, a powerful adobe editing software

Prime Lens: a lens with a fixed focal length creating a higher quality lens

SOOC: standing for straight out of camera this simply means a photo which has not been retouched or corrected in anyway

Scrim: a translucent material used to block light in order to create a softer appearance

Shutter Speed: how long your camera takes to create an exposure determined by a nominal value

Soft Light: light that gives a diffused appearance with no hard shadows

Stop Down: increasing your f-stop to allow less light into your camera

TTL: standing for through the lens metering this is when the camera meters a scene for you to create a properly exposed image

Tilt Shift: tilting or moving a lens to create a blurred affect or to straighten parallel lines usually used by architecture photographers through a special lens

White Balance: the process of removing colour casts to create a perfect white in an image or correcting a colour temperature

Wide Open: refers to using the lowest f-stop number on your lens

There you have it, our list of most common photography terms. Do you have anything to add? Let us know on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest! Happy Shooting xx


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