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Glossary of photography terminology

Glossary of photography terminology

A shallow depth of field puts only the subject in focus, while the background is out of focus.  Photo credit: Craig Saunders. Camera  Canon EOS 700D | Sigma DG 150-500 mm 1:5-6.3 APO HSM lens | Aperture f/6.3 | Shutter speed 1/640 | ISO 500

Now that you have your basic equipment, let’s look at some of the more common photography terminology we’ll be using in our blogs. Photography being a combination of technology and art, an understanding of the mechanics and settings of a camera will enable you to put your camera to good use to best capture wonderful images of your stay at Camp Jabulani.

Aperture – the variable opening through which light enters the camera. Aperture is measured in f-stops.

Depth of field – a measure of how much of a scene (from the front to the back of the image) will be in focus. Greater depth of field means that all or most of the picture is in focus (mostly required for a landscape photograph), while a shallow depth of field means that a subject is in focus, but objects in front and behind appear out of focus. The latter may be preferred for a portrait or an animal photo.

DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) – the digital equivalent of a SLR camera (see below), meaning is doesn’t require film.

Exposure – exposure is the amount of light per unit area reaching a photographic film or electronic image sensor. Exposure determines how light or dark an image will appear when it has been captured by your camera and is determined by three camera settings: aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – a digital image file format of which the size has been compressed. It can be used straight out of the camera and is adequate for small- and medium-sized printing, but is not suitable for large, high-quality prints or pictures. This format offers less post-processing opportunity than RAW.

F-stop – regulates how much light is allowed through the lens by varying the size of the hole the light comes through. A lower f-number (f2 or f2.8) denotes a greater aperture opening which allows more light in, while a larger number (f32) denotes a smaller aperture, which allows less light in.

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A higher ISO value was used here to capture this cub as the light was fading at dusk when this photograph as taken. Photo credit: Craig Saunders. Camera  Canon EOS 700D | Sigma DG 150-500 mm 1:5-6.3 APO HSM lens | Aperture f/6.3 | Shutter speed 1/200 | ISO 6400

ISO – refers to how sensitive the image sensor is to light. By making the sensor more sensitive to light, photos can be shot with higher shutter speeds and/or in lower light. Higher ISO values mean you can take photos in lower light, but also increases the noise or digital grain factor.

Lenses – will be discussed in subsequent blogs. We’ll look at standard and standard zoom lenses (usually sold with SLR cameras); telephoto lenses that magnify the subject and wide angle lenses that include more subject area than a normal lens or even the human eye.

Noise – the digital equivalent of film grain.

Panning – following a subject with your camera so that the subject remains in focus while the background is blurred to indicate motion.

Pixel – the smallest unit in a digital image and refers to a small square of coloured light.

Polarising filter – used to cut out light from a particular direction such as reflections from water, absorb glare and for darkening blue skies.

RAW – a digital image file format that contains the most information possible from a camera’s sensor, but the data is unprocessed, hence the term RAW. It is suitable for creating large fine-art prints as errors made at the time of shooting can be rectified in this format.

Shutter speed – also known as exposure time, is the length of time the film or digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light.

SLR (Single-lens reflex) – a design of camera that has only one lens for both viewing and taking photos. The view through the viewfinder is therefore the exact same image that will be recorded by the camera.

White balance – a camera setting that adjusts lighting to make white objects appear white in photos. It entails adjusting colours so that the image looks more natural.

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The young are always at risk in the wild, hence dad’s presence. A greater depth of field allows both the cubs and dad to be in focus. Photo credit: Craig Saunders. Camera  Canon EOS 700D | Sigma DG 150-500 mm 1:5-6.3 APO HSM lens | Aperture f/5.6 | Shutter speed 1/125 | ISO 100

2 Comments
  • Jeff Rodgers
    Posted at 20:54h, 26 October Reply

    A refresher of the basics is always a good thing. Thanks for this.

    • Camp Jabulani
      Posted at 12:05h, 28 October Reply

      It’s a pleasure.

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