heather schramm-lifestyle photographer

Tips and Insights

Photography Vocabulary

Starting out in photography can be challenging enough.  There are times when it seems as though we’re speaking our own language.  It’s what makes us feel special.  Below is a list of some of our verbage decoded.  Use it as often as possible to feel like one of the cool kids.

This list should be a pretty good starting point to hopefully move you along to getting out there and getting some photographs instead of scratching your head wondering if you should have shot racked out with the aperture wide open.

  • Aperture–  The lens opening.  The opening in a camera lens through which light passes to expose the film or sensor.  Aperture size is usually calibrated in f-numbers such as f-1.4 or f-16.  The larger the number, the smaller the lens opening.  We’ll get more in-depth on that subject another time.
  • Exposure–  The amount of light reaching the film or sensor.  Exposure is controlled by aperture size and shutter speed.  Example : An overexposed photo would be too light, while an underexposed photo would appear too dark.
  • Shutter Speed–  The amount of time the camera keeps the shutter open to capture the image.  A fast shutter speed such as 1/640 will help you freeze any movement while a slow shutter speed such as 1/4 will more than likely blur an object in motion which is sometimes desired.
  • ISO–  International Standards Organization.  That doesn’t really help with explaining what it is now does it?  Essentially it measures the sensitivity of the image sensor.  The lower the number (ex. 100 ISO) the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain.  The higher the number (ex. 3200 ISO) the more sensitive your camera is to light and the coarser the grain.  Typically speaking you would not want a grainy photo so the only time you would raise your ISO high would be in a dimmer setting when you’re not shooting with a tripod.
  • Bracketing–  To take a series of photos at different exposures.
  • HDR–  High Dynamic Range.  This is when you combine multiple photos of different exposures to form an image which shows very bright and very dark areas properly exposed in one image.  This is currently a popular technique that you probably see often.
  • Fill-Flash–  This is when you use existing available light (also called ambient light) in combination with your flash to give a pleasing mix of the two.
  • Dodging–  Selectively lightening part of your photo.
  • Burning–  Selectively darkening part of your photo.
  • Panning–  Moving the camera along with the moving object so that the object remains in the same relative position in the viewfinder as you take a picture.  What this does is blur out what is not moving while keeping your moving object tack sharp.  This is a wonderful technique to show action and makes the photo really come alive.  It pays of to use burst mode if you can when applying this technique.  If nothing else it will make onlookers think you know what you’re doing!

This is a short list that will hopefully get you in the know.  By the way, “shooting racked” out  simply refers to shooting zoomed all the way on whatever lens you’re using like 200mm on a 70-200mm lens.  “Wide open” refers to a large aperture number like a 2.8 where the opening of the lens is wider.  Now that you know shooting racked out and wide open can simply mean shooting at 2.8 and 200mm you are one of the cool kids.

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