Photography Jargon

Aperture – Low number, f/2.8, means lots of blur. High number, f/20, means no blur. How to use: Want blur? Get the number as low as possible.

ISO – How sensitive the camera sensor is to light. How to use: If it’s dark outside or inside, increase ISO. Not too much though. Why? Because of grain or noise.

Noise – Those fuzzy things on your photo when your ISO is too high. How to use: Don’t use this. Avoid it.

Shutter speed – How quickly your sensor captures light aka a photo. How to use: Want a sharp photo? Increase the shutter speed. Want a blurry photo? Decrease the shutter speed

(See The dilemma triangle of aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Article coming soon)

Bokeh – LOTS of blur. How to use: Get the aperture number as low as possible.

Composition – When there’s some order to your photo. How to use: Have OCD

Digital/camera sensor – A thing that’s exposed to light for a certain length of time that produces your photo. AKA where the magic happens.

Mirrorless camera – A camera without a mirror.

DSLR – A camera with a mirror.

Exposure – How light or dark a photo is. How to use: Decrease shutter speed. Or increase ISO. Or decrease aperture.

RAW – You’re a photography expert. It’s a file format of a photo. File sizes are usually the size of Mount Everest but make it worth it when editing.

JPG – You’re just starting out. It is also a file format of a photo. Usually small in size.

Focal length – “The focal length describes the distance in millimetres between the lens and the image it forms on the film. It informs the angle of view (how much of what is being shot will be captured) and the magnification (how large things will appear). Essentially, the focal length is how ‘zoomed in’ your images will appear. For example, a Canon (or Nikon or Olympus) 35mm lens will create images that appear more ‘zoomed in’ than a Canon 18mm.”…Even I don’t understand.

Manual mode – Seems like someone is getting confident in their abilities. (Manual Mode tutorial coming soon)

Metering – Extremely underrated tool. It’s used to measure the brightness of the photo. There are 3 different modes – Matrix(Measures everything and tries to find a balance), Centre-weighted(Prioritizes light exposure in the middle of the frame), Spot(You tell the camera what part of the frame to prioritize).

White balance – How warm or cold your photo is. Or how green or purple it is. (Tip: Use the “cloudy” setting for warmer photos. Great for sunsets and some portraits.)

Prime or fixed lens – A lens that can’t zoom and has a fixed focal length. Like my 35mm (fixed) f/1.8 lens on the right. The one on the left is a zoom lens.

Depth of field – It is how much ‘depth’ or blur there are in front and behind the object, you’re focusing on. Consider the photos below, the one on the left has a shallow depth of field, meaning only the part I’m focusing on is in focus. Everything in front and behind is blurred. The photo on the right has a deep depth of field because everything is in focus. Hence you can look ‘deeper into the photo’.

If you found this helpful, here are 5 photography tips for beginners.

Learn about developing your eye for detail.

Thinking about which camera you should buy to begin photography?


Foundation of Photography

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