Folks if you’re looking here, it’s because I’ve used some term which you couldn’t understand. If you’re on a Mac, try this: hold down the “Control” and “Apple” key while clicking on a word.

This brings up a contextual dialog box which offers to look up the word for you in a Dictionary on Google or even Wikipedia. But that would defeat the purpose of my making a page like this then, right?

Since this page is a work in progress, it isn’t always up-to-date.

Photography jargon

  • SLR–single lens reflex camera. “Decent SLR body“–those preferring Nikon can get a D-80. If you prefer the Canon line, then Canon 20D or 30D is decent. If you prefer the latest like the 50D, then expect to pay a lot more. Some photographers upgrade their bodies every year. I don’t.
  • F-stop— a ratio referring to the amount of light to yield exposure
  • Bokeh— a “romantic” out-of-focus seamless background that is produced when a lens,usually telephoto, is used in picture-taking at its wide-open aperture setting.
  • Fast lens— a lens is so described when its wide open aperture allows a fast shutter speed to be used even in poor light. Owners tend to have to pay a premium for this. Example for a 50 mm lens in the Canon line a 50 mm f1.8 is about $100, a 50 mm f 1.4 is about $300 and a 50 mm f1.2 is a staggering $1,500! Typical focal length and maximum aperture combinations are 85 mm 1.2, 300 mm f2.8. Canon boasts of having a 200 f 1.8. No longer in production, this lens was a monster but that’s nothing compared to a Nikon 300 mm f 2 lens. When I interned at the Buffalo News in New York, I got a chance to use one. That is such a monster. Top heavy and extremely intimidating.
  • Depth-of-field –refers to the zone of sharpness in any picture. The mnemonic device Seasoned Apples Smell Nutty to Blushing Bachelors can help beginners remember what numbers to set on for the aperture for a desired effect. Essentially this means “Set Aperture to Small Number to Blur Backgrounds.”
  • Equivalent exposure –For any given scene, a light meter gives a 3 settings to produce a good exposure which allows the camera to record a good middle grey so that as much highlight and as much shadow detail is recorded. This amount of light can be achieved by many variations of shutter speed and aperture settings.
    A setting of ISO 200 f 16 @ 1/250 sec is the same exposure as ISO 200 f2.8 @ 1/8000 sec. Both settings produces the same correctly exposed picture. So which one does a photographer use? It all depends on what kind of effect is intended. If he’s doing a head-and-shoulders portrait, then he would chose f 2.8 (a small number) since his intent will be to blur out the background (or less depth-of-field) as much as possible to draw more attention to his subject.
  • Tethered shooting–using camera manufacturer’s software, you can connect a computer or a laptop in my case to download the images from the camera as they are recorded. This allows you to open the image in Photoshop almost instantly to check exposure using Levels and focus by viewing the image at 100%.
  • Color Temperature–if you’ve heard of this that must mean you’ve been shooting on Automatic White Balance or the default setting all this time. Below is a chart to show you what the color temperature is for the more common light sources in our everyday lives.


The internet is such a wonderful teaching too. Tutorial videos can be found for just about any subject. This video by Paul Duncan on using hand held small flash units for your camera is so well-done, I’m embedding it.


Photo tips from a creative Southern California photographer