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Tech Podcast Network

Glossary

 

Minolta SRT 101 135mm F3.5What on Earth do all those technical terms mean? Photography may be an art, but the tools you use to create that art are definitely on the complicated side.

So here's a Glossary of the more popular terms, with a hopefully accurate description and simple explanation.



Abstract. Style of photography where the subject of the photo isn't always obvious.

Anti-Shake. Various methods used by camera makers to help you take sharper, less blurred photographs. Physical methods can rely on moving the elements inside the lens or the sensor inside the camera (These two are the best methods). Software methods usually rely on using a higher ISO setting, which means the camera can use a higher (faster) shutter speed. Just remember that a higher ISO setting can lead to more noise in your photos - which is bad!

Aperture. The size of the hole in your lens which lets the light in. Aperture is measured by the F-Stop setting, and that is actually a fraction of the focal length (don't worry about that) but it does mean that the "big holes" are F1.4 - F3.5 and the "small holes" are F13.5 and above.

The bigger the hole, the more light comes in, so the camera can work faster and user higher shutter speeds. The smaller the hole, the less light comes in, so your camera has to use a longer shutter speed (watch out for blur!).

Why not use a large aperture (small F number) all the time then? - Because of Depth of Field, which is the area of your photo that is in focus. A small F-number (F3.5 and below) will have a very small Depth of Field - so the stuff in front and behind your subject will be out of focus - great if you want that effect, but not good if you want to take a landscape shot with everything in focus.

As your subject (what you're focusing on) gets further away, the DoF will increase anyway - that's why even if you're using a small f-number, things in the distance will all be sharp if you focus on them.

Aperture Priority Mode. An Automatic-Exposure mode in your camera that lets you control the aperture (the F-Number), while the camera will sort out the shutter speed (and sometimes the ISO).

This is a very popular setting - it means you can choose what areas of your photograph should be in focus - choose a small F-Number (large aperture) if you want an artistic shot where only a small portion of the image is sharp, of a large F-Number (small aperture) if you want everything in focus.

ASA. Old standard for measuring the sensitivity of Film to light, now replaced by (and the same as) ISO.

Auto-Bracketing. A setting in your camera where it will take more than one photograph every time you press the shutter button. Auto bracketing can take under and over exposed photographs, or different treatments. The control and number of shots taken depends on your camera.

Exposure Auto-Bracketing is really useful in difficult lighting conditions where you want to make sure you get the right exposure, so you get the camera to take a number of differently exposed shots.

Auto-bracketing also comes in useful when you want to create HDR images.

Auto-Focus (AF). (Single AF, Continuous, Manual). Auto focus is cool! It automatically focuses on whats in the middle of your viewfinder - but you have even more control over it than you know!

Single AF will just focus when you press your shutter button half-way down.

Continuous AF will force the camera to keep on focusing all the time, at whatever it's pointing at. This will speed up your shooting, but drain your battery faster.

Manual Focusing - Old School! Use the focus ring on your lens, or a lever on your camera and you choose whats in focus - can by tricky on anything but SLRs.

Auto-Focus Modes. (Centre, Multi, Area.) Your camera will normally just try and focus on what's in the middle of your view-finder, but delve into the controls and you'll find that you can ask it to try and focus on anything with high-contrast near the middle of the frame (Multi) or you can specify it where you want it to focus (Area). Great for macro work and Rule of Thirds Compositions where you don't want to have to use AF / AE Lock.

Auto-Focus Assist / Illuminator. The little light on the front of your camera that helps it to focus by shining on your subject - try not to cover it up with your fingers!

AF / AE Lock. (Focus / Meter and Recompose). When you want to take a photo, you press the shutter butter half-way down, your camera focuses and sorts out the exposure (for what's near the centre of the scene), then you press the button all the way down and the camera takes the picture.

What if you want to focus on something that's not in the middle of your scene? You could play around with the Auto-Focus settings, and use a different focusing point, but the quickest way is to simply point your camera at the subject you want in focus, press your shutter button half-way down, then recompose and take the shot.

Automatic Mode. The setting on your camera where it will control everything except where you point it... Perfect for practising your composition skills, but takes away your artistic choices of aperture and shutter speed. A must for those situations where you've "gotta get that shot" and don't have time for second attempts - kids birthdays anyone?

Back Lighting. A style of photography where you take photographs of subjects that are lit from behind, usually with the Sun low in the sky - imagine silhouettes, trees lit up from the back, etc.

Bracketing. The technique where you manually take under and exposed photographs to make sure you get a good shot. You would normally control the exposure with different shutter-speeds, so you don't change the Depth of Field.

Bridge Camera. Style of camera that usually has a lens capable of extreme zooms, but has a compact cameras sensor, and is a lot cheaper that a d-SLR. Bridge Cameras have fixed lenses that can't be changed.

Blinkies. If your camera can display a histogram (check your manual) it can probably show you the blinkies. This is a view of a shot you've taken where the camera will make any parts of the photo (usually referred to as the highlights) that have "blown out" or gone to white with no detail, "blink" on the screen. This allows you to decide whether to change the exposure (slow down the shutter speed) so you can recover that detail with another shot.

Blown Out. Parts of your photograph that have no detail because they have become over-exposed and gone to total white. These parts of the photograph will have no detail - no colour - so you can't recover anything in Post-Processing (photo editing). In some cases this doesn't matter, but normally you'll want to change the exposure to reduce any blown-out areas.

Buffer. If you want to shoot photographs continuously, your camera needs a large buffer. Check the specifications of your camera before you buy - look at the fps (frames per second) and how many pics you can take before the buffer fills up and the camera slows down. A large buffer is essential for sports photographers.

Bokeh. Posh name for a nice blurred background, usually referred to where the Photographer has used a large aperture (small F-number) for artistic effect. As in: "That Glass gives really cool Bokeh, man!"

Burning. The process of darkening selected areas of your photographs, usually with the "burn" (!) tool in Photoshop, Elements or other Photo-Editing Software.

CCD Sensor. A type of sensor used in Digital Cameras that has replaced film. CCD stands for Charge Coupled Device, and is found mainly in Compact, Point and Shoot and Bridge Cameras. The sensor changes light into electrical output.

Chromatic Aberration. Effect found in photographs usually taken at a wide-angle and of subjects with high-contrast backgrounds. It usually looks like a purple fringe around the edge of something - typically tree branches against a bright sky. The colour can be removed in Post Processing, but some sort of edging can remain.

Cokin Filters. Lens Filter System that uses adapters specific to the diameter of the lens, a universal holder, and then universal square or round filters. Comes in two formats: Cokin A for smaller lenses; Cokin P for larger professional lenses.

CMOS Sensor. Another type of sensor used in Digital Cameras to turn light into electrical output.

Compact Camera. Usually refers to cheaper, smaller, Digital Cameras, but with models like Canon's G9 on the market, serious Photographers can now have a serious compact in their pocket. Compacts have fixed lenses that can't be changed.

Compact Flash (CF Cards). Form of digital storage preferred by top-end dSLR's - its seen as a lot tougher than SD cards (and less easy to lose!)

Composition. The act of arranging the subjects in your photograph, or moving the position of the camera, to produce a final image that is pleasing to the eye. Guidelines can be the Rule of Thirds, leading lines, etc.

Continuous Shooting. (Burst.) A setting in your camera that tells it to keep on taking pictures when you've got your finger pressed down on the shutter button, a bit like a machine gun. The camera will keep on shooting until the buffer is full, or your memory card is full.

Crop. The act of chopping down a photograph in photo-editing software. You can crop to change a portrait orientated photo to a landscape, to remove distractions, or just to change the aspect ratio of the photo.

Crop Factor. Unless you've got a very expensive d-SLR, the sensor inside your camera will be smaller than a piece of 35mm film. This means that if you want to compare focal lengths we've got a little bit of maths to do.

If you put a 50mm lens on a SLR with a crop factor of 1.5, the final photograph will come out as if its been taken using a 75mm lens - you're closer

Depth of Field (DoF). The amount of space that your camera can focus on at a given aperture, focal length and distance from subject.

Think of a situation where you're using a large aperture (small f-stop) on a subject that's pretty close, like a flower. The flower is in focus, but the background is out of focus. This is a small Depth of Field.

Imagine a landscape shot, of a field with some hills in the background. You've chosen a small aperture (large f-stop), so everything is in focus. That's a large Dof.

Depth of field will get smaller as you use bigger apertures. Depth of Field will get smaller the closer you get to a subject. Depth of field will get smaller the larger the focal length (the bigger the lens) you're using. (And vice versa).

Depth of Field Preview. When you look through your viewfinder, the lens is always wide open, at its widest aperture, so you're not getting a true representation of the depth of field, especially if you're using a small aperture to maximise DoF.

By pressing your DoF button or lever, the lens "stops down" so you can see the true depth of field. The problem is that if you're using a small aperture, a lot less light then enters the lens, so your view-finder can go quite dark.

Deviantart. Art sharing website for photographers, painters, digital artists, etc.

Diffuser. Could refer to a special filter for your lens that makes everything go a little soft (eg portraits of people), or a device that goes in front of a flash or light-source to make the light a lot softer and less harsh. (Think of a pearl light-bulb versus a clear one).

Digital Zoom. This is where a camera blows up the image digitally - just like if you were to crop it in photo-editing software then zoom in. This isn't a good idea, as it reduces the resolution and quality, so always use true optical zoom which gives you much better image quality.

Distractions. The things that creep into your picture that detract from the main subject, such as poles growing out of peoples heads, rubbish on the ground, brightly coloured ties, etc.

To avoid distractions you've really got to look all around your view-finder, then recompose if necessary. Remember, photographers see subjects, cameras see distractions.

Dodging. The act of lightening specific parts of your photograph in Photoshop / Elements or other Photo-Editing software, using the "Dodge Tool"(!).

d-SLR. High end Digital Cameras that have changeable lenses, and where a mirror allows you to be able to look directly through the lens when composing your photographs. When you press the shutter button, the lens flips up out of the way and the shutter opens.

d-SLR's (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras have the best lenses and the best sensors. They can take photos incredibly quickly, and take photos at the highest resolutions. Professionals use d-SLR's, but there' plenty of entry-level and mid-level options for us hobbyists.

Exposure. The art of allowing the right amount of light to fall on your cameras sensor (or film), so that the photograph comes out right. We control exposure with ISO, aperture and shutter speed. (And maybe a bit of flash too.)

Exif. Exif DATA is the extra stuff that comes with your photo (in the same file) that describes the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc, that you had in your camera when you took it.

Exposure Compensation. The act of asking your camera to make your pictures darker or lighter than it thinks they really should be. Used in extreme lighting conditions where the camera can be fooled. Imagine you wanted to take a picture of snowy fields. The camera would think the snow is too white, so darken it down, making it look grey. You would use exposure compensation to tell the camera to brighten the image up.

F-Stop. Used to describe the aperture. F numbers are actually fractions of the focal length, so they're really f/3.5, f/8 - so the smaller the number the bigger the aperture.

Fast Lenses. Lenses that have a very large aperture, which lets in lots of light, so you can use a fast shutter speed. This is important if you're shooting hand-held, or moving subjects. Making lenses that are fast, and have a long zoom, can be very expensive.


Fill Light. The act of using your flash or another light-source to brighten the foreground when normally it would be underexposed (too dark). Imagine taking a photo of a nice sunset, with a person in the foreground.

You take your exposure off the sky, and the person would normally become a black silhouette, so you turn your flash on (normally to forced flash). This means that when you take the photo, the camera exposes the sky correctly, and the flash brightens up the people.

Filter. A piece of glass or plastic that screws onto the front of your camera for various artistic or technical effects. The most popular filter is a polarizer - which can increase the colour in landscape shots, reducing glare.

Flickr. Popular photo-sharing site.

Focal Length. The distance from your lens to your sensor (or film). The longer the focal length, the bigger the "zoom" factor of the lens. Photographs taken with a 50mm lens are considered to look the same as how they would have looked with your eye at the time - the same aspect ratio.

Zoom lenses have variable focal lengths, so they're called (for example) 18-55mm, whereas a Prime Lens has a fixed focal length, so will just be called 135mm.

Focal Range. The distances at which your lens can focus on. For normal lenses you're only really interested in the minimum focusing distance - check your manual - because after a certain distance the lens will focus to infinity, so everything will be in focus.

Format. The act of getting a memory card ready for pictures. You'll want to format your memory cards in your camera, not in your PC, if you want to avoid file errors.

Frame. Posh name for a shot taken with your camera.

Framing. Using something to create a natural border around your subject - it could be tree branches, a doorway, etc.

Front Lighting. Taking photographs with the Sun behind you, so the light falls directly onto your subject.

Full Frame Sensors. This is where the sensor inside the camera, a d-SLR, is the same size as a piece of 35mm film. This means that there is no "crop factor" with lenses, but the big gain can be with less noise - the individual pixels that pick up the light can be bigger, which means they create less noise.

Geotagging. The act of embedding the latitude and longitude of where you took the photograph into the exif data. Usually achieved with a separate Geotagger and some software on your PC.

Gimp. Free Photo Editing Software, an alternative to Photoshop.

Glass. Posh name for lenses. As in: "I need to get some faster glass, man!"

Graduated Filters. Special type of filter that starts off dark and the top, then changes to clear by the middle. Used to even out the exposure between sky and the ground.

Grain. (Film). In film, the particles that change colour when its exposed to light, clump together, to form grain. In low ISO film the grain is small, and in high ISO film the grain is big.

Grain is different too, and looks nicer than, digital noise.

Hard Light. Bright, strong light that causes deep and well defined shadows. Typically occurs when the Sun is high in the sky, or you're using your on-camera flash. Not good for most photography.

HDR / HDRi. High Dynamic Range imaging. Our cameras have great difficulty taking photo's of scenes with a lot of dark and a lot of light. Imagine a landscape shot, taken in the middle of the day. The sky would be bright, and any shadows on the ground quite dark. You could either expose for the sky, but the ground would be too dark (under exposed) or expose for the ground, and the sky would blow-out (over exposed.)

If we were to take a number of differently exposed shots of the same scene, we could use software like Photomatix to combine all those exposures into a HDR image. Photomatix would then "tone map" that HDR to create a photo we can see on our monitor and go on to edit.

SO, HDR helps us to create photo's where the dynamic range of the scene (how bright and dark it is) exceeds the capability of our cameras.

High Key Lighting. Normally refers to a style of photography (usually portrait) where the overall tone of the image is bright - imagine a studio shot with a white background and lots of lights to reduce the shadows.

Highlights. The bright bits of your photograph.

High-Pass Filter. Used in Photoshop or Elements with an Overlay Blend mode to sharpen photos.

High-Speed Shooting. Usually a setting on your camera where it will continually auto-focus (instead of waiting for you to press the shutter button). Drains your battery faster than normal.

Highlight Warning. Can be an indicator on your camera screen, or the "blinkies" where your camera is telling you that some of the image has blown out, over exposed, and all the detail has been lost to pure white.

Adjust your ISO or shutter speed to reduce the exposure.

Histogram. Diagram that is a representation of the tones included in your photograph. Blacks on the left, whites on the right. By studying the Histogram you can alter your cameras exposure to prevent "clipping"- where detail is being lost because the shot is being over-exposed.

If you look at your histogram and see a big spike near the right, your photo is probably going to be over-exposed, so you need to reduce the exposure.

Hyper-Focal. The distance from your lens at which point everything beyond that distance will be in focus, so you don't need to try (or can't) adjust the focus.

Image Stabalisation. Various methods used by camera makers to help your take sharper, less blurred photographs. Physical methods can rely on moving the elements inside the lens or the sensor inside the camera (These two are the best methods). Software methods usually rely on using a higher ISO setting, which means the camera can use a higher (faster) shutter speed. Just remember that a higher ISO setting can lead to more noise in your photos - which is bad!

ISO. Standard by which cameras sensitivity to light are judged. To change the ISO in the film days you had to buy different film, but with digital it's just a setting inside your camera.

Low ISO (64, 100) = low sensitivity to light. High ISO (800, 1600) = high sensitivity to light.

In digital cameras ISO is increased by amplifying the output from the electronic sensor, which leads to noise (bad.)

The best ISO setting for the highest quality is usually the lowest number - so ISO 64 or 100. After that noise will start to creep in. However, at low ISO's, you've got to use wider apertures or longer shutter speeds - which can lead to camera shake blur, or subject blur, so often it's necessary to use a higher ISO or a flash.

The Holy Grail of Digital Photography is cameras that can use very high ISO's without introducting lots of noise, so you can take photos in dark conditions without a flash. The newer, high-end d-SLR's are starting to achieve this.

Jaggies. Distortions to your photograph that occur if your save an image as a low-quality .jpg, or if you open a .jpg, edit it, then save it again.

What you should do is not edit and save over your original photographs - always save edits as a different name, or in a lossless format like .psd (Photoshop / Elements file format.) Only save to .jpg when you want to upload to the web, create slideshows or email pics to people.

.jpg. Common file format used for saving photographs. Jpegs compress the info in the photograph so the file size is manageable and useable for email, on the web, etc.

The problem with .jpg is that it throws away some of the information out of the photo - if you can shoot in RAW, use that instead, or use the highest jpg setting in your camera.

After you've got a photo from your camera, and it's a jpg, never edit and save over the original - it will cause a loss of quality. Always save edits as a different file, or save in a lossless format, such as photoshops .psd.

Leading Lines. Composition technique where you use lines in the scene to draw the viewers eyes through the image. Imagine a picture of a river, snaking away through the landscape.

Horizontal and vertical lines are OK, but diagonals are better. The strongest leading lines are often curves, which are interesting to the eye, but also natural. Search for leading lines in your scenes and make the most of them.

Lens Flare. Occurs when strong light enters your lens and makes bright, usually circular, shapes and patterns on the photograph. Can also cause haze, where the whole photo goes misty.

Prevent lens flare with a Lens Hood, or by holding your hand over the end of the lens to keep it in shadow.

Lens Hood. Piece of plastic or metal that projects from the end of your lens. Sometimes they're screwed on, sometimes they're part of the lens.

Lens hoods helped to reduce lens flare, and also protect your lens if your drop it or bash it into things.

Low-Key Lighting. A style of photography where the majority of the tones are darker, imagine a studio portrait of a person with a dark background, with the person in darker clothes.

Low-Lights. The darker bits of your photograph.

Macro. Type of Photgraphy where you take photos very close to your subject, like insects, plants, etc. Normally you need a special lens or a special setting on your camera.

Manual Mode. Setting on your camera where you make all the decisions about exposure, but the camera still handles the auto-focus. You have to set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed, based on the read-out from the cameras in-built light-meter. A lot easier than it sounds, plus it slows you down enough to really think about your composition.

Mode Dial. The little wheel on top of your camera that selects the various settings, such as Auto, Aperture Priority, Manual Mode, etc.

Neutral Density Filters. (ND). Type of filter that screws onto the front of your lens, or slides into a holder, that reduces the total amount of light entering your camera so you can use longer shutter speeds or wider apertures.

Imagine a scene where you want to get a nice "misty" effect on some running water - the ND Filter blocks out a lot of the light so you can use a longer shutter-speed, and the water blurs.

Noise. The little speckles that appear on your photos when you use higher ISO settings. In order to take high ISO photos, your camera has to amplifly the electrical output from the sensor - but this means it amplifies the noise too (which is present in all electronic devices).

To avoid noise, use a lower ISO, or try to remove it in post-processing.

Noise Ninja. A software program that can reduce and remove noise from your digital photos.

Optical Zoom. The means whereby your camera can "zoom" in by moving the glass in the lens, keeping resolution and image quality.

Painting With Light. Can refer to lightening certain areas of your photograph in photo-editing software, or also a technique where you take photographs in the dark, then light up your subject with a torch or laser pointer.

Panning. The technique of turning your camera while following your subject - normally to create a photo with an in-focus subject, but the background is blurred. Imagine a picture of a racing car, with the car nice and sharp, but the background blurred. This creates a great sensation of speed.

Photomatix. Software that combines photographs taken at different exposures into a HDR image. Photomatix then "tone maps" the HDR image to create a photo we can edit.

Photometry. (Multi, Spot, Average) The method you use to get a light-reading so your camera (or you) can set the ISO, aperture and shutter-speed to achieve a correct exposure.

Multi usually means the camera will look at the scene, then delve into its databases and come up with what it thinks is the best light-reading.

Spot - the lightmeter just looks at the centre of your scene, and takes its reading off there. (Can lead to seriously under or over-exposed photos if you're not careful)

Average - the lightmeter takes the whole scene and works out an average value - the most basic type of photometry, multi is usually better.

Photoshop. Expensive software for editing your Photographs.

Photoshop Elements. Value for money software for editing your Photographs.

Point and Shoot Camera. Usually refers to budget, small cameras that are the most popular because they're so easy to use. Point and shoots have fixed lenses that can't be changed.

Polarizing Filter. Filter that screws onto the front of your lens, or slides into a holder, that cuts down on glare from the sun. This means that colours become more vivid, skys bluer, clouds whiter, etc.

Polarizing filters also make water and glass transparent from certain angles - they're the most useful type of filter. Polarizers do cut down on the amount of light entering your lens, so you've got to use a wider aperture, longer shutter speed or higher ISO. (Or a tripod).

Post-Processing. The act of editing your photographs on your PC afetr you've taken them, usually with software like Photoshop or Elemements.

Prime Lenses. Lenses that have a fixed focal length - they can't zoom - so you've got to walk backwards and forwards to compose your photographs. Primes are normally cheaper and sharper than zoom lenses.

Program Mode. A setting on your camera where it will make all the decisions relating to exposure - aperture, shutter speed, and sometimes ISO, but where you can "nudge" the settings so that you can make the camera use a larger aperture and it'll change the shutter speed. You also get access to the more advanced settings such as Photometry and white ballance, and more control over your flash.

Purple Fringing. Effect found in photographs usually taken at a wide-angle and of subjects with high-contrast backgrounds. It usually looks like a purple fringe around the edge of something - typically tree branches against a bright sky. The colour can be removed in Post Processing, but some sort of edging can remain. Also called Chromatic Aberation.

RAW. Native photo format of higher end cameras that retains all the data without compression, so file sizes are a lot larger than .jpg.

The advantage of RAW files is that you have much more room to change things like white-ballance, exposure and sharpness, than with a .jpg.

Think of RAW as a digital negative - but its different for all camera makes (and sometimes models), so a special program is needed to "decode" the data - such as Adobe Camera RAW, or software that comes with your camera.

Red-Eye. The effect you see in photographs taken with an on-camera flash, where peoples eyes turn red. Can be avoided by using an off-camera flash, or sometimes with the "Red-Eye Reduction" mode on your flash. Or turn the flash off.

Reflector. Anything used to bounce light back towards your subject. You can use purpose made pop-out reflectors of various colours, or make your own out of ploystyrene or any reflective material.

Rule of Thirds. Compositional guideline where you draw divide your scene up with two vertical and two horizontal lines, equally spaced. You can line up your horizon, or peoples eyes, on the horizontal lines. Place you subject on the intersection of two of these lines.

Scene Position Modes. Settings on your camera where you tell it what sort of situation you want to take a picture of, and your camera will use the appropriate settings. Useful for Fireworks, beach and snow shots, or any situation where you think the cameras normal system could be fooled.

Secure Digital (SD) Cards. Small memory cards used for storing photos inside your digital camera. Cheap and lightweight, they're also pretty easy to lose, so be careful!

Self Timer. Button on the back of your camera that will make it wait a few seconds before taking a picture - great for reducing camera shake.

Sharpness. How clear a photograph is - if your subject is in focus and you can see lots of detail it's "sharp".

Sharpness can be reduced by the camera moving, the subject moving, or the focus being off.

Shutter Delay Button. Button on the back of your camera that will make it wait a few seconds before taking a picture - great for reducing camera shake.

Shutter Lag. The delay between you pressing the shutter button and the camera actually taking the photograph. Budget cameras have a longer "lag" than expensive ones. With High-end dSLRs the camera takes the picture immediately.

Shutter Priority Mode. Setting in your camera where you choose the shutter speed, and the camera will set the aperture (and sometimes ISO) to achieve a correct exposure.

Long shutter speeds are great if you want a "misty" water effect on the sea or rivers, medium speeds for motion-blur in panning shots, and high shutter speeds for freezing time.

Shutter Speed. The time it takes for your camera to take a picture. Fast shutter speed = frozen time, low shutter speed = blurred, artistic shots.

The shutter doesn't open and close like a trap door. Its more like a curtain that opens, then another curtain closes, one after the other, both in the same direction.

Slow Synchro Flash. A setting for your flash where the camera will use a longer shutter speed so that the background is lit up, then it fires the flash to light up the fore-ground.

Speed-Light. Nikons name for a flash.

SLR. Single Lens Reflex Camera. Usually used to describe old film carmeras where you look directly through the lens, with digitals now being called dSLRs, but SLR is now being atatched to digital types too.

Soft. If a picture is a bit out of focus it is often called "soft".

Soft Light. Indirect light that causes mild shadows, or light from a very large source that is close to the subject - this gets rid of most shadows. Imagine someone standing next to a frosted window, or a window thats been covered with a shower curtain.

Standard. Usually refers to a lens with a 50mm focal length, which takes photos that look the same as the view from our eye, as if we were there at the time.

Still Life. Style of photography where you take pictures of inanimate objects.

Subject. The thing you're taking a photo of. Most good pictures have a clear and strong subject.

Super-Zoom Camera. Digital Camera with a built-in lens that normally covers an enormous zoom range. Also called a bridge camera.

Sweet Spot. All lenses have differeny levels of "sharpness" across their focal range, focal length and aperture - find the sharpest setting and you've got the "sweet spot".

The sweet spot is normally is near the middle of the focal range (if its a zoom) and a couple of stops up from the smallest aperture - but using that setting does mean you've got to look out for camera shake.

Sync Speed. The maximum shutter speed at which your flash can fire and still produce photographs without black-bands running across them. The black bands are actually the shutter curtains moving across the sensor.

Tack-Sharp. A photograph where the subject is well focussed when zoomed in to 100%. You can achieve "tack sharp" photos by using a tripod, shutter delay, smaller apertures, and by not taking photos of things that might move. As in "That photo is tack-sharp man!"

Telephoto. Any lens with a focal length bigger than 50mm.

Tiff. Older file format that is still usefull because it can contain more info than a .jpg, and can be lossless. Still used in the printing and publishing industries, but if you've got the choice in your camera, go with RAW.

If your software (such as Photomatix) gives you a choice between jpg and TIFF, go with 16 bit TIFF - its higher quality.

Time Lapse. The technique of taking a lot of photographs in a row to create a video, usually of things like flowers opening or the Sun traveling across the sky.

Unsharp Mask. Filter used in Photoshop / Elements Software to sharpen an image(!).

Vignette. Optical effect where the corners of a photograph are darkened. This can be deliberate, and added in post-processing for an artistic effect, or an unwanted side-effect of some lenses or filters.

White Ballance. The way in which your camera decides on what the colours in your photographs should look like. We mostly use auto-white ballance, but for real control, make a custom white-ballance. You can do this by delving into the cameras settings, then take a picture of a white piece of card or paper, (or grey), in the lighting situation you're in. The camera will then adjust the colours for yellowish lighting (like when you're inside) or other difficult lighting conditions.

Wide Angle. Any lens with a smaller focal length than 50mm.

Wireless Flash. System where your camera can trigger other, off camera, flashes using Infra-Red, meaning that you don't have to have leads tripping you over. Expensive, and mostly supported by more expensive dSLR's, or accessories that plug into the hot shoe on the top of your camera (if you've got one).

Phew! That was a lot of work, and I apologise for any ommisions or mistakes.

If there's something I've missed, or got wrong, please leave a comment below.

Cheers, Rob.