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That what is being photographed, or a description thereof.
A camera with active autofocusing uses an infrared beam to determine how far away the subject is. This is fine providing the subject isn't behind glass, because the beam will think the glass is the subject. The system is also flawed when the subject is beyond the range of the infrared, then the camera usually switches to an infinity mode.
A documentary photographer takes series of photos of a particular subject, generally involving people. His aim is to tell the story of the subject, or document/record events, through these photographs. He tries to capture truthful and objective (often candid) images of the chosen subject, although these images unavoidably illustrate the photographer's individual take on the subject. Often the photographs are meant to be published or exhibited. And some documentary photographers receive commissions from institutions or companies to document their activities. Also see street photography
One of two popular methods of camera focusing systems, the other is active. Passive has the advantage over active because it isnt fooled by glass in between the camera and the subject. Its also not dependent on subject distance. It works by measuring the subjects contrast and as such its main downfall is when the subject has no contrast. In such situations, such as snow scene or low light, the lens will focus in and out and may never reach sharp focus. Fortunately many cameras with this system have manual override.
An infrared or bright light beam that fires from the camera to the subject to determine camera to subject distance or to assist autofocusing in low light.
The camera uses an infrared beam or the subject's contrast to measure the camera to subject distance and focuses the lens automatically
The measurement of light falling on the subject using a meter with a 180 diffuser cone positioned over the light sensor. This type of meter reading is not affected by the subject's reflectivity so can often be more accurate.
A simple mathematical law that’s usually complicated by its description. The law states that light projected onto a surface is inversely proportional to the square of its distance from the source! See what I mean? Basically if you shine a light on a subject and then move it to twice the distance the subject will receive a quarter of the intensity. Similarly when you half the distance the intensity is multiplied by four.
A type of camera flash synchronisation, found on more sophisticated SLR cameras, that fires the flash just before the second shutter blind closes. It’s used with slow shutter speeds to photograph moving objects. As the movement will be blurred before the flash freezes the subject it appears with a trail behind it. Use normal front curtain sync and the trail will appear unnaturally in front of the subject, making it look as though it is moving backwards.
Many cameras now have a built-in flash that is used to take pictures inside when the light levels are low. The camera detects when flash is needed and automatically fires it, there are usually several other modes to increase the flash's versatility. Red eye reduction fires a pre-flash to prevent large red eye pupils appearing. 'Off' turns an automatic flash off so that the camera can be used with a long shutter speed for night photography. 'On' forces the flash to fire as a fill-in for daylight pictures that have harsh shadows or to illuminate a close subject in a night scene. Slow sync fires flash and records the ambient exposure, which is great for creating image trails and creative subject movement.
Cameras and exposure meters can take readings of the light levels in a number of ways, from basic to advanced methods. The most basic is Centre-weighted (CW) or average metering that takes a measurement from most of the image area. A more sophisticated version of this is Partial (P) metering that has a narrow area of measurement that is still based on the centre of the image and Spot (S) that can measure from as little as 1 of the image. The most commonly used in more advanced cameras now is Matrix, also known as Multi-pattern (MP) or segment metering, that takes readings from several parts of the scene and produces a calculated average. Buying advice In most cases the basic metering with an auto camera is fine, especially if you have the sun behind you or it is overcast. But when you start to try more advanced shots, such as the sun behind the subject for a backlit halo effect or an archway with light streaming through the pillars or a spotlit subject against a dark background, you may find the standard meter will let you down. If you can see yourself shooting subjects like this, buy a camera that lets you switch over to spot or multi-pattern metering.
This is how the camera adjusts the shutter speed and aperture to ensure the right amount of light reaches the film or CCD. Early cameras only had a manual mode (M) where the user had to select the aperture and shutter speed manually to ensure the correct exposure. Over the years cameras have become more sophisticated and now offer several automated modes including Program (P) - a fully automatic exposure mode that sets the aperture and shutter speed; Aperture priority mode (AP) where the user selects the aperture and the camera sets the necessary shutter speed; and shutter priority (SP, or Tv on some cameras) where the user selects the shutter speed and the camera sets the necessary aperture. Auto bracketing (AB) takes a pre-selected number of photographs, one at the suggested exposure and one to either side, so you can be sure of one accurate result. There are also several subject-based program modes that we haven't listed here that tailor the camera for particular subjects such as sports (action), landscapes, portraits, or flowers (close-ups). Some digital cameras have black & white and sepia modes. Buying advice A full auto program mode is ideal for point-and-shoot photography, but it's also useful to have some control over the exposure. The beauty with digital is that you can see whether the camera has got the shot right by previewing the image on the LCD. If not, you try again. If there is no manual control you can often preset the exposure using an auto-exposure lock or exposure compensation. The subject based program modes are often a waste of time and don't really bring much to the package. Special effects modes on digital cameras are also throw-away because all these can be created using the computer later.
A method of drawing around a subject using a Pen tool to create an editable path. This can be turned into a selection so the subject can be copied or edited.
Optical problem in a camera lens that produces slight errors in subject appearance, usually noticeable in small details.
A measure of how the step from high to low density reproduces in a developed film that has been exposed to a high contrast subject. A high acutance developer produces a steeper step from low to high density and, as a result, makes the image appear sharper
A device found in digital cameras and scanners that converts analogue picture information (continuous tone subject) to digital data (digital image).
A button or lever on the camera or exposure meter used to lock the automatically measured light reading into a memory while you recompose.This is ideal for backlit subjects because you can move closer to the subject, take a reading without any background in the view, lock the exposure and move back to the original position to take the photo.It's also fine for landscapes when there's an expanse of bright sky. Point the camera down to the ground, lock the exposure, recompose and shoot.Use this to bias the exposure to one area of the scene or to maintain a consistent reading when lighting conditions are variable.
A mode to lock the focus to a predetermined point. Useful when the subject is moving fast because you can take the photo as it reaches a certain point or when other influences could affect the focusing such as shooting through glass or in crowded locations.
Override of the camera's auto-exposure setting that increases the exposure by between one and two stops. Use this mode to prevent a silhouette when taking photos while the light is behind the subject.
A metal pole that attaches to a lighting stand and holds a flash head at the end. A counterbalance weight is also usually used. This is used to get the flash closer to the subject as well as over or under it.
Light that is reflected off a surface before reaching the subject. Flash is often bounced off a ceiling or card to soften the result. Reflectors can be used to bounce light into shadow areas to reduce contrast.
A distance, or angle, measure given by binocular manufacturers that's similar to angle of view on a lens. It's usually indicated in degrees or as a width in meters at 1000m. A pair of binoculars with, for example, 6 or 105m at 1000m indicates that you will see a 105m span when you're viewing a subject that's 1000m away. A wider field of view is better for looking at wider expanses - birds in flight, horse racing, starry skies, etc.
A way of reducing harsh contrast by adding light to darker or shaded areas of the subject using a reflective material or flash.
Indicates the output, or power, of an electronic flash. You can use the guide number to work out the aperture or flash to subject distance by dividing either into the guide number.