Monthly Archives: December 2011

Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

This Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms (A through Z) was originally compiled as a handout for the basic digital photography class I teach.  As shown in this photo blog it is a “living document” laid out in six blog postings.  The definitions will be expanded, updated and upgraded as needed.  Feel free to suggest additional terms for the list.


Saturation  The degree to which a color is undiluted by white light. If a color is 100 percent saturated, it contains no white light. If a color has no saturation, it is a shade of gray.

Scanner  A device that captures an image of a piece of artwork, a slide, or a negative, and then converts it to a digitized image or bitmap that the computer can handle.

Scene Modes  Most often found on point-and-shoot digital cameras, the special picture-taking modes  automatically set available focus and exposure controls for a certain type of subject matter.  Example: portrait, landscape, kids, sports and more.

Self-Timer  Mechanism that delays the opening of the shutter for some seconds after the release has been operated.

Shutter  The device in a camera that opens and shuts to allow light into the camera.

Shutter Button  The button on your digital camera that you press to take a picture.

Shutter Speed  The length of time that the camera shutter remains open, thereby allowing light to enter the camera and expose the photograph.

Shutter-Priority Auto-Exposure  A semi-automatic exposure mode in which the photographer sets the shutter speed and the camera selects the appropriate aperture.

SLR (single-lens reflex) camera  A type of camera, film and digital, that has interchangeable lenses.  When composing an image in the viewfinder you are looking through the lens.  The image is reflected to the viewfinder by two mirrors.  One of the mirrors is in front of the sensor.  When the shutter button is pressed, the mirror “reflexes” up so that light coming through the lens reaches the sensor.  After the exposure the mirror drops back into place.

Spot Metering  Metering mode that bases exposure on light in the center of the frame only.


Telephoto lens  A lens that magnifies an image.

Thumbnail  A small, low-resolution version of a larger image file that is used for quick identification.

TTL (Through The Lens)  An autofocus or auto-exposure system that works through the camera’s lens.

TIFF (pronounced tiff)  Stands for Tagged Image File Format.  TIFF was a popular digital image format supported by Macintosh and Windows programs.

Tripod  A three-legged supporting stand used to hold the camera steady.  Useful when using slow shutter speeds and/or telephoto lenses.


Underexposed  When too little light hits the camera’s film or image-sensor array, creating an image that’s too dark.

USB  Stands for Universal Serial Bus. A type of port now included on most computers. Most digital cameras come with a USB cable for connecting the camera to this port.


Viewfinder  The eyepiece window used to frame the subject.

Optical viewfinder  An eye level viewfinder that is used to compose the photograph and is the traditional type of viewfinder.

Electronic viewfinder (EVF)  An LCD within the eyepiece and is used on many new digital cameras.


White Balancing (WB)  Adjusting the camera to compensate for color temperature light hitting the subject.  Proper WB eliminates unwanted color casts produced by changing light sources.

Wide-Angle Lens  A lens that has a shorter focal length and a wider field of view than a normal lens for a particular film or digital image format.


Zoom Lens  A lens that can change focal lengths at your command to provide more or less magnification of the image.

December 27, 2011


Photo Tips for New Photographers

Photo Tips for New Photographers

1. Keep your camera with you.  The best camera is the one you have with you.  Keep your equipment simple -just a small camera bag– and keep it close.

2. Look around.  Look at familiar surroundings with photography in mind. You might catch an interesting trick of the light or find an unexpected wildflowers in your yard.  Simple subjects make great shots.

3. Take photos early and often.   If you want to get good, photograph something every day.  Start in your backyard.  Look with the eyes of a photographer and you’ll see opportunities you never noticed before.

4. Learn all you can.  One of the great things about photography is the never-ending supply of things to learn.  Dedicate an hour a day to reading about photography, listening to photography podcasts and taking photos and you will soon be an expert.

5. Take advantage of free resources.  Explore the Internet for tips and inspiration.  Don’t forget the resources available at the Cheboygan Public Library.

6. Learn the basic rules.  There is so much information available about photography that it can be overwhelming.  Start with one aspect of photography that interests you.  (Focus, shutter speed, aperture, proper exposure, wide-angle lens)  When you master one, move on to  another topic.  Read magazines, books and photo blog posts, study Internet tutorials, listen to a podcast, look at photo books.  You will learn by studying what more experienced photographers have to say and trying their techniques.

7. Break the Rules.  One great advantage of a digital camera is it costs nothing to experiment.  Play around, try new things.  You will probably find something you like and you will get a lot of practice in the process.

8. Experiment with camera settings.  A point and shoot camera provides more options than you think and all the options of a DSLR can keep you occupied for weeks.  Read the manual.  Shoot your subjects with multiple settings to see what effects you like.  Take notes and check the EXIF data to see the camera settings you used.

9. Get closer, lower, higher, up earlier and turnaround…  One problem common to almost all beginning photographers is not getting close enough to the subject.  After taking an overall shot of the scene, move in.  Shoot subjects (especially kids) at eye level.  Then move left and right, up and down to see how the change in perspective changes your photo.  When taking pictures of the sunset (or any other picture) turnaround.  You may be surprised by the photo opportunity right behind you.  Opportunities abound the hour after sunset and the hour before sunrise.  Don’t put your camera away when it starts to get dark.  Stay out longer, get up earlier, get closer and turnaround.  (And when it does get too dark, go indoors and take photographs indoors.)

10. Make a list of shots you’d like to take.  For the times you can’t carry your camera around, keep a small notebook  (Or my personal favorite, 3×5 cards.) and jot down places you’d like to come back and photograph. Note important details so you can return at the same time or when the weather’s right. You can also take a picture with your phone camera and email yourself the details.

11. Don’t buy expensive equipment right away.  Very nice photos can be taken with inexpensive cameras.  Don’t rush out and spend money on expensive equipment until you know the limits of the gear you have.  Buy one piece of gear at a time.  For example, use on lens or lens setting until you have shot photos from every angle, in every type of light and know all  you can about that lens.  The temptation to buy something more will be almost overwhelming, but fight it as best you can.  The more pictures you take and experiment with your equipment, the better you will know what your next piece of gear really needs to be.  And you will save a lot of money in the long run.  I speak from experience…

12. Tripods make a huge impact.  An inexpensive tripod or even a bag of navy beans wrapped in duct tape can steady your shots.  To avoid camera shake as you push the shutter button, use the camera 2 (or 10) second timer function with a tripod.  (Tip within a tip:  Keep your tripod in your car.  You will know where it is and won’t have to remember to pack it when you travel.)

December 24, 2011

The King’s Speech

There are only one or two television shows that we have been watching with any consistency this fall.  That means we have been getting full use of our Netflix account, with DVDs in the mail and Internet streaming.  Last night we watched the biographical, drama The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and directed by Tom Hooper.  The 2010 movie was nominated for twelve Academy Awards and won four.  Forty-six other organizations such as the Golden Globes, the British Independent Film Award and the Directors Guild of America, nominated the movie for ninety-six additional awards.  The cast and crew took home awards for sixty-eight of the nominations.

The movie tells the tale of the Duke of York, played by Colin Firth, and his effort to rid himself of chronic stammering he has suffered since the age of five.  The Prince hoped for a life of obscurity as the second in line to be King of England.  He was, however, made King, when his older brother David abdicates the throne in 1936 to marry an American divorcee.  The new King George VI and his speech difficulties are thrust into the limelight by the onset of World War II and a new device called radio.  The King is aided by the unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue, played with style by Rush.

If you have seen the movie you know it is a great story of triumph over adversity.  If you haven’t seen it, it is worth renting.  The movie is 118 minutes long and rated “R” for a couple short scenes with raunchy language used as part of the therapy.

As I watched it the second time, I couldn’t help but notice actors placed in scenes using the compositional “rule of thirds.”  Performers were often “framed” by a room entryway or a hallway.  There was also good use of “lines” to draw the viewer’s eye to the actor delivering dialog, especially in scenes before the coronation in Westminster Abbey.  But what intrigued me the most was the speech therapist’s office wall and the wallpaper in his home.  Many scenes were blocked using the two walls as background and a great example of “patterns.”

In his new book Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light, freelance photographer, podcaster and now author; Ibarionex Perello identifies what he calls the Five Visual Draws.  “What people notice in a photograph is largely controlled by five factors.” Perello writes.  “Brightness.  Contrast.  Saturation.  Sharpness.  Pattern.  Each of these qualities influence where a viewer looks.”

“Pattern serves as a strong visual draw, which makes it an important element not only for controlling the viewer experience but also for the subject matter of a photograph.”  Perello goes on to state that a visual rhythm in a photograph is created by repeating lines, shapes, colors and textures.  The rhythm works whether the pattern is the main focus or the secondary element of a photograph.

Since reading Chasing the Light, I have been thinking more about “patterns.”  I try to work “patterns” into the images when I can and look for them around me.  As I watched The King’s Speech for the second time, the background patterns in the movie -that I didn’t see when I watched the movie in a theater- jumped out at me.  Sure, I look for brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness in my photos.  I also search backgrounds for leading lines, ways to use the rule of thirds and wonder if my image would benefit if I framed a shot differently.  But now I have this pattern thing is stuck in my head too.

If I remember what Ibarionex Perello wrote and keep in mind the value of repeating line, shapes, colors and textures as try to pull together a good shot, I think my photography will get better.  And so, I recommend this movie, not only as great film and story, but also as an aid to photographers looking for ways to enhance their visual style.

December 19, 2011

Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms O-P-Q-R

This Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms (A through Z) was originally compiled as a handout for the basic digital photography class I teach.  As shown in this photo blog it is a “living document” laid out in six blog postings.  The definitions will be expanded, updated and upgraded as needed.  Feel free to suggest additional terms for the list.

Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms O-P-Q-R



Orientation Sensor  A sensor that knows when you turn the camera to take a vertical shot and rotates the picture so it won’t be displayed on its side when you view it.

Orphan work  An original work that is protected by copyright but whose copyright owner cannot be identified and/or located, because the work (or subsequent transfer of rights) wasn’t registered with the Copyright Office, or because the copyright owner has died and the heirs are unknown.  Reproduction and other uses of such works carry the risk of a copyright infringement claim.

Overexposure  An image that appears too light because too much light reached the sensor.

Online gallery  Internet sharing services that allow you to post your images to the Web.

Optical Viewfinder  A glass-covered opening in your camera you look through to frame and compose your image.

Optical Zoom  A traditional zoom lens where lenses move back and forth to visually bring the subject closer to you or farther from you.  Optical zoom indicates the camera has a multi-focal length lens, as opposed to a digital zoom that magnifies the center portion of the picture.



Parallax Error  The difference in views between the lens taking the photo and the external optical viewfinder.

Patent  A government grant that generally protects an invention from being copied, used, distributed, or sold without the permission of its owner.

Photon  A particle of light.

Pinhole camera  A camera whose lens is covered except for a pin-sized hole.  A pinhole is essentially a very small aperture, so you have to shoot long exposures.

Piracy  The unauthorized copying of copyrighted material, most often used to describe the unauthorized copying of CDs, DVDs, and software.

Pixel  Short for picture element. The basic building block of every image.

Plagiarism  Reproducing any portion of a copyrighted work without permission. See also academic plagiarism.

Point-and-Shoot  A type of digital camera that has automatic settings for most features (such as focus and exposure).

Polarizer  Camera filter that reduces the glare bouncing off shiny surfaces in your photos.  Will also deepen the contrast of the sky from certain angles.  Digital cameras require a circular polarizer.

Portrait Mode  The orientation of an image in which the longest dimension is vertical, also called tall orientation.

PPI  Stands for pixels per inch. Used to state image print resolution. Measured in terms of the number of pixels per linear inch. A higher ppi usually translates to better-looking printed images.

Print Resolution  The number of pixels per linear inch (ppi) in a printed photo; the user sets this value inside a photo-editing program.

Proprietary Format  Also called native format. The format used by only that particular type of camera.  Example: Memory Stick memory card is a proprietary format of Sony cameras.

Public domain  A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if the term of its copyright protection has expired or if it does not meet the requirements for copyright protection (for example, while the design of a calendar can be copyrighted, the content itself cannot).  Works in the public domain may be used freely.


RAM  (Random Access Memory)  A computer’s system working memory.

Rear Curtain Sync  An electronic flash synchronization technique in which the flash fires only when the second (rear) curtain of the focal plane shutter begins to move at the end of the exposure.

Red Eye  An effect caused by in-camera flash photography that appears to make a person eyes glow red.  (Animal eyes will appear red or green.)   Caused by light bouncing from the retina of the eye.

Resolution  A term used to describe the capabilities of digital cameras, scanners, printers, and monitors; means different things depending on the device.

RGB  The standard color model for digital images; all colors are created by mixing red, green, and blue light.

Rule of Thirds  A way of mentally dividing your picture horizontally and vertically into thirds, then placing important subject matter where these lines intersect.

December 15, 2011


Glossary of Digital Photography Terms: K – L – M – N

This Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms (A through Z) was originally compiled as a handout for the basic digital photography class I teach.  As shown in this photo blog it is a “living document” laid out in six blog postings.  The definitions will be expanded, updated and upgraded as needed.  Feel free to suggest additional terms for the list.

Landscape Mode  The orientation of an image in which the longest dimension is horizontal.

LCD Screen (Liquid Crystal Display)  The type of display screen on the back of most digital cameras.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)  The colored indicator lights used on most cameras, power supplies and electronic devices.

Lens  One or more elements of optical glass or plastic that collects and focuses light rays to form a sharp image on the digital sensor.

Lithium-Ion  A type of rechargeable battery that was originally developed for use with camcorders, and is now used as a power source for many digital still cameras.

License  A legal agreement granting permission to use a work for certain purposes or under certain conditions. Cartoon and film characters, for example, can be used on merchandise (and in some classroom applications) only through a license granted by the copyright owner for that specific purpose.

Lossless  Refers to storing an image in a non-compressed format, such as TIFF.


Macro Mode   See Close Focus Mode.

Matrix Metering  Also called multi-zone metering. A metering mode that calculates exposure based on the entire frame.

Megapixel One million pixels.

Memory Card  Most digital cameras do not have on-board storage capacity.  To store images you need a memory card.  Memory cards are available in several types, Secure Digital (SD), Compact Flash (CF), Memory Stick (MS), SmartMedia (SM) and more.  The memory card or cards for your camera is determined by what digital camera you buy.  The cards are physically different and are not interchangeable.  Memory cards capacity ranges from 1 to 32 gigabytes and larger.  Ideally you want the largest capacity and highest speed memory card that works with your camera.  Of course, the price of a memory card increases with increased memory and speed.  Format new memory cards in the camera before use.  Re-format the card to remove images after your images have been securely saved on your computer.

Metadata  Extra data that gets stored along with the primary image data in an image file. Metadata often includes information such as aperture, shutter speed, and EV setting used to capture the picture, and can be viewed using special software. Often referred to as EXIF metadata.

Metering Mode  Refers to the way a camera’s auto exposure mechanism reads the light in a scene.

Monopod  A one-legged support used to steady the camera.

Multi-Zone Metering  See Matrix Metering.


Noise  Graininess in an image, caused by too little light, a too high ISO setting, or a defect in the electrical signal generated during the image-capture process.

December 1, 2011


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