Daily Archives: December 15, 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


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