Category Archives: Photo Class Handouts

Digital Photography Classes Scheduled at Cheboygan Area Public Library

welihan-20160728-lighthouse-crusie-6323These classes introduce newcomers to digital photography and cameras.  It can also be helpful to long-time photographers who want to brush up on their skills.  I hope you will join me at one of these two upcoming programs.

The class will be held at the Cheboygan Area Public Library, 100 S. Bailey St.  Classes start May 2, 2017, each session runs from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM.

There will be four sessions and a separate afternoon or early evening photo shoot.  Each session covers a different area of digital photogr2010-12-04-photo-class-42aphy and is loaded with tips and useful information to improve your photo technique.

Here is a synopsis of the program:

Class #1 Digital Photography Basics – May 2, 2017
As the title states, in this class we explore the basics you need to know about digital cameras and photography. Topics start with photo terminology, digital camera features and functions. Then we explore how the digital sensor, shutter speed, aperture size and light work together to make a photo image. I discuss how color temperature and white balance affect your images; how and when to use auto modes or preset scene modes and the most important items to have in your camera bag. If you have a digital camera, bring it and the instruction manual to class.

Class #2 Photo Composition & Creativity – May 16, 2017
The second class begins with a discussion on six photo characteristics that add visual appeal to your images. Then I show how to place the subject in way that adds additional interest in your photos. Next we discuss how to frame, balance and simplify your images; steady the shot; change camera settings that change the look of your photo and when and where to use flash. We look at some “bad” photos and discuss how to improve them. We look at many more “good” photos to inspire your creativity.  If you want to learn how to create photos that impress your family and friends, this is your class.

_dsc6173Class #3 Camera to Computer – Image Organization and Storage – May 23, 2017
People have told me this is the class they wish they attended before downloading their first images. Why? Because they have no idea where images are stored in their computer and, worst of all, where to find them.  That problem is fixed with this class. You will learn how to move images from camera to computer and how to effectively set up a system for photo storage and retrieval. I discuss why keywords and tags are important and demonstrate an easy-to-use and free photo management program. If you have images in your camera or computer and don’t know what to do next, this class is for you.

Class #4 Presentations, Prints, Smartphone Use and a Friendly Critique – May 30, 2017
I will show how to create photo presentations that can be set to music, photo books for gifts or to display on your coffee table and the best way to make your own prints. (Remember prints?)  It’s said the best camera is the one that’s with you and for most people that is a smartphone.  And while the average person take 150 photos a month with a smartphone, most of those images are just… average.  Learn tips and tricks that improve your smartphone photos.  We end the class with a slide show of images made by class participants. You do not have to submit photos to attend, but it will be more fun if you do.

During the first class, we will schedule an afternoon or early evening photo shoot to be held between the second and fourth classes.  This will give stuedited-in-luminar-08853dents the opportunity to practice newfound techniques. There is no charge for the photo shoot, but you must enroll in the first or second class to attend.

Each digital photography class is limited to twenty students and pre-registration is required  There is a modest cost for each class that is paid to the library.  Attendance at all four classes is not required, but each class builds on information covered in previous classes and so I strongly recommend students attend all four classes.

To register for the Cheboygan library class call:  (231) 627-2381.

Hope to see you there…   Dan


(No) Snow Birds

The sun has been shining and temperatures hovered in the mid-forties for the past few days.  Not bad for December in northern Michigan.  Even so, this late in the year the pickings are sparse, and the birds appreciate the seed we put in the feeders.  I appreciate them stopping by during the day so I can make some images.

So as part of the deal with the birds, I took photos as they pecked at the seed.  I used my 200 – 500mm lens on my Sony A77 (Factoring in the crop factor, I effectively have a 300 – 750mm of lens.) and from the comfort of our kitchen made these shots over the past couple of days.  I adjusted my shutter speed between 1/500 and 1/1000, set the aperture at f11 and (because the birds were fluttering in and out of the sun and shade) set ISO on auto.

Here are handful of the shots I liked.


December 8, 2015

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A “Better” Way to Begin

Amateur Photog Hkbk001I started dabbling in photography in the summer of 1969 when I inherited my grandfather’s 8mm Kodak movie camera.  Later that year I worked at a summer camp where I shot and later edited what I considered to be an entertaining eighteen minute movie of my seven weeks as a camp counselor.  At the end of summer I showed the movie to the camp director, his family and the other counselors.  They liked it too.  That night I loaned the film to a counselor so he could show his family.  He passed it on to still another counselor.  I think the movie then went to the camp director’s family and probably after that to another counselor.   With time I forgot who had it.  I never saw the movie again and that was pretty much the end of my cinematographic endeavors.

In the Fall when I returned college, I took with me the Fujica Compact Deluxe 35mm camera I had also inherited.  I enrolled in my first photography class and learned how to hold a camera, make a decent exposure, develop Tri-X film and make a print.  I was hooked… And since then I have never been far from a 35mm camera or the digital equivalent.

Browsing my local library in the early 70’s, I discovered The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook by Aaron Sussman.  There weren’t many books available for beginning photographers back then, so I checked it out and started reading.  The book offered detailed answers on film types, metering, filters, when to use flash, how to take candid people pictures, developing film, dodging and burning prints and much more.  Two months and several library renewals later I finished it.  At 562 pages, the book was not an easy read, but in its day an important book for any young photographer.  First printed in 1941, The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook was in continuous publication for over forty years.  In 1976 I was given a copy and since then have reread and browsed many time through my tabbed, yellow-highlighted and dog-eared copy.

I have an eighteen year old grand-daughter who shows a lot of interest in digital photography, but I’m not giving her a copy of the old book.  Now out of print for around twenty-five years, it is still a classic, but too long, too detailed and has too few photographs for a beginner.  I don’t want to scare Elizabeth away while she’s still in the early stage of her photo development (No pun intended.)

Instead, I gave her a copy of BetterPhoto Basics – The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro by Jim Miotke (published by Amphoto Books).

Over the years, I have read dozens and dozens of photography books.  BetterPhoto Basics tops my list of books for beginners eager to learn camera and photography basics.  Each topic (such as capturing a sunset, preventing red-eye, how to crop for impBetterPhoto Basics 002act and much more) is covered in one or two pages.  Explanations are well-written and there are colorful example photos on almost every page.  Author, Jim Miotke, also points out if a technique works best with point & shoot cameras, digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras or both.

If there were a required text-book for the digital photography classes I teach, this would be the one.  It is a terrific learning tool, good for beginners and for old-dog photographers who need to be reminded every so often why the basics are so important.

That’s why I bought two copies; one for my grand-daughter and one for me.

January 28, 2013

RAW vs. JPEG… That is the Question

Over the past ten years or so in the short life of digital photography, the most nagging question in any group of professional or amateur photographers has to have been, “What format should I use, RAW or JPEG?”  The question for professional photographers has been answered.  In almost every instance RAW won.  RAW format saves all the digital information for each image in a raw, unedited form that provides the photographer with the photo data needed for professional photo work.

In the world of amateur photographers, many use RAW, many are happy with JPEG and a lot are wondering what to do.  So how does a photographer make up their mind?  Here is some basic information.

RAW (The name stands for “raw” file.) Almost every camera manufacturer has their own RAW software that comes with the camera.  Nikon’s proprietary software does not work with Canon or Sony.  Canon’s doesn’t work with Nikon and Sony and so on.  RAW files are the unaltered data captured by the camera and can be thought of as digital film before processing.  All RAW files need post-production.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format processes and compresses image data, in camera, to a smaller file size.  A smaller file size means it takes up less space on your memory card and hard drive, but also stores less data of each image.  How much less depends on the compression and quality settings that are determined in camera by the photographer.  File compression is nice, but file quality is sacrificed in the process.

Here is a list of RAW and JPEG pros and cons.

RAW format

  • RAW files are called “lossless” files.  All image information is held without sacrificing image quality.
  • Lossless is good if you want or need all that information to work with in post-production.
  • Because RAW files do not compress, each image file takes more space on the camera memory and computer hard drive.
  • RAW software saves the original image file and is never altered, so that even after the file is processed, the original file is preserved and available for additional processing.
  • Processing RAW files takes some additional time in post-processing.  However, new software such as Lightroom 3 that uses non-proprietary Adobe Camera RAW makes the conversion almost automatic.
  • Whether using your camera’s proprietary RAW software or if you use the Adobe Camera RAW converter software (that works with almost all cameras),you will need a relatively new, high-speed computer with at least 2 gigabytes (4 is better, 8 or more is best) of RAM to process you images smoothly as well as a large (500 – 1500 gigabyte) hard drive for image storage.

JPEG format

  • JPEGs are “lossy” files.  Each time the file opened and saved again, data is additionally compressed and lost.  The result of many opening and resaving files leads to loss of image quality (saturation, resolution, sharpness).
  • JPEG compressed files take less space on your camera memory card and computer hard drive.
  • The JPEG file format has been adopted as an industry standard.  It is pre-loaded in almost all digital cameras and easy to use.
  • JPEGs are compatible with all image editing programs (Picasa, Lightroom, Aperture, GIMP…).
  • No additional post production is required, but you always can.
  • JPEG files are based on the camera settings (white balance, exposure, and others) at the time you press the shutter.  (New post-production programs provide some leeway to adjust an image, but not as much as a RAW file.)
  • JPEGs can be saved at several sizes to save space on memory cards and hard drives.  Because large capacity memory cards that fit most cameras are now available and at prices that drop almost monthly, saving JPEGs at a less than large size less of a concern.
  • Images can be resized smaller if needed.
  • Upsizing a JPEG image often results in a degraded photo.  Third party software is available, but can be expensive.
  • Image “noise” (a grainy look) is more likely in prints made from a JPEG file.  (Software like Lightroom 3 and Picasa 3 do a much improved job of reducing noise in post-production.)
  • Cameras that support RAW can be set to save a JPEG image at the same time so that you have both files.

So, what works best for you?  If you aren’t sure start by asking yourself these three questions:

1)       How will I use the images?  (Large prints think RAW.  Small prints, images viewed on your computer or website, then JPEG will do.)

2)      How much time do I want to spend working on the computer? (RAW requires some additional time, but is getting easier with each generation images processing software.)

3)      Will my computer handle a lot of post-production processing?  (If you don’t have a fast processor with at least 2 GB of RAM and a large hard drive, then stick with JPEG until you can upgrade your computer.)

The secret here is to experiment.  If you are like a lot of photographers there will be times when you shoot RAW and others when JPEG works just fine.  The best thing is you can switch from JPEG to RAW in camera with every image you shoot.  So give them both a try.

February 7, 2012

Digital Photo Tips & Tricks

Digital Photo Tips & Tricks

Start your day or photo shoot with freshly batteries.  Check cameras, flash units and anything else in your camera bag that needs batteries.  Recharge the rechargeable batteries.  Pack the charger?  Replace and/or have a fresh set of batteries for the disposables.

Check camera settings – Before you walk out the door, set the ISO, WB for JPEG shooters and exposure mode (shutter or aperture priority, AUTO, whatever).  Load memory cards into camera.  Extra reformatted memory cards are stored where you can find them quickly.  DSLR owners have the lens you want to use first attached to the camera.  When you are prepared before you step out the door, you are ready for that great shot that pops up when you least expect it.

Always use the camera neck or wrist strap.  Using a neck or wrist strap is one of the best habits you can get yourself into.  You are going to drop a camera some day, generally at the worst possible time.  Require your family and friends who use your gear to do it too.

Learn what the camera icons do.  All digital cameras have icons that adjust camera settings.  Point and shoot cameras more than most folk may ever need.  It is best to know what they do and how they affect you image.  Practice before you need it.

Check the date and time on your camera settings.  The date and time doesn’t have to show on your photo, but you do want the correct date and time embedded in you metadata.  Correct date and time helps you organize, locate, and identify your images later.  It will also help you twenty years later when you are trying to remember when the photo was taken.  Check after daylight savings time springs forward or falls back to see if the time changed automatically.  Some cameras do, some don’t.

Keep camera steady – Hold the camera in your right hand, support the camera or lens with your left hand. Don’t block the flash, autofocus port or lens.  Lean against something solid, hold your breath, and shoot between heartbeats (This last one takes a bit of practice.).

Shutter buttons have two stages.  Press the button halfway down and the camera sets focus and exposure. Press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.

Viewfinder – If your camera has a viewfinder and the image appears blurry, adjust diopter.  Viewfinder focus does not focus the camera.  Viewfinder image size is often different than what the sensor on the camera records.  Lenses zoom in and out, the viewfinder does not.

Images are first stored in the camera’s internal memory (“buffer”).  If you are shooting fast and the buffer fills, the camera stops shooting until one or more of the images are transferred to the memory card.

Don’t remove the battery or memory card from the camera while saving an image. You could scramble some of the images being saved and/or damage the card.

If the camera is turned off while an image is being stored, the image will be completely stored before the camera powers down and does not harm your images.

Images can be displayed on the LCD monitor after each shot.  Take a look and assess composition and exposure.  It is called “chimping,” but a good way to learn how your camera settings work.  Turn the LCD viewer off to save battery life.

Shoot a lot of shots of a subject, especially when learning new equipment.  The change of position, distance and angle gives you a whole new perspective.  You may be surprised by what works. (And what doesn’t)

White Balance (WB) – Be sure to set the white balance when shooting JPEG images.   RAW shooter set the WB in post-processing.  Of course experimenting with the “wrong” WB will give you some unique looks that might be fun.   Auto (the default) works in a wide variety of lighting conditions.   Daylight is best when photographing outdoors in bright sunlight.   Cloudy is best when photographing outdoors in cloudy or overcast conditions.  The setting will also warm images taken anytime indoors or out.   Incandescent or tungsten is best when photographing indoors under incandescent lights.   Fluorescent is best when photographing indoors under fluorescent tube lights.   Fluorescent H is best when photographing indoors under the new fluorescent light bulbs.    Flash best when photographing with flash. It is daylight balanced works to remove color casts in some situations.

 Trick your point and shoot camera to do what you want – Point and shoot cameras work well in Auto mode much of the time.  P&S cameras also have preset modes for portraits, scenery and fast-moving kids.  When you know what the modes do, you can use the presets for different types of photos.  Here is what you need to know.   Need shallow depth of field shoot in Portrait mode.  The mode sets a wider aperture.   Need a more depth of field shoot in Landscape mode.  Landscape mode sets the camera to a small aperture.   Need a fast shutter speed choose ‘Sports’ mode.  This mode will freeze most fast-moving subjects.   Need a slow shutter speed  Try night mode (if your camera has it) but this mode generally fires the flash.

 When done shooting, turn camera off.  Every effort saves little battery life.

Check to see if batteries need replacing or charging.  At the end of the day or before you pack your gear away, check to see if you need to recharge or purchase more batteries.  Don’t leave this important task until to the last-minute and you are less likely to miss the first shot tomorrow.

January 19, 2012

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

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


Glossary of Digital Photography Terms: G – H – I – J

This Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms (A through Z) was originally compiled as a handout for the basic digital photography class I teach.  As posted 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.  Email me at: .

Gray Card  A card that reflects back 18% of the light hitting the card surface.  Digital camera light meters are calculated for 18% reflectance.

Histogram  A visual representation of the exposure values of a digital image. Histograms are shown in graph form and display the light values of the image’s shadows, mid-tones, and highlights as vertical peaks and valleys along a horizontal plane.

Hot Shoe  The device on a camera that holds an external flash or provides the cable connection from flash to the camera.


Image Sensor  A digital camera’s solid-state capture device, made up of a grid-like arrangement of red-, green-, and blue-sensitive elements.

Image Stabilization  An optical or digital system for removing or reducing camera movement.

Intellectual property  Any product of a creative mind that is fixed in a tangible form of expression and, thus, is thereafter protected by patent, copyright, or trademark laws.

ISO (International Standards Organization)  The ISO setting on a camera determines how sensitive the camera sensor is to light.  A low setting such as 100 is used in a bright situation where the camera needs to be less sensitive to light.  In contrast, a high ISO such as 800 or higher 1600 is low-light situations to make the camera more sensitive to the available light.  ISO is equivalent to ASA.

AUTO ISO – digital camera automatically sets the ISO speed according the brightness of the scene, increasing or decreasing the sensitivity.  Photographer has no control over which ISO number is used.

ISO 80 – When taking photos in bright light; excellent for close-ups, landscape, and portraits. Produces fine detail and image quality.

ISO 100 – Extra sensitivity with little, if any, reduced image quality.

ISO 200 – Acceptable image quality, with some visible noise.  Good for cloudy and overcast days.

ISO 400 – suitable for indoor photography whether or not a flash is used. Useful for “stop-action” and sports photographs.

ISO 800, 1600 and above – useful in very low light, or outside in good light when increased shutter speeds are required. Results can be disappointing when shooting at these high numbers with compact digital cameras, so take test photos before photographing an important event.


JPEG (Pronounced jay-peg)   Joint Photographic Experts Group :  The primary file format used by digital cameras; also the leading format for online and Web pictures.

JPEG+Raw  A camera setting that creates both a Camera Raw file and a JPEG file of a picture.

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