Blog Archives

Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms: A – B – C

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.  Email me at: .

Angle of View  The amount of a scene that can be recorded by a particular lens. This is determined by the focal length of the lens.

Aperture  The aperture is an adjustable opening in the lens that allows light to enter the camera.  Most digital cameras have an automatic mode that adjusts the camera’s aperture depending on light levels.  The size of the opening is calibrated in f-stop numbers.  The smaller the number the bigger the aperture; the higher the number, the smaller the aperture.

Aperture-Priority Auto-Exposure  A Semi-automatic exposure mode; the photographer sets the aperture, and the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed to produce a good exposure.

Automatic Exposure  A feature where the camera automatically adjusts the aperture or shutter speed or both for the proper exposure.

Automatic Flash  A flash unit with a light-sensitive cell that determines the length of the flash for proper exposure by measuring the light reflected back from the subject.

Auto Focus  A system that automatically focuses the camera lens.

Auto Mode  A digital camera mode where both the aperture and shutter speed are set automatically.

AVCHD  (Advanced Video Coding High Definition)  A format for recording and playing back high-definition video and used in many HD camcorders.
Average Metering – Average metering takes all of the light values for a given scene – highlights, shadows, and mid-tones – and averages them together to establish a good overall exposure. Average metering is best used for front-lit subjects.  Back lit subjects tend to be silhouetted when metered in Average mode.

AWB (Auto White Balance)  An in-camera function that automatically adjusts the white balance of the scene to a neutral setting regardless of the ambient light source.


Back Lit  The subject is heavily lit from behind which generally causes it to be underexposed.

Back Lighting  A lighting effect produced when the main light source is located behind the subject. Backlighting is also a technology for illuminating an LCD display from the rear, making it easier to view under high ambient lighting conditions.

Blinkies  Flashes on the camera LCD screen that indicates over or under exposed areas in the captured image.


Capture  A term used in digital imaging meaning “to photograph”. The term is used to differentiate the method by which the image is made. As the word “photograph” is closely associated to film photography, “capturing” is applied to specify a digital sensor is used.”

Card Reader  See: Memory card reader

CCD (Charge-coupled device) An image sensor that reads the charges from the sensor’s photo sites one row at a time.

Center Weighted  An auto exposure system that uses the center portion of the image to adjust the overall exposure value.

Compact Flash (CF)  A common type of digital camera flash memory storage. There are three types:  CF Type I: the original 5mm high card, CF Type II: cards and devices that are 9mm high and CF Type III: used in double-height slots only.

Continuous Auto Focus  An always-on auto focus system.

Continuous Shooting   A mode available on many digital cameras that allows a burst of shots by holding down the camera shutter button.  Continuous shooting is often used to capture fast-action sporting events and kids running around the yard.

Contrast  A measure of rate of change of brightness in an image.

Copyright  A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States that gives creators exclusive rights to ownership and use of their “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. Copyright is also protected by international agreements.

Copyright infringement The unauthorized copying or use of a work that is protected by copyright.

Copyright notice The copyright notice consists of three elements: the “c” in a circle (©) or the word “copyright”, the year of first publication, and the name of the copyright owner.

Camera Raw  A file format offered by some digital cameras.  Records the image without applying any in-camera processing that is usually done automatically when saving photos in JPEG or other formats. Also known as Raw.

Center-Weighted Metering  Metering mode that reads the entire scene but gives more emphasis to the subject in the center of the frame.

Chimping  A digital photography term used to describe the “Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!” sound made by photographers when checking the camera LCD just after a photo is taken.

Choices  A photographer makes choices more than just the subject when taking a digital photo, they include:

Light – Quantity, Quality, Type;

Point of View – Where to stand;

Field of View – What to include, what to exclude

Camera Configuration – horizontal, vertical or on occasion diagonal.

Circular Polarizer  See” Polarizer

Close Focus Mode   A point and shoot camera mode that allows close focus of objects close to the lens.  It is designated on the back cameras with a flower icon.  Close Focus is not a true macro focus, but is often called “macro.”

CMOS  (Pronounced see-moss, Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor)  A type of Imaging Sensor. CMOS chips are less energy-consuming than CCD Type sensors and are becoming increasingly common in pro DSLRs.

Composition  The arrangement of the main subject, other objects in a scene, and/or the foreground and background.

Contrast  The range of difference in the light to dark areas of a photo.

Crop  To trim an image or page by adjusting its boundaries.

November 11, 2011

Cordwood Point Association

On Beautiful Lake Huron

Why Michigan

A Southern Family in Northern Michigan

A Certain Slant of Light Photography

... the landscape listens, shadows hold their breath

Great Lakescapes

Michigan Nature & Landscape Photoblog by Neil Weaver

Joe McNally's Blog

The Blog of Joe McNally

Michigan in Pictures

Photos of the Great Lakes State