Top 10 photography terms for beginners
For a beginner who enters the world of photography, there is really a lot to learn. Understand the notions behind this discipline is essential.
Here you will find a list of ten photographic terms that you must know in order to create a solid base from which to start and consolidate your knowledge.
The exposure represents the amount of light entering the sensor. In simple terms: how much light or dark the image will be. It is controlled by three values, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and measured in “stop” or EV. Getting the right exposure is one of the most difficult learning phases for a beginner.
2. Focal length
The focal length is the distance between the optical center of the lens and the sensor when the subject is in focus. It is measured in millimeters.
There are different kinds of usage depending on the focal length of your lens:
10-24 mm, Ultra Wide Angle (architecture, interiors)
24-35 mm, Wide Angle (landscapes)
35-70 mm, Standard (most of the situations)
70-300 mm, Telephoto (portraits, fauna, sports)
300-600 mm, Super Telephoto (long distance subjects, birds)
This term refers to the opening of a mechanical part of the lens called the diaphragm, which controls the amount of light entering the sensor. It affects the depth of field and is measured in “f-stop”.
A wide aperture (such as 1.2 or 2.8) helps to get more light in, a brighter image and a shorter depth of field. With a closed aperture (like 22) less light will enter, the depth of field will be greater and the image, in general, will be sharper.
4. Depth of field (DoF)
The depth of field is defined as the part of the image that our eyes appreciate as sharp, in focus. With a short depth of field, you can give more importance to a portrait or highlight a detail, blurring the background. If you’re photographing a landscape instead, you’ll need more depth of field, because every detail of the image must be sharp.
The depth of field is influenced by three factors:
The distance between the camera and the subject to be photographed
As described in the previous paragraph, with a wider aperture a shorter depth of field can be obtained, the result is the opposite with a closed aperture. If the focal length is longer, a shorter depth of field is obtained, for example by using a telephoto lens. The distance between the camera and the subject to be photographed is also an element to take in count. The closer we are to the subject, the shorter the depth of field and vice versa.
The composition of an image is one of the most important aspects of photography. It is essential to study and understand the rules of composition, like the “Rule of Thirds“, train the mind and eyes, understand what is better to include or not in a scene to find a balance between the elements. More creative we are, better the result will be!
6. Shutter speed
The shutter speed determines how long the sensor is exposed to light. The shutter is a mechanical part located inside the camera body, opposite the sensor. In general, we can choose whether to block a movement with a high speed or give a blurred effect with a low speed.
The ISO represents the sensitivity of the sensor. It is one of the 3 factors that affect exposure, along with aperture and shutter speed. The smaller the number, the lower the sensitivity, and more light will be needed to achieve proper exposure. High ISO values produce a side effect called “noise” or “grain” that decreases image quality.
8. White balance