Kirk Chamberlain Studio - photographer - Jacksonville Florida | 904) 786-0687

Glossary of Photographic Terms


Ambient Light - the available light completely surrounding a subject that is not introduced artificially.

Aperture - the opening in a camera lens through which light passes; measured in f-stops.

Background - the area behind the subject

Background Illumination - light that illuminates the background.

Bit - short for binary digit, which in a computer is the smallest unit of storage.

Brightness - the amount of light and dark areas in an image.

Byte - short for binary term; a collection of computer bits; on many modern computers, a byte is equal to eight bits.

Cast - See Color Balance, Color Cast & Color Correction

Color Balance - how a color film reproduces the colors of a scene; using the wrong lighting can cause the colors to appear washed out or unnatural.

Color Cast - the overall bias towards one color in a color image.

Color Correction - applying filters which help balance the color rendition of a scene to match the color response of the eye

Composition - the content and organization of the image that is being captured for the photograph.

Continuous-Tone - refers to an image where like colors in the subject and scene do not change abruptly; the opposite of posterization.

Contrast - the range of difference in the light to dark areas of an image.

Diffuse Lighting - lighting that is low or moderate in contrast, such as on an overcast day.

Dot - the smallest element that can be printed by a digital printer.

Exposure - in photographic terms is the product of the intensity of light and the time the light is allowed to act on the film, or digital camera sensor. In practical terms, the aperture controls intensity or amount of light and shutter speed controls the time.

File Size - the size of an image in digital photography, measured in kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB). File size is proportional to its pixel dimensions; images with more pixels may produce more detail at a given printed size, but they require more disk space to store and are slower to print.

Film - photographic emulsion coated on a flexible, transparent base that records images or scenes.

Film Speed - the sensitivity of a film to light, indicated by a number such as ISO 100. The higher the number, the more sensitive or faster the film. (ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization)

Filter - colored piece of glass or other transparent material used over the lens to emphasize, eliminate, or change the color of the entire scene or certain areas within a scene.

Focal Length - the distance between the film and the optical center of the lens when the lens is focused on infinity. The focal length of the lens on most adjustable cameras is marked in millimeters on the lens mount.

Focus - the adjustment of the distance setting on a lens to define the subject sharply.

Focus Range - the range within which a camera is able to focus on the selected subject; i.e., from 4 feet to infinity.

Foreground - the area between the camera and the principal subject.

Graininess - the sand-like or granular appearance of an image. Graininess becomes more pronounced with faster film and the degree of enlargement. In digital imaging, graininess may occur as a result of printing an image, the pixel resolution of which is too coarse, or as a result of using a printer with poor dot resolution.

Grayscale - term used to describe an image that only contains shades of gray

Hue - the attribute of colors that allows them to be designated as red, green, blue, or any intermediate combination of these colors.

Lens - one or more pieces of optical glass or similar material designed to collect and focus rays of light to form a sharp image on the film or digital camera sensor.

Natural Expression - The subject's expression should be natural, with both eyes open. Please refer to the photographs found on this website for acceptable facial expressions.

Negative - the developed film that contains a reversed tone image of the original scene.

Neutral Gray Card - a gray test card without any hue, typically of 18% reflectance.

Neutral White Card - a white test card without any hue, typically of 90% reflectance.

Over-exposure - refers to a condition where too much light reaches the film or digital camera sensor, either because it is too bright or has been applied too long, resulting in a very light photograph.

PPI - short for pixels per inch; the measurement of resolution for displaying or printing digital images.

Pixel - short for picture element; a single picture element of a digital photo or displayed image. Taken together, all of the millions of pixels form a grid that represents the content of the image.

Pixelization - the graininess in an image that results when the pixels are too big, relative to the size of the image.

Positive - the opposite of a negative, an image with the same tonal relationships as those in the original scenes, for example, a finished print.

Posterization - the effect produced when a photographic image is displayed or printed with too few colors or shades of gray; the opposite of continuous-tone.

Print - refers to an exposed film picture that is printed on photographic paper, in color or black and white.

Printing - producing the final photo of the captured image which should enable fine facial features to be discernable, whether the print results from conventional photographic processes or digital printout. The resulting print should exhibit a continuous-tone quality regardless of the print method used.

Proper Lighting - the type and position of lighting for both the subject and background so that the subject is clearly illuminated with no shadows on the face or the background.

RGB - the way that the colors are recorded in digital imaging. A large percentage of the visible spectrum can be represented by mixing red, green and blue (RGB) colored light in various proportions and intensities.

Reflectance - the light intensity emitted from a surface in a given direction.

Resolution - refers to a measure of the detail that can be seen in an image; the higher the resolution, the finer the detail that can be seen.

sRGB - refers to a standard default RGB color space. This is a device-independent color space designed to remove any color-bias from the representation of an image on the specified device.

Sharpness - refers to whether an image appears to be in focus.

Subject Pose - the subject's head, face and shoulders which should be oriented

Subject Positioning - the position of the subject with respect to the camera

Tone - refers to the degree of lightness or darkness in any given area of a photo.

Under-exposure - refers to a condition where too little light reaches the film or digital camera sensor, either because the light is not sufficient or it hasn't been applied long enough; it results in a very dark photograph.

Kirk Chamberlain    Email     (904) 781- 2900
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Photography by Kirk Chamberlain Studio - Jacksonville Florida