No matter where you are in your photography journey or what gear you’re using, we’ve rounded up the 15 most common photography terms you’ll need to know so that you can advance your craft.
Basic Photography Terms
Aperture: The part of the camera that opens to let light in. It is measured in F-Stops (see below).
Focal Length: The distance (in millimeters) between the optical center of a camera lens and the camera/image sensor.
F-Stop: Refers to the size of the aperture opening. It controls both the exposure and depth of field of an image. The lower the F-stop number, the smaller the lens opening (aka the less light there is coming into the camera). This gives your image a shallow depth of field where the background is blurred out. Likewise, with a higher the F-stop number, the larger the lens opening (the more light coming into the camera), and everything will be in focus.
ISO: Also known as film speed. The number indicates how quickly a camera sensor absorbs light. Lower ISO settings (such as 100, 200, 400) are great for capturing crisper photos, where this is a lot of light present. Comparably, a higher ISO (ex. 800 and up) is best for when there is little light present.
Shutter Speed: This refers to how long light is allowed into the camera, how long the shutter is open, or how fast the camera records the image. Low shutter speed is perfect for nighttime photography while faster shutter speeds are perfect for capturing quick moving subjects.
Overexposure: When a photo is overly bright because too much light was let into the camera sensor.
Underexposure: When a photo is dark and dim because too little light was let into the camera sensor.
Vignetting: Reducing the brightness along the borders of an image, most popularly seen in vintage photographs.
White balance: You want to avoid your whites looking too blue or too yellow because of the temperature of the light. By adjusting the white balance, you’ll ensure that white looks white and all other colors look natural and accurate as well.
Techniques and Other Terms
Aspect Ratio: The ratio of a photo’s width and height. Common aspect ratios are 3:2 and 4:3 but can also include 4:5, 16:9, etc. iPhones usually take pictures with an aspect ratio of 4:3.
Bokeh: This is a Japanese word that means haze or blur. It refers to the intentional blurring of the background in a photo.
Composition: The way different elements of a photo are arranged within the frame.
Depth of Field: This refers to the distance between the closest and farthest in-focus subjects in a photo. A shallow depth of field is perfect for photos, such as portraits. This creates a completely in-focus subject with a blurred background. A deep depth of field means that everything in the photograph are in focus.
Dynamic Range: This refers to the range and difference of the darkest and lightest tones that a camera is capable of capturing.
Exposure Triangle: The secret sauce behind every perfectly exposed photograph. It is the combination of the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed all working together in alignment.
Now that you know the basics, let’s get to the fun part – editing!
Whether you’re looking for an aesthetic that’s bright and clean or dark and moody, we’ve got something for you.
Check out our high-quality and easy-to-use Lightroom presets that’ll transform your photos in just one click. Every preset collection comes with a step-by-step instructions guide. It details (with screenshots) how to download and install your preset files. So, even if you’re a newbie to all things photography and editing, you’ll be feeling like a pro in no time.
Hero image edited using the Sunsets collection.