MQC Photo Costa Rica
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Photo Glossary


Adobe RGB.
Color space created by the company Adobe at the end of 1990’s when the software Photoshop finally allowed full control over the colors used in digital files. It has much more tonal information of the colors, documenting more detail of degradation of tones that are contained in reflected light.
Advanced Point-and-Shoot Cameras.
a more sophisticated model of a point-and-shoot camera that allows full control over the exposure.
Aperture of the Diaphragm.
Different openings of the circular curtain in the lens that allows different amounts of light to enter the camera.
Aperture Priority.
A Shooting Mode where the photographer manually selects the aperture (f), the exposure compensation and the ISO. The camera will choose the shutter speed accordingly. It is a pre-program mode but it allows changes.
Auto Focus.
Moves the focus ring automatically to focus.
Auto White Balance (AWB).
The camera will analyze the light and try to determine the light temperature and then apply the balance that it needs so the object will have the right coloration.


A function that leaves the shutter open for as long as the shutter release is pressed, allowing the camera to expose the photosensitive material for longer than 30 seconds.
A shooting mode that will allow the photographer to take three photographs in a row with three different exposure compensations.


Center Weighted.
An exposure mode where the exposure meter prioritizes the measurement of the light coming from the center of the framed area.
Cloudy (WB).
A White Balance preset mode. This is a slightly “cold” kind of light. Without correction, the image will look blueish. The camera will correct this coloration by adding red.
Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. It is a color model known as the subtractive model and it’s the one used for printing. It is called subtractive because the sum of Cian, Magenta and Yellow in equal proportions generates black.
Cold Colors.
these are the colors that are closer to the blue hue. It will be any other color that has a lot of blue on it or the blue itself. These colors appear less welcoming; they seem more passive and weak.
Color Space.
It’s the mathematical procedure that uses the camera’s computer to transform the color information contained in light into numbers (ones and zeros) into a universal language. There are two color space models.
Custom White Balance (WB).
With this setting the photographer is capable of adjusting the white balance from a sample of white. First one must take a photograph of something white under the specific lighting conditions that will be used. Then, on a specific process for each camera, the photographer shows the camera what photograph it should work with and then the camera analyzes it and sets the temperature. It is very useful when working with many different kinds of light.


Daylight (WB).
This kind of light has no color predominance, it is a well balanced white light. But, because it can be a very hard light (direct and very contrasted) it reduces the saturation of the colors. When using this WB, one is not correcting a coloration on the light, but the saturation of the colors.
Depth of field.
is the distance between the first and the last plane in the photograph that are clear and sharp.
The part of the lens right at its optical center that works as a circular curtain responsible for letting light pass through the lens and reach the sensor, limiting the size of the beam of light that will enter the camera.
Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, or DSLRs.
This cameras are called this way because everything that is going to be photographed can be seen through the lens. They are built with a mirror located behind the lens that redirects light towards the viewfinder and when the photograph is taken, the mirror raises and the light goes into the sensor.


Electronic Sensor or Chip.
This device consist of millions of pixels (picture element). Each one is capable of transforming the information carried by the light into electronic signals that can be measured and saved.
Evaluative, Average or Matrix.
a mode of measuring the light that averages all the different intensities of light that come from every single part of the area that has been framed by the photographer. This exposure meter mode is called
Exposure Compensation.
Exposure compensation is simply a way to let more or less light when taking the photograph depending on whether the objects’ colors are more towards white or towards black. Exposure compensation is represented by a scale of increments in the values of exposure (EV). This scale consists simply of a numbering of EV that goes as follows: -2, -1, 0, +1, +2.
Exposure Meter.
instrument capable of understanding the strength of light that goes through the lens and then deciding the best combination of the exposure elements (ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed) to get a correctly exposed image.
Exposure Time.
Another name for shutter speed.
Exposure Value.
It is the combination of the values of selected ISO, shutter speed and the aperture that allows the necessary amount of light to reach the photosensitive material to register a neutral gray tone.


Fish Eye Lens.
A lens that has an angle of sight closer to 180°
Fill Flash.
The light coming from the flash is used as a complementing light for natural light. It will fill shadow areas in the scene with light.
It is an instrument capable of creating a light “strobe” for less than a thousandth of a second.
This artificial light can vary its light temperature. Next time you go to a supermarket, check out the fluorescent stand with all the different light temperatures. Traditionally it has been a more yellowish light, so the camera will balance this color by adding some blue to the photograph.
Focal Length.
The perpendicular distance, measured in millimeters, that exists between the optical center of the lens and the photosensitive material (inside the camera body)
Focus Distance.
The distance that exist between the optical center of the lens and the subject that you want to focus.
Focus Ring.
It is the control that allows movement of different glass pieces inside the lens so they can align to focus or make the main subject of the photograph look sharp.
“f stops”.
It is the name for the values of the aperture of the diaphragm.


Graphic representation of the information gathered by each pixel that forms an image. It shows if those pixels are middle toned, highlights or shadows and all the tones in between.


ISO or Sensitivity.
The capacity of the photosensitive material to react with the light and interpret the information contained by it.


A digital extension. It means Joint Photographic Experts Group, and it is the most general digital extension for images.


Kelvin (K).
A unit used for temperature. It is used to establish the temperature of the light and it goes from 0 K (cold very reddish light) to 10000 K (hot very bluish light).


Consists of a group of individual glass plates with convergent and divergent cuts. Together these plates form the optical section of the camera.


Macro Lenses.
Lenses that allow us to focus at a very short distance (a foot or less).
Shutter speed, aperture and ISO are selected manually. The exposure will be set by using the indicator of the exposure value (EV).
1 million pixels.
Minimal Focusing Distance.
The closest you can be to the subject and still be able to focus.


The noise is simply the consequence of warming of some pixels caused by over working of those pixel due to the little amount of light that reaches them. The noise consists of an erroneous or lack of proper documentation of the light, which forces the pixel to make up the information for that particular point. This usually results in fixed coloration like reds, blues or even greens.
Normal Lens.
This lens will be the one that has a focal length with the same length as the diagonal of the sensor. It is the lens that has an angle very similar to the sight of a human eye. This angle of sight could vary between 40 and 65°.
Neutral Gray Tone.
It is a middle point between the total absence of light (black) and the absolute presence of light (white). When the exposure meter in the camera measures the light and determines the correct EV, it is trying to make all the elements that are being photographed look neutral gray.


Partial Metering.
A metering mode that only considers a very small part of the reflected light, usually only 10%.
Picture Element.
Or Pixel, is the smalls element in a digital sensor. Each one is capable of transforming the information carried by the light into electronic signals that can be measured and saved.
A record of the information contained by light that has been reflected off an object at a very specific moment.
This is an instrument capable of measuring the intensity of the reflected light as it enters the camera.
Photosensitive Material.
Or the material that can record light, is the film or the digital sensor.
Point-and-shoot cameras.
Small automatic cameras. Where created mostly for amateur photographers that did not want to deal with too many controls during the capture of a photograph.
Exposure mode where the photographer manually selects ISO and Exposure Compensation. Camera averages Aperture and Shutter Speed. It still allows manual changes.


Digital extensions that will differ depending on the camera manufacturer. For example, .CR2 is Canon’s raw extension and .NEF is Nikon’s raw extension. It is a digital file that archives every single piece of information captured by each pixel in the sensor.
The acronym of a color model based on the primary colors of light: Red, Green y Blue.
Rule of Thirds.
The rule of thirds is a simplified version of the “Golden Rule” of composition, applied to 35mm photography. The rule of thirds states that the rectangular surface of the negatives or images must be divided into three equal parts both horizontally and vertically. Doing this will create four lines and the intersection of these lines create four points. Both the lines and the points are considered “of power”. When the principal subject is placed either on one of the lines of one of the points of power the reading of the image acquires dynamism.


Pre-programmed shooting modes. They are based on the traditional ways of shooting in different photographic genres. They are AUTOMATIC shooting modes!
Sensitivity or ISO.
The ability of the photosensitive material to react with the light and interpret the information contained by it.
Shade (WB).
A White Balance auto mode. The strong shadows that are caused by direct sunlight are usually very “cold” or are a more blueish type of light. The camera will correct this coloration by adding red, making the photograph look more “warm”.
Shutter Speed Priority.
A shooting mode where the photographer manually selects the shutter speed, the exposure compensation and the ISO. The camera will choose the aperture accordingly. It is a pre-program mode but it allows changes.
Shutter Speed.
The opening of a curtain that is located right before the sensor. The shutter opens for a specific amount of time.
Spot Metering Mode.
A Metering mode that only considers a very small portion of the reflected light of the framed image, usually in the center (usually less than 5% of the image).
(s stands for small) is a Color space that contains less quantity of tonal variations in the colors, and it is the space that is closer to the color range that a computer monitor is capable of displaying. This color space is perfect for those images that will only be published on the web or that will only be seen on the computer. Also, for those that will not work extensively in the post-production of the photographs and that will print in a lab that also doesn’t manipulate the photographs too much.


Telephoto Lens.
Lenses with focal lengths longer than 50mm (generally above 85mm).
TTL or Through The Lens.
The reflected light enters the camera through the lens and is measured by the photometer.
Tungsten (WB).
A White Balance preset mode. This type of artificial light has a predominant reddish color. The camera will balance this warmth by adding blue.


Ultra or Super Wide Angle Lens.
Lenses with smaller focal length than 20mm.


White Balance (WB).
Correction of the predominance of certain tonality in the light. With this function we are capable of telling the camera how to balance the different colorations that dominate different sources of light, in order to avoid strange coloration on the subject caused by this characteristic of the light.
Wide Angle Lens.
Lenses with focal length between 35mm and 24mm.


“Zoom” Lens.
These lenses have a mechanism that will allow the photographer to move the optical center of the lens back and forward, consequently changing the focal length.