Macro Photography Glossary

Commonly used terminology from A to Z.

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Welcome to our Macro Photography Glossary.

35mm Film – Refers to the 36x 24 mm film format, introduced by Kodak in 1932, known primarily as 35mm.

Adobe – Refers to a software company best known for Photoshop, an image editing software.

AEB – Refers to the abbreviation for Automatic Exposure Bracketing.

Aperture -Refers to the diaphragm within the lens that determines the size of the lens opening. It’s similar to the pupil of an eye.

Aspect Ratio – Refers to the relationship of the width and height of an image.

Auto Exposure – Refers to a feature on many digital cameras that automatically adjusts the shutter speed and aperture to compensate for a low or high light level.

Auto Exposure Bracketing – Refers to a technique in photography in which a series of photos are automatically taken at different exposures, usually with either a shutter-priority, aperture-priority, or manual exposure mode on a camera. The intent is to get a correctly exposed image or a series of photographs covering a wide exposure range.

Auto Focus – Refers to a type of camera lens control that allows the camera to adjust focus automatically.

Backlighting – Refers to the light source projected behind the subject. It can be used to illuminate the foreground and create a sense of depth and drama in an image.

Bayonet Fitting – Refers to a type of photographic lens mount developed by the Leitz company in the mid-1960s. It was a replacement for the older screw mounting system. Also known as the “Leitz Bayonet”.

Bellows – Refers to a lightweight, accordion-like tube that connects to a camera and allows the lens to be mounted far closer to a subject than would be possible otherwise. This enables the picture to be magnified significantly.

Bokeh – Refers to the blurry background, or out-of-focus area, in a photograph. It has been used to describe both the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus regions of photographs as well as the optical properties of the lens used to produce those areas. Bokeh is commonly most visible around small background highlights (such as specular reflections and light sources or small objects). However, it is visible around any part of an image that is not in perfect focus.

Catchlight – Refers to a type of light used in photography that shows in the subject’s eyes and catches the viewer’s attention. It is considered a desirable effect in portrait photography.

CUPOTY – Refers to a photography contest. It stands for Close-up Photographer of the Year.

CCD Chip – Refers to Charge-Coupled Device, an increasingly popular technology in digital cameras. A CCD chip is made up of a two-dimensional array of photodiodes and is paired with a comparator circuit to produce an image. The CCD chip is the main component of a digital camera and is responsible for capturing the image.

Circle of Confusion – Refers to the limit of the image’s sharpness. It is a measure of the blur caused by lens aberrations and is measured in units of millimeters.

Close-up Filter – Refers to an optical filter that is mounted in front of a camera lens to allow for close-up photography. Close-up filters come in two types: threaded and slide-on. Threaded close-up filters may be inserted onto the glass, whereas slip-on close-up filters simply slip over the lens. Also known as diopter lens filter.

CMOS Chip – Refers to a type of image sensor used in digital cameras, cell phones, webcams, etc. It is a 2-dimensional solid-state device in which an imaging area is formed by photodiodes, which convert light into electrons, arranged in a regular grid pattern.

CMYK – Refers to the color model used in printing that has four main colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. CMYK is a color management system that is commonly used in phase color printing. It is also used in spot color printing, where various colors are mixed inks produced on the printing press.

Color Channel – Refers to the number, layer, or type of color in an image. A CMYK image can have a maximum of four channels: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). It refers to the number of colors used to create the image. A color channel refers to a specific type or group of colors in the image. For example, a grayscale image will only have one channel, and that channel will be for gray.

Continuous Lighting – Refers to the consistent amount of light throughout the entire scene or shot. Continuous lighting is different from flash lighting, giving off a burst of bright light when activated.

Contrast – Refers to the disparity between the darkest (shadows) and lightest (highlights) areas. The greater the contrast in an image, the greater the disparity between the darkest and lightest regions. Contrast is used to increase the visibility of an object.

Crop Factor – Refers to how large a sensor is compared to a 35mm film frame. The crop factor is referred to as a multiplier since it is the ratio between the sensor and the frame size.

CRT – Refers to mostly obsolete television technology designed to display luminous images.

Depth of Field – Refers to the difference between the closest and farthest points in an image that most observers define as sharp.

Diffuser – Refers to a device with a reflective surface or series of surfaces that diffuse light in some manner. In photography, a diffuser (or diffusing sheet) is a device used to soften the quality of the light in a scene or to produce a soft-focus effect.

Digital Camera – Refers to light-sensitive electronic devices that capture, record, and store images digitally.

Darkroom – Refers to a room in a film laboratory with no illumination except for safelights (at night) or dim red lights in the ceiling (during the day). Photographic prints are developed in a dark room.

Digital Zoom – Refers to the use of software processing to simulate the optical zooming of a camera. It is a method of enlarging the subject of a photo without having to move closer to it

Directional Light – Refers to light from one direction, usually from the sun, which gives most photographic subjects precise and dramatic shadows.

Display – Refers to a wide variety of objects and methods used to show visual information. Display and screen are terms often used interchangeably.

dSLR – Refers to a camera that uses a reflex mirror and prism system to provide the photographer with an optical view of the image that will be captured. Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex.

Dynamic Range – Refers to the ratio of light that an image sensor or photographic film can handle without being overloaded and recording a washed-out or otherwise undesirable result.

Exposure – Refers to the amount of light allowed by the shutter and aperture ring to reach the camera film or sensor.

Exposure Bracketing – Refers to shooting a set of images that will be combined in photo-editing software to form a single image. The set may be of different exposures, or the bracket may be of varying focus points.

Extension Tube – Refers to a hollow metal tube attached between the camera body and the lens. An extension tube is used to alter the physical length between the lens and the film plane.

Fill Flash – Refers to the technique of using the flash unit to shoot light into the shadow-side of a subject when a more potent light source illuminates the other side. Fill Flash commonly softens sun shadows.

Filter – Refers to a piece of equipment, process, or accessory that aids in the photography process. Filters can be used in the process of shooting your photography, as well as during the post-processing phase.

Fixed Focus Lens – Refers to lenses that don’t change focus distances as you zoom in or out. The focal length of a fixed focus lens is pre-determined and can not be changed. Also, known as Prime Lenses.

Flash – Flash refers to the artificial illumination produced when a flashgun or other electronic flash unit (such as a flashbulb) illuminates a scene.

Focal Distance – Refers to the distance between the base of the lens and the film or sensor and is particularly important for zoom lenses. The focal distance for a zoom lens is changed by moving the inner lens groups. It is not necessarily constant for a given focal length, unlike prime lenses.

Focal Plane – Refers to a plane parallel to the optical axis of a lens or a mirror.

Focus – Refers to the act of sharpening or bringing a subject into a clear view. The term comes from camera optics, where it describes the ability of an optical system to bring an image into focus, usually on film or a digital image sensor.

Focus Bracketing – Refers to an in-camera method for automatically capturing a series of images with different focus points.

Focus Screen – Refers to the primary surface of a viewfinder that is used as a focusing aid when composing and taking pictures.

Golden Hour – Refers to “The Golden Hour,” which is between one and two hours after sunrise or before sunset, is just that to photographers. It gets its name from the warm, rich-toned light that bathes a landscape during that time.

Gray Card – Refers to a photographic term used in light metering systems. It is a card of 18% gray that is used to set exposure when taking a photo of a subject or scene that has a wide brightness range.

Gray Scale – Refers to the range of shades of gray in a grayscale photograph. This is the opposite of a color image where the image is made of a continuous gradation of colors.

Grain – Refers to the graininess that occurs in photos with very high ISO settings.

Histogram – Refers to a graphical representation of the distribution of numerical data where the horizontal axis represents the possible values of the data, and the vertical axis represents the number of times each value occurs.

Honeycomb Filter – Refers to a particular type of filter composed of hexagonal cell structures and acts as a net through which light can pass through. Named for its resemblance to a honeycomb.

Hot-shoe – Refers to the standard connection between a camera and the flash unit.

Infinity Focus – Refers to a focus setting used for shooting distant objects. 

IGPOTY – Refers to a popular photography contest. Stands for International Garden Photographer of the Year.

IPA – Refers to a popular photography contest. Stands for International Photography Awards

Incandescent Light – Refers to a type of artificial light, is produced by heating a metal filament until it becomes white-hot. The illumination is produced in the thin wire by electrical resistance. There are three main types of incandescent light bulbs: halogen, high-intensity discharge, and tungsten.

JPG – Refers to a commonly used compression technique for graphic files. Stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.

Layers – Refers an individual sheet of transparent material on which a designer places images, videos, and text. Each layer is a separate entity on which you can edit independently.

LCD – Refers to a type of display that is commonly used on the back of digital cameras for composing and previewing images. Stands for Liquid Crystal Display.

Lightroom – Refers to the popular bulk image digital editor; Adobe Lightroom

Macro Lens – Refers to a lens capable of magnifying an object to a reproduction ratio of at least 1:1, which describes the size relationship between the subject in the real world and the size of the image when measured at the sensor.

Macro Mode – Refers to the setting where you can take photographs up to three times the actual size of the subject.

Macro Photography – Refers to an image that was captured in the sensor of a camera while maintaining, at least, its real-life size (1:1 up to 10:1). Ratio-wise macro photography comes between Close-up photography (1:10 up to 1:1) and Micro Photography ( 10:1 up to 20:1 ).

Manual Focus – Refers to focusing a lens using a ring at the front of the lens body.

Medium Format – Refers to any photography that uses a medium-format camera (more than 6 x 6 inches) or a medium-format film format.

Memory Card – Refers to small electronic flash drives that store digital media.

Micro Four Thirds – Refers to a digital camera sensor format created by Panasonic and Olympus, in which the sensor is about a quarter the size of a 35 mm film frame. This allows for smaller and lighter cameras.

Micro Photography – Refers to anything with a minimum magnification ratio of 20:1. The captured images are at least 20 x bigger than their real-life size.

Mirror Lock-up – Refers to a feature that allows the user to have the camera’s mirror up and locked during any exposure.

Mirror Slap – Refers to the minor impact caused by the SLR mirror when starting and finishing an exposure. Known for negatively affecting the sharpness of the final result.

Monopod – Refers to a one-legged tripod used for image stabilization.

Negative Space – Refers to space in a photograph that is not occupied by the subject.

Noise – Refers to digital noise. An artifact that appears in an analog image caused by the sensor and its electronics. Digital noise is usually visible as a grainy, speckled, or blotchy appearance in an image, especially with fine details.

Omnidirectional Light – Refers to a photographic lighting technique (also known as “bounce lighting”) in which the light is dispersed equally in all directions.

Optical Zoom – Refers to the zoom obtained by the use of optical components in a zoom lens. See also Digital Zoom.

Photoblog – Refers to a blog that focuses on capturing and sharing visual moments from a photography perspective.

Photoshop – Refers to the most popular image processing and photo retouching software on the planet. It is a versatile editing and enhancement tool used by both experienced and amateur photographers.

Pixel – Refers to the smallest element of a display device that can be used to represent colors.

Pixelation – refers to noticeable individual square-shaped pixels on a raster-based image. In other to achieve optimal image quality, pixelation should be avoided.

Post Production – Refers to the stage where images are polished and refined, ensuring the best results. Often the last stage in media production process.

Presets – Refers to Lightroom Presets. Lightroom presets enable users to save a set of adjustments made to a photo and apply them to one or multiple photos later.

Prime Lens – Refers to a lens with a single focal length. In comparison to their zoom lens counterparts, these lenses are usually of higher quality.

Raw – Refers to a lossless file where all of the data visible to the imaging chip, is preserved, allowing for more post-processing control. See also TIFF.

Reflector – Refers to a light-reflecting photography accessory.

Retouching – Refers to the act of enhancing an image thru the use of post-processing software such as Adobe Photoshop.

Reversal Ring – Refers to a ring-shaped adapter commonly attached to the bayonet fitting of an SLR camera. Allows for non-macro lenses to be mounted backward and therefore able to achieve a macro-like effect.

Reversal Lens – Refers to the reverse mounting of a non-macro lens, a widespread practice in Macro Photography.

RGB – Refers to the traditional abbreviation for Red, Green, and Blue, which are the three normal color channels used in digital image processing. Also, see CMYK.

Rule of Thirds – Refers to a well-established composition rule which prioritizes the placement of the most significant elements of an image within sections divided by imaginary lines. The backdrop will take up the top third of the screen. The subject would be in the middle third, and the foreground will be in the lower third.

Shutter Time – Refers to the amount of time a shutter is open, allowing the light to reach the camera sensor or film.

Specular Highlight – Refers to parallel light reflection. Once Parallel rays fall on a flat and smooth surface, they remain parallel after reflection. Produces the stronger highlights.

Stacked Lens – Refers to the technique of putting one lens in front of another.  The frontal elements of each lent with face each other allowing for significant magnifications.

Stacking – Refers to a method used in image processing and macro photography, in which many photographs of the same subject, each taken at different focus distances, are merged to generate a final image that is in focus across a desired area of the scene or subject.

Stone Bag – Refers to a basket in the shape of a triangle that joins the legs of a tripod. Stones can be placed in the basket’s compartments to make the tripod more fixed to the ground.

Tele Converter – Refers to an extension that attaches to the front of the lens to extend the focal length.

Threading Adapter – Refers to a device that has a thread of one size and a mating thread of a different size.

TIFF – Refers to a digital format that allows the storage of large bitmap images without the loss of data.

Tripod – Refers to is a three-legged frame that allows for the camera to be mounted on top of it consequently allowing sharper photographic results.

TTL – Refers to the Flash’s most automated mode. The amount of light used to take a picture is controlled by the lens; before the flash fires, a pre-flash is emitted that measures the amount of light required to illuminate the object. It stands for “Through the Lens”.

Vignetting – Refers to when the corners of your image look darker than the middle of the image. This can happen when using a wide-angle lens, a cheap lens, or a lens with a low f-stop.

Washing Out – Refers to excessive white areas in an overexposed shot.

White Balance – Refers to the method of changing an image’s overall color balance to meet the color temperature of a specific light source. It may also be used to eliminate color casts caused by some forms of illumination.

White Balance Bracketing – Refers to a technique used by photographers to ensure a particular color temperature is correct in an image. It is achieved by taking three (or more) photographs of the same subject, each with a different white balance setting on a camera. . The images are later combined the ensure the temperature is accurate.

Working distance –  Refers to the minimum distance between the front of the lens and the subject.

Zoom Lens – Refers to any lens with several adjustable focal length options. See also Prime lens.

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Macro Photography Glossary.

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