Photographer Lingo And Terminology For Beginners

So you bought your first camera and you’re stuck staring at the owners manual with confusion. All of the “slang” is going right over your head and you have no idea where to begin. Believe it or not, every photographer or photo enthusiast has started out exactly where you are now.

Allow us to make this easy for you, so you can get to the fun stuff. Here are a few basic terms you will need to know when first starting out in photography. Use this as a guide and you’ll be able to conquer any shot, in any location or setting.

Camera Exposure Terms For A Photographer 101

  • Aperture – This refers to the size or opening width of your lens and controls the amount of light that is let into your photograph. Try to picture your aperture as a window with curtains. If you were to pull your curtains all of the way open, your entire room would be filled with light. The same goes for your images. Draw back the curtains a little bit, and less light would be let in. Keep this in mind as you’re choosing your aperture settings or your “Fstop”. Ask yourself the question: do you want your room – aka, your image – to be brighter, or darker?

The lower the number, the wider (or more open and brighter) your aperture and image will be. Example: f/2.8 would be considered a “large” aperture and f/22 would be very “small”.

Aperture also controls the depth of field. Open your Fstop (example f/2.8) if you’re looking to focus solely on one object or person and completely blur out the background. For a photo that is all around in focus with no blurring background effect, trying stopping around f/8.

stock aperature photographer guide artisanhd

Change The Aesthetic Of Your Image

  • Shutter Speed – This is the process or the “time” that it takes for your camera shutter to open and close. The longer you have your shutter open = more light reaching your camera’s sensor. Your camera “shutter”  is a device that allows light to pass through for a determined period of time. The camera “sensor” is an imaging device that converts the light received (once the picture is taken) into a digital image (the one that appears on your LCD screen), key for any photographer.

The shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, such as 1/60 or 1/1200, as well as whole seconds. Changing this will affect your lighting situation, as well as your motion.

shutterspeed photographer cheat sheet artisanhd

Using slower speeds in low light settings will accommodate for the darkness and will expose more light into your image. Keep in mind that by doing so, however, you will also be slowing down or “blurring” any motion in your image (such as moving cars or water). Fast speeds are great for freezing an exact moment in time (used a lot in sports photography).

  • ISOThis feature controls the sensitivity in which your camera’s sensor detects light. A low ISO number such as 50 or 100 is generally used outdoors, on a bright sunny day. Higher ISO numbers, such as 3200 and above are used in low light situations. Additionally, a high ISO will also produce more grain and “noise” in your images.  As a photographer, it’s important to play around and interact with all aspects (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) to get the perfect shot.

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Looking for more tips of the trade? Check out some other recent blogs on landscape photography and camera settings for print.

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About the Author:

Julie Estrada
As an experienced photographer and marketing professional, Julie Estrada finds passion in integrating her knowledge and skills through the use of digital media. With a background in photography, videography, social media management, and graphic design—Julie aspires to incorporate her own unique and artistic visions throughout the Artisan brand and connect with audiences on a more personal and creative level.

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