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All Lessons

Basic Lessons Package
* Visual Basics
* Camera Basics
* Understanding Light
* Digital Facts and Techniques
* Retouching Your Photographs
* How to shoot Nature Photographs
* Darkroom Processes

Intermediate Lessons Package
* Photo Journalistic Methods
* Sell Your Images as Stock Photos
* Photographic Legal Forms
* Photographic Invoices
* Sell your images as Fine Art
* Shooting like a Travel Photographer
* How to Build a Powerful Portfolio

Advanced Lessons Package
* Building a Professional Photo Studio
* How to Photograph People
* Shooting for Product Advertising
* How to Photograph Architectural Spaces
* Shooting a Still Life
* How to Sell Your Photographs
* How to Market Your Photography

Extra information

Photographic Copyrights
Sample "ASK US" Form
Glossary of Photographic Terms




An optical defect in a lens causing it to form an image that is not Sharp or that is distorted. See a/so astigmatism, barrel distortion, chromatic aberration, coma, tield curvature, pincushion distor-tion, spherical aberration.

A substance with a pH below 7. Since an acid neutralizes an alkali, a Stop bath is usually an acidic solution that stops the action of the alkaline developer.

additive color:
A way to produce colors of light by mixing light of the three additive primary colors red, green, and blue.

See automatic exposure. AF See automatic focus.

To move a solution over the surface of film or paper during development SO that fresh liquid comes into contact with the surface.

A substance with a pH above 7. Developers are usually alkaline solutions.

angle of view:
The area seen by a lens or viewfinder or read by a light meter.

The size of the lens opening through which light passes.

aperture priorty:
A mode of automatic exposure in which the photographer selects the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed that will produce the correct exposure.

archival processing:
Processing designed to protect a print or negative as much as possible from pre-mature deterioration caused by chemical reactions.

artificial light:
Light from an electric lamp, a flash bulb, or electronic flash. Often describes lights that the photographer has set up to illuminate a scene.

A film speed rating similar to an ISO rating. astIgrnatis~ A lens aberration or defect that is
caused by the inability of a simple lens to focus oblique rays uniformly.

automatic exposure:
A mode of camera operation in which the camera adjusts the shutter speed, the aperture, or both to produce the correct exposure. Abbreviated AE.

automatic flash:
An electronic flash unit with a light-sensitive cell and electronic circuitry that measures the light reflected back from the subject and termi-nates the flash when the exposure is correct.

automatic focus:
A system by which the camera adjusts its lens to focus on a given area, for exam-ple, whatever is at the center ot the image. Abbreviated AF.

Abbreviation ot aperture value. Used on some camera information displays as a shortened way to refer to aperture settings (f-Stops).

ambient light or available light:
The light that already exists where a photograph is to be made, as opposed to light brought in by the photographer. Otten implies a relatively dim light. Also call ambient light or exist-ing light.


back lighting:
Light that comes from behind the sub-
ject toward the camera.

barrel distortion:
A lens aberration or defect that causes straight lines to bow outward, away from the center of the image.

bellows A flexible, light-tight, and usually accordion-folded part of a view camera between the lens board in front and the viewing screen in back. Also used on a smaller camera for close-ups.

bit The smallest unit of information usable by a computer.

bleed mount To mount a print so that there is no border between the edges of the print and the edges of the mounting surface.

blocked up Describes highlight areas that lack nor-mal texture and detail. Due to excess contrast caused by, for example, overexposure or overde-velopment.

blotters Sheets of absorbent paper made expressly for photographic use. Wet prints dry when placed between blotters.

bounce light Light that does not travel directly from its source to the subject but is first reflected off another surface.

bracket To make several exposures, some greater and some less than the exposure that is calculated to be correct. Bracketing allows for error and per-mits selection of the best exposure atter develop-ment.

brightness Strictly speaking, a subjective impres-sion of the lightness of an object. The correct term for the measurable quantity of light reflected or produced by an object is luminance. See also luminance.

broad lighting Portrait lighting in which the main source of light illuminates the side of the face turned toward the camera.

built-in meter A reflected-light exposure meter built into a camera so that light readings can be made directly from camera position.

bulb A shutter setting marked B at which the shutter remains open as long as the shutter release is held down.

burn in To darken a specific area of a print by giving it additional printing exposure.

butterfly lighting Portrait lighting in which the main source of light is placed high and directly in front of the face.

byte A unit of digital data containing eight bits. See also kilobyte, megabyte.


cable release A long coiled wire with a plunger at one end and a socket at the other that attaches to a cameras shutter release. Pressing the plunger releases the shutter without touching (and possibly moving) the camera.

calotype The first successful negative/positive pho-tographic process; it produced an image on paper. Invented by Tslbot; also call Talbotype.

camera A picture-taking device usually consisting of a light-tight box, a film holder, a shutter to admit a measured quantity of light, and a lens to focus the image.

camera obscura Latin for "dark chamber"; a dark-ened room with a small opening through which rays of light could enter and form an image of the scene outside. Eventually, a lens was added at the opening to improve the image, and the room shrank to a small, portable box.

carte-de-visite A small portrait, about the size of a visiting card, popular during the 1860's. People ohen collected them in albums.

cartridge See cassette.

cassette A light-tight metal or plastic container that permits a roll of 35mm film to be loaded into a camera in the light. Also called a cartridge.

catchlight A reflection of a light source in S sub-ject's eye.

changing bag A light-tight bag into which a photog-rapher can insert his or her hands to handle film when a darkroom is not available.

characteristic curve A diagram of the response to light of a photographic material, showing how increasing exposure affects silver density during development. Also called the D log E curve, since density is plotted against the logarithm of the expo-sure.

chromatic aberration A lens defect that bends light rays of different colors at different angles and therefore focuses them on different planes.

chrome A color transparency.

chromogenic film Film in which the final image is composed of dyes rather than silver.

circle of confusion The tiny circle of light formed by a lens as it projects the image of a single point of a Subject. The smaller the diameters of the circles of contusion, the sharper the image will be.

close-up A larger-than-normal image that is formed on a negative by focusing the Subject closer than normal to the lens with the use of supplementary lenses, extension tubes, or bellows.

close-up lens See supplementary lens. collodion A transparent, syrupy solution of pyroxylin
(a nitrocellulose) dissolved in ether and alcohol; used as the basis for the emulsion in the wet-plate process.

color balance 1. A film's response to the colors of a scene. Color films are balanced for use with spe-cific light sources. 2. The reproduction of colors in a color print, alterable during printing.

color cast A trace of one color in all the colors in an image.

color compensating filters Gelatin filters that can be used to adjust the color balance during picture taking or in color printing. More expensive than acetate color printing filters, they can be used below the enlarger lens if the enlarger has no other place for filters. Abbreviated CC filters.

color printing filters Acetate filters used to adjust the color balance in color printing. They must be used with an enlarger that can hold filters between the enlarger lamp and the negative. Abbreviated CP filters.

color temperature A numerical description of the color of light measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

color temperature meter A device for estimating
the color temperature of a light source. Usually used to determine the filtration needed to match the color balance of the light source with that of standard types of color film.

coma A lens aberration or defect that causes rays that pass obliquely through the lens to be focused at different points on the film plane.

complementary colors 1. Any two colors of light that when combined include all the wavelengths of light and thus produce white light (see additive color). 2. Any two dye colors that when combined absorb all wavelengths of light and thus produce black (see subtractive color). A colored filter absorbs light of its complementary color and pass-es light of its own color.

condenser enlarger An enlarger that illuminates the negative with light that has been concentrated and directed by condenser lenses placed between the light source and the negative.

contact printing The process of placing a negative in contact with sensitized material, usually paper, and then passing light through the negative onto the material. The resulting image is the same size as the negative.

contamination Traces of chemicals that are present where they don't belong, causing loss of chemical activity, staining, or other problems.

continuous tone Describes an image with a smooth gradation of tones from black through gray to white.

contrast The difference in darkness or density between one tone and another.

contrast filter A colored filter used on a camera lens to lighten or darken selected colors in a black-and-white photograph. For example, a green filter used to darken red flowers against green leaves.

contrast grade The contrast that a printing paper produces. Systems of grading contrast are not uniform, but in general grades 0 and 1 have low or sott contrast; grades 2 and 3 have normal or medium contrast; grades 4,5 and 6 have high or hard contrast.

contrasty Describes a scene, negative or print with very great differences in brightness between light and dark areas. Opposite: flat.

convergence The phenomenon in which lines that are parallel in a subject, such as the vertical lines of a building, appear nonparallel in an image.

cool Refers to bluish colors that by association with common objects (water, ice, and so on) give an impression of coolness.

correction filter A colored filter used on S camera lens to make black-and-white film produce the same relative brightnesses perceived by the human eye. For example, a yellow filter used to darken a blue sky so it does not appear exces-sively light.

coupled rangefinder See rangefinder.

covering power The area of the focal plane over which a lens projects an image that is acceptably sharp and uniformly illuminated.

crop To trim the edges of an image, often to improve the composition. Cropping can be done by moving the camera position while viewing a scene, by adjusting the enlarger or easel during printing, or by trimming the finished print.

curvilinear distortion See barrel distortion; pin-cushion distortion.

cut film See sheet film. daguerreowpe The first practical photographic
process, invented by Daguerre and described by him in lB3g. The process produced a positive image formed by mercury vapor on S metal plate coated with silver iodide.


darkroom A room where photographs are devel-oped and printed, sufficiently dark to handle light-sensitive materials without causing unwanted exposure.

dark slide See slide (2).

daylight film Color film that is balanced to produce accurate color renditions when the light source illuminating the photographed scene has a color temperature of about 5500K, such as in midday sunlight or with electronic flash or a blue flashbulb.
dedicated flash An electronic flash unit that when used with certain cameras will automatically set the correct shutter speed for use with flash and will triggers light in the viewfinder when the flash is charged and ready to fire. Also called designat-ed flash.

dense Describes a negative or an area of a nega-tive in which a large amount of silver has been deposited. A dense negative transmits relatively little light. Opposite: thin.

densitometer An instrument that measures the darkness or density of a negative or print.

density The relative amount of silver present in var-ious areas of film or paper affer exposure or development; therefore, the darkness of a photo-graphic print or the light-stopping ability of a nega-tive or transparency.

depth of field The area between the nearest and farthest points from the camera that are accept-ably sharp in an image.

depth of focus The small range of allowable focus-ing error that will still produce an acceptable sharp image when a lens is not focused exactly.

designated flash See dedicated flash. developer A chemical solution that changes the
invisible, latent image produced during exposure into a visible one.

development 1. The entire process by which exposed film or paper is treated with various chemicals to make an image that is visible and permanent. 2. Specifically, the step in which film or paper is immersed in developer.

diaphragm The mechanism controlling the bright-ness of light that passes through a lens. An iris diaphragm has overlapping metal leaves whose central opening can be adjusted to a larger or smaller size. See a/so aperture.

dichroic head An enlarger head that contains yel-low, magenta, and cyan filters that can be moved in calibrated stages into or out of the light beam to change the color balance of the enlarging light.

diffuse Scattered, not all coming from the same direction. For example, sunlight on a cloudy day.

diffusion enlarger An enlarger that illuminates the negative by scattering light from many angles evenly over the surface of the negative

digital imaging A method of image editing in which a picture is recorded as digital information that can be read and manipulated by a computer, and sub-sequently reformed as a visible image.

DIN A numerical rating used in Europe to describe the sensitivity of film to light. The DIN rating increases by 3 as the sensitivity of the film doubles.

diopter An optician's term to describe the power of a lens. In photography, it mainly indicates the magnifying power and focal length of a supple-mentary close-up lens.

distortion 1. A lens aberration that causes straight lines at the edge of an image to appear curved. 2. The changes in perspective that take place when a lens is used very close to (wide-angle distortion) or very far from (telephoto effect) a subject.

dodge To lighten an area of a print by shading it during part of the printing exposure.

dropout An image with black and white areas only and no intermediate gray tones. Usually made by using high-contrast lith film.

dry down To become very slightly darker and less contrasty, as most photographic printing papers do when they dry affer processing.

dry mount To attach a print to another surface, ususally cardboard, by placing a sheet of dry-mount tissue between the print and the mounting surface. This sandwich is placed in S heated mounting press to melt an adhesive in the tissue. Pressure-sensitive tissue that does not require heat may also be used.

DX coding A checkered or bar code on some film cassettes. The checkered code can be automati-cally scanned by a suitable equipped camera for such information as film speed and number of frames. The bar code is read by automatic film processing equipment for film type, processing procedure, and so on.


easel A holder to keep sensitized material, normally paper, flat and in position on the baseboard of an enlarger during projection printing. It usually has adjustable borders to frame the image to various sizes.

El See exposure index.

electromagnetic Spectrum The forms of radiant energy arranged by size of wavelength ranging from bllliontha of a millimeter (gamma rays) to sev-eral miles (radio waves). The visible spectrum is the part that the human eye sees as light: wave lengths of 400 to 700 nanometers (billiontha of a meter), producing the sensation of the colors vio-let, blue, green, yellow, and red.

electronic flash A tube containing gas that pro-duces a brief, brilliant flash of light when electri-
fled. Unlike a flashbulb, an electronic flash unit is reusable. Also called a strobe.

emulsion A light-sensitive coating applied to photo-graphic films or papers. It consists of silver halide crystals and other chemicals suspended in gelatin.

enlargement An image, usually a print, that is larg-er than the negative. Made by projecting an enlarged image of the negative onto sensitized paper.
enlarger An optical instrument ordinarily used to project an image of a negative onto sensitized paper. More accurately called a projection printer because it can project an image that is either larg-er or smaller than the negative.

etch To remove a small, dark imperfection in a print or negative by scraping away part of the emulsion.

EV See exposure value. existing light See available light.

exposure 1. The act of letting light fall on a light sensitive material. 2. The amount of light reaching the light-sensitive material; specifically, the intensi-ty of light multiplied by the length of time it falls on the material.

exposure index A film speed rating similar to an ISO rating. Abbreviated El.

exposure meter An instrument that measures the amount ot light falling on a subject (incident-light meter) or the amount of light emitted or reflected by a subject (reflected-light meter), allowing aper-ture and shutter speed settings to be computed. Commonly called a light meter.

exposure value A system originally intended to sim-plify exposure calculations by assigning standard-ized number values to f-stop and shutter speed combinations. More often, used simply as a short-hand way of describing the range of light levels within which equipment operates. For example, a manufacturer may describe a meter as operating from EV -1 to EV 20 (4 sec at f/i .4 to 1/2000 sec atf/22m with ISO 100 film).

extension tubes Metal rings that can be attached between a camera body and lens for close-up work. They extend the lens farther than normal from the film plane so that the lens can focus clos-er than normal to an object.


factor A number that tells how many times exposure must be increased to compensate for loss of light (for example, due to use of a filter).

Farmer's Reducer A solution of potassium fern-cyanide and sodium thiosultate that is used to decrease the amount of silver in a developed image.

fast Describes 1. a film or paper that is very sensi-tive to light; 2. a lens that opens a very wide aper-ture; 3. a short shutter speed. Opposite: slow.

ferrotype To give a glossy printing paper avery high sheen by drying the print with its emulsion pressed against a smooth metal plate, usually the hot metal drum or plate of a heat dryer.

fiber-base paper Formerly the standard type of paper available; now being replaced to a certain extent by resin-coated papers.

field curvature A lens aberration or defect that causes the image to be formed along a curve instead of on S flat plane.

fill light A source of illumination that lightens shad-ows cast by the main light and thereby reduces the contrast in a photograph.

film The material used in S camera to record a pho-tographic image. Generally it is S light-sensitive emulsion coated on S flexible acetate or plastic base.

film holder A light-tight container to hold the sheet film used in S view camera.

film plane See focal plane.

film speed The relative sensitivity to light of a film. There are several rating Systems: ISO (the most common in the United States and Great Britain), DIN (common in Europe), and others. Film speed ratings increase as the sensitivity of the film increases.

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

Finder A viewing device on a camera to show the subject area that will be recorded on the film. Also known as viewfinder and projected frame.

Fixed-Focus Describes a non-adjustable camera lens, set for a fixed subject distance.

Fixing Bath A solution that removes any light-sensitive silver-halide crystals not acted upon by light or developer, leaving a black-and-white negative or print unalterable by further action of light. Hypo.

Flash A brief, intense burst of light from a flashbulb or an electronic flash unit, usually used where the lighting on the scene is inadequate for picture-taking.

Flat Too low in contrast. The range in density in a negative or print is too short.

Flat Lighting Lighting that produces very little contrast or modeling on the subject plus a minimum of shadows.

Flip-up flash See "Cobra" Flash.

f-Number A number that indicates the size of the lens opening on an adjustable camera. The common f-numbers are f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22. The larger the f-number, the smaller the lens opening. In this series, f/1.4 is the largest lens opening and f/22 is the smallest. Also called f-stops, they work in conjunction with shutter speeds to indicate exposure settings.

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 millimetres on the lens mount.

Focal-Plane Shutter An opaque curtain containing a slit that moves directly across in front of the film in a camera and allows image-forming light to strike the film.

Focus 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 picture subject - 4 feet to infinity - for example.

Fogging Darkening or discoloring of a negative or print or lightening or discoloring of a slide caused by 1. exposure to nonimage-forming light to which the photographic material is sensitive, 2. too much handling in air during development, 3. over-development, 4. outdated film or paper, or 5. storage of film or paper in a hot, humid place.

Foreground The area between the camera and the principal subject.

Frame One individual picture on a roll of film. Also, tree branch, arch, etc., that frames a subject.

Frontlighting Light shining on the side of the subject facing the camera.


Graininess The sand-like or granular appearance of a negative, print, or slide. Graininess becomes more pronounced with faster film and the degree of enlargement.

H"-Format One of the three selectable Advanced Photo System print formats; identical to the 9:16 aspect ratio used in high-definition television (HDTV); suitable for wider shots than usual, such as groups; produces prints of 3.5 x 6 inches or 4 x 7 inches. See also Aspect Ratio and Interspersed Aspect Ratio. High Contrast A wide range of density in a print or negative. Highlights The brightest areas of a subject and the corresponding areas in a negative, a print, or a slide. Hot Shoe The fitting on a camera that holds a small portable flash. It has an electrical contact that aligns with the contact on the flash unit's "foot" and fires the flash when you press the shutter release. This direct flash-to-camera contact eliminates the need for a PC cord. Hyperfocal Distance Distance of the nearest object in a scene that is acceptably sharp when the lens is focused on infinity. Hypo The name for a fixing bath made from sodium thiosulfate, other chemicals, and water; often used as a synonym for fixing bath. Interspersed Aspect Ratio A basic requirement of certified photofinishers and certified photofinishing equipment; specifies the three system print formats - C, H and P - that users select during picture-taking must be available at photofinishing. See also Aspect Ratio, "C"-format, "H"-format and "P"-format. ISO Speed The emulsion speed (sensitivity) of the film as determined by the standards of the International Standards Organization. In these standards, both arithmetic (ASA) and logarithmic (DIN) speed values are expressed in a single ISO term. For example, a film with a speed of ISO 100/21° would have a speed of ASA 100 or 21 DIN.


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