Photography Terms Glossary

Photography is a type of art that requires, in addition to the creativity of the photographer artist, technical and theoretical knowledge of the subject. Within photography, there are certain basic terms that are important to know for anyone who is interested in this beautiful art. In this article, we bring you the basic terms to better understand photography.

20 Main terms to Understand Photography

4k: standard for digital video resolution. It refers to different image formats that have approximately 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution. There are also videos in 8k and 12k.

Aberration: it is an optical defect of the camera lens that manifests itself in flaws in the image (colour, shape, etc.) and affects its sharpness).

Aperture: It is the hole through which the light that reaches the sensor passes and is regulated by the diaphragm.


APS-C: sensor format smaller than the full sensor of cameras, known as Full Frame.

White Balance: A camera feature that allows you to compensate the different light colours.

Exposure Lock: This button allows you to lock a certain exposure. The function is used to change the frame and not vary the measurement. Depending on the brand of camera, it may appear as an asterisk (Canon) or with the letters AE-L, AEL, AE Lock in most brands.

Bokeh: Blur effect achieved with large apertures.

Overhead: It refers to the angle (shooting from above vertically) or light, from the same place.

High Key: Type of lighting with a predominance of white and bright tones.

Low Key: lighting technique with a predominance of dark tones.

Exposure Compensation: Adjustments made to modify the parameters recommended by the exposure meter.

Backlight: Situation where the light source is in front of the camera and behind the portrayed objective.

Diaphragm: Mechanical part of the camera that is inside the objective or lens and that acts as a filter, regulating the amount of light entering through the aperture.

Focal length: It is the distance in millimetres between the lens and the image it forms on the film. It measures how much of what is in focus will be captured, and how big it will look.

Focus: It refers to the points that are selected by the photographer for the image, as with sight we can focus on an object and the rest will be blurred.


Flash sync: Determines when the flash fires. Normally, the flash fires at the beginning of the photo, but this function allows you to change the moment when it happens.

Hot Shoe: The hot shoe is the slot on the top of a camera for adding accessories.

ISO: The ISO determines how sensitive the camera is to light. The higher the ISO number, the higher the camera’s sensitivity to light.

Noise:  Noise is the small specks in an image, sometimes also called graininess.

RAW or Raw Files: RAW is a file type that gives the photographer more control over subsequent photo editing. The RAW file requires specific software to open it, however it is the file that most faithfully captures the image. It is considered a “digital negative”.

Now that you know these basic terms, you will be able to understand better when you hear photographers speak, or you can also begin to delve into this art and continue learning and improving both in an amateur and professional way.

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