Ten important photography
definitions to learn so you can walk the talk and talk the walk.

For the short version read the following photography definitions or click on the link for more detailed definitions.


Joint Pictures Expert Group. A algorithm for the compression of digital image files. Jpeg is a standard format which is used by all digital cameras and read by all image processing software.


A graph which shows the range of tones the digital camera has captured for the shot. The left edge of the graph represents the darker tones and the right side of the graph represents the lighter tones. Live histograms are available on most digital slr cameras and are a valuable tool in assessing tonal range and if the image has been over-exposed or under-exposed.For a detailed article on the histogram
click here.

Aspect Ratio

The ratio between the width and height of an image. Most digital cameras produce an aspect ratio of 4×6. Read more to find out what this means if your final print is an 8×10.

Zoom lens

A lens which has the ability to move through a range of focal lengths.


(PIX [picture] ELement) Generally, the smallest addressable unit on a display screen or bitmapped image. Screens are rated by their number of horizontal and vertical pixels; for example, 1024×768 means 1024 pixels are displayed in each row, and there are 768 rows (lines).

Dynamic Range

The range of tones that can be recorded by the image sensor on a digital camera. The better the dynamic range, the more detail will be in the darker and lighter elements of the photograph.

Ambient Light

The available light or the surrounding light. A term used by professional photographers in lighting scenarios.


The measure of the digital camera’s film sensor or photographic film to light. The common ISO’s are 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600.

Shutter Lag

The time between the moment the camera’s shutter is pressed to when the actual picture is recorded on the sensor.

Raw Format

A digital file format which is uncompressed and unprocessed (unlike the jpeg file). Also known as a digital negative.

Definition of Photography

Derived from two Greek words: “photos” meaning light and “graphos” meaning to write. To write with light implies how important lighting is to achieve a perfect image.