My A-Z Of Photography (Part I)

Photography is a strong creative discipline for so many reasons and is a great accompaniment to blogging, it can introduce your style, welcome in a returning and new audience. For me, my love of photography has been and will be (I hope) eternal but sometimes we all need a brush up on the smaller essential details so I thought it time to put together my own alphabet on a subject I adore. Initially this was meant as one post but the there is just so much good stuff to cover it has now become 2 parts with the second coming soon. Here is what my A-Z of photography consists of, what about you?

A - Aperture // Automatic Mode

Aperture: One of the essential parts of what most photographers refer to as the 'triangle'. This controls how wide the lens opens for the light it also affects how much of the image is pin sharp.

Automatic Mode: A great camera setting that controls most settings including shutter speed, aperture and ISO for you so that you don't have to think about it great for if you're just starting out or if you're ready for some adventures.

B - Bokeh

Bokeh: A type of effect that can be applied to your image in camera or from post processing, it can change the shape of the light. For most images imagine the image completely out of focus, it works best with items similar to Christmas lights for example take a peak here.

C - Contrast // Composition

Contrast: it refers to the difference between the lightest and darkest tones of an image and can be an effect tool in directing the audience's attention to where you want it to sit. This can also look at tonal and colour differentials.

Composition: How the image is constructed, this can take into account many types of ideas such as lighting, depth of field, thirds, colour, location or angles. Everything and anything can be considered when building your intended image, this can be helped by doing your homework and planning what you want from your ideas.

D - Depth Of Field

Depth Of Field: This is controlled by the camera setting Aperture it is responsible for how much of the image you want to be pin sharp for example a smaller aperture number such as f.stop 5.6 means the area of focus is small whereas a number such as f.stop 22 means all of the image could be in focus.

E - Exposure

Exposure: Usually defined as how much light hits the camera sensor (or in terms of a manual camera the film) and controlled by a mixture of shutter speed, ISO and aperture. It usually shows how much light has been captured within the Histogram (which can be found in most photo editing systems).

F - Flash // Focus

Flash: A type of artificial lighting that can be sourced both from the camera itself or from another accessory such as a 'Hammerhead' flash. It's used to illuminate a dark area but it can be sharp with strong shadows, in camera flash can usually reach approximately 2 metres but like most things can be manipulated. Although photographers who predominately use natural light aren't always a fan it can be used to great effect, Martin Parr and Terry Richardson feature 2 opposing styles but both intriguing in different ways.

Focus: This can have 2 meanings, the first refers back to depth of field and how much of the image is 'in focus' i.e. as sharp as you want, you can create soft (by gently using the lens to throw the focus) or hard focus (where edges are clear and well defined). The amount of image 'in focus' can differ between various f. stop numbers which is looked after by aperture. The other definition can refer to where the eye is drawn, whether accidentally or on purpose. Through your use of composition with examples like leading lines or thirds. What can happen through composition is that you can lead the audiences' eye across an image but that means it can also be distracted and 'focus' can be on a part of the image not meant to take center stage. Focus can be automatically determined by the camera but can also be looked after by you with the manual setting.  

G - Golden Ratio

Golden Ratio: Some folks within photography deem the rule of thirds to simple, the golden ratio seems to be a magical mathematical equation that pops up naturally and everywhere - that our eye is somehow unconsciously drawn to. It can be spotted in the spiral of shells, curves, DNA but it's also been employed in architechture e.g the most famous being the Greek Partheon, the Pyramids and Notre Dame. When used successfully the proportion is meant to create a sense of balance and serenity, this could need a whole post for more exploration.

H - Hand Strap

Hand Strap: A fairly obvious (and admittedly a bit of over reaching to complete the A-Z). This can be an essential accessory to your camera, using your attached strap can add another level of support and safety for your expensive baby.


ISO (International Standards Organisation): A big contender for one of the most important camera settings and one of my real favourites in my own work, it's heavily used in conjunction with aperture and shutter speed. The range of numbers can be anything from 100 to 6400 but these can differ between makes and analogue models. The larger the number the more sensitive your sensor will be to light but this also means looking at your other setting too to create something more balanced, unless that's not what you're after. Be wary though, the higher the number used it can mean more contrast and more noise which isn't as noticeable in comparison to analogue cameras but can be something to think about if you're wanting completely smooth imagery. ISO also applies to film and analogue cameras, film comes with a predetermined ISO but this can be 'pushed' to a higher number when first inserted into the camera but as far as I'm aware once pushed it cannot be pulled back again without affecting the rest of the film. If you do 'push' or 'pull' a film it's important to also factor this in when you go to develop the final results.



JPEG: A name for an image file or alternatively another expression of compression of data, for most digital cameras it is the default image format but because they are automatically processed within the camera it makes them instantly accessible for post-processing.

K - ???

L - Lens // LCD

Lens: These are necessary part of equipment for your camera bag, they can be permanently fixed to the camera or can be interchanged depending on your needs. They can come in a variety of focal lengths, some can be huge needing their own tripod whilst others can be quite small in width which could be more appropriate for macro photography. Different brands especially those like Canon and Nikon make a whole range of lenses some more premium than others. Lenses can be controlled by aperture (how wide the lens shutter opens) and shutter speed (how long the shutter opens for), it can also help be responsible for putting your image in focus when used with the automatic setting but you can move your lens manually for your own focus.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): This is the technology used by digital camera makes and is embedded in the back of all models, it is used to review photos, display menu options and can serve as a live viewfinder.

M - Manual Mode

Manual Mode: Another camera setting but this time as opposed to 'automatic' which can looks after your settings for you with minimum input, this means you are the one responsible for the technical side for example shutter speed, focus, ISO, aperture and multiple exposure to name a few - it's all your job. This can be intimidating but it takes a lot of play and confidence however the settings with shutter or aperture priorities can act as a good half way house to manual.

What is your A-Z?

Have I missed something obvious?

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