Photography Slangs

Artifact – A loose term to define an element that damages the picture quality, which is anything from the blockiness that can occur when pictures are heavily compressed as JPEGs, to the distortion to pictures that occurs with heavy manipulation – even the effect you see with lens flare.

ATGNI – All The Gear, No Idea. A photographer who has lots of camera equipment but doesn’t know what most of it does.

BIF – A rare acronym that you’ll only see floating around bird photography forums. There’s a clue right there: BIF stands for Bird in Flight, and is usually brought up during lengthy technical discussions about auto-focus point selection and focus modes.

Bokeh – Pronounced ‘boh-kay’, this term is derived from the Japanese word for ‘blur’ and is used to describe the aesthetic quality of the blur in out-of focus areas of a picture. The faster the lens, and the more aperture blades it has, the smoother the blur tends to be.

Bigma – The Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 lens earned the nickname ‘Bigma’ thanks to its considerable 10x zoom range and significant proportions.

DoF – An acronym for Depth of Field, or the zone of perceived sharpness in a picture that extends out from the point of focus towards the camera, and beyond it, towards the horizon.

Chimping – The act of looking at pictures on the back of the camera as soon as you’ve taken them, usually accompanied by lots of ‘ooh-ooh-oohing’, hence the name. If you keep chimping, you’ll be missing some great photo opportunities.

Clipping – It is the result of the histogram after you grossly overexpose or underexpose a picture. In an overexposed shot, the histogram will usually be bunched up on the right and parts of it will be ‘clipped’ off by the edge of the graph. If the histogram is bunched up on the left and clipped by the opposite side of the graph, this usually indicates an underexposed photo.

Doughnuts – The name given to the ring-shaped bokeh created by the unique construction of a mirror lens.

EVIL – An early and slightly derogatory acronym for what’s now widely known as CSC (Compact System Camera), EVIL stands for Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens.

Fringing AKA ‘purple fringing’, this is the ghostly purple glow that can sometimes be seen around the edges of high contrast areas in digital pictures – compacts are particularly prone to it.

Halos – A term used to describe the glow that’s created around the edges of objects when they’ve been over-sharpened in Photoshop or other similar photo- editing software.

Glass – As in ‘that’s a lovely piece of glass’. Glass is another term for lenses, generally used by photographers that understand that quality of a lens matters more than the quality of the camera attached to it.

Fill-in – A blip of flash to brighten up the shadows in a daylight picture is known as “fill” or “fill-in flash”. Set the flash to Slow Sync mode, and the camera will take care of this for you, automatically balancing the ambient light and flash.

Grad – ‘Grad’ is an abbreviation of ‘Graduated’ and is used to describe a type of optical filter which has a dark section and a clear section. These filters – commonly known as ND Grads – are used to balance the brightness in high-contrast scenes, usually landscapes, with the dark area placed over the bright sky and the clear section over the foreground.

IQ – Image Quality – abbreviation often used in online camera reviews.

JPEG – A common file format for digital photographs. While most know what this photography term is, many still don’t know that it gets its name from the Joint Photographic Experts Group that developed it, and that the JPEG file format allows files of color photos to be compressed to a smaller digital file than if the full range of colors were to be saved.

Grip and rip / Spray and pray- Both of these terms refer to the act of setting the camera to its highest continuous drive mode and keeping the shutter button held down to try and capture a fleeting moment. The theory is that the more frames you fill, the more chance there is of at least one of them being acceptably composed and sharp.

Light bucket – This is another term for a fast lens. Light bucket is also used to describe a photo-site on a digital camera sensor (the element that ‘captures’ the light to make an exposure).

Flare – Flare is a (usually unwanted) effect of having bright light sources in the frame, or just out of the frame. When the light source is in the frame, bright/colored artifacts can be seen in the image. When the light source is just out of the frame but hitting the front element of the lens, it can make the picture appear hazy and washed out. Shielding the front of the lens with a lens hood or your hand can prevent this.

Dust bunnies – In the wider world, dust bunnies are clumps of dust and fluff that you find drifting around wooden floors. In the camera world, dust bunnies are the annoying dots of sensor dust that show up in the same place in consecutive photos. These usually have to be removed manually.

Fast/slow lens – A fast lens is one that has a wide maximum aperture, allowing you to use fast shutter speeds for any given situation. A slow lens has a small maximum aperture, meaning that shutter speeds will be comparatively slow in the same situation. The focal length of a lens needs to be taken into account when thinking about lens ‘speed’ – a 10mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.5 is slow, but a 500mm lens with the same f/4.5 maximum aperture is fast.


Viorel Iliescu

Web Developer & Marketing Manager at Trend Prive Magazine. Very kind and humanitarian.