Aperture: The opening in the camera where light is able to pass through. You can measure how open or closed it is with the f-stop or f-number.

Aperture Priority: A camera setting that allows the photographer to set a specific aperture and have the camera automatically choose an ISO and shutter speed to match

Aspect Ratio: The ratio of the image's width and height. The default smartphone aspect ratio is 4:3, while many digital cameras are either 3:2 or 4:3.

Auto-Focus and Manual Focus: When you use auto-focus, the camera locks onto a subject so it is automatically in focus and won't come out blurry. Manual focus is when a photographer physically moves the lens by hand to make sure the subject is in clear focus.

Bokeh: An intentional background blur that is popular in portrait photography

Camera Body: The main part of the camera. It includes the software, sensors, and electronics, but it does not include lenses.

Chromatic Aberration: A lens effect where not every wavelength is brought to the correct color point. This is especially common in older or lower-quality photos, or it can be used as an added effect to create a retro look. It's also called "purple fringing" or "color fringing."

Composition: How the subject and elements in an image are arranged in the frame. Photographers can control composition by adjusting the focus, moving the camera, or making changes like cropping in post-production.

Crop Factor: The ratio of the sensor size to what the camera lens picks up

Depth of Field: The difference in distance between the different objects in focus in a photo. A shallower depth of field means that the elements that are closer to you and farther away will be blurry, while a deeper depth of field means that elements much further back and closer in the photo are still in focus.

DSLR: Digital single-lens reflex. This is a camera that combines a traditional single-lens camera with a digital sensor.

Dynamic Range: The difference between the lightest and darkest tones in every image. Cameras have a lower dynamic range than our eyes do.

Exposure Triangle: A combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO that determines the time and intensity of the light let in to create different exposures

Focal Length: The distance between the center of a lens and the camera sensor

F-Stop: The size of the aperture

Hot Shoe: The mounting point for a flash on the top of the camera body

Image Stabilization: Methods that are designed to reduce the camera motion blur, either as part of the equipment in or on the camera or in post-production

ISO: The sensitivity of the camera to light

Light Meter: A device that measures the amount of light in a space

Mirrorless Camera: This is a term for a camera where the sensor is directly exposed to light. Most DSLR and smartphone cameras are mirrorless cameras.

Overexposure and Underexposure: When the camera sensor lets in either too much light or too little light. Overexposed photos happen when the sensor lets in too much light, so the subjects look pale, while underexposed photos are too dark because not enough light was let in.

Prime Lens: A lens with a fixed focal length that's sometimes called a unifocal lens

Point-and-Shoot: A small camera made to be easy to use without a great amount of skill. Point-and-shoot cameras have declined in popularity since smartphone cameras have become so common.

Post-Production or Post-Processing: Using photo editing software to crop, edit, alter, or otherwise improve the photos you take

Raw Files: Image files that haven't been altered or compressed in any way. This format is a great option for archival purposes but creates files too large for online use.

Shutter Priority: A setting on the camera where the photographer chooses a specific shutter speed and the camera chooses an ISO and aperture to match

Shutter Speed: The length of time a camera shutter is open for the light to be exposed to the sensors inside. High shutter speeds are for capturing a moving object without the subject being blurry, and low shutter speeds are popular for landscape or nighttime photography, which benefit from the camera getting more light.

Single-Lens Reflex Camera: A common name for pre-digital cameras, where the lens moves in the same direction as the mirror and sensor. The photographer would look through the viewfinder for the best approximation of what the final photograph would look like.

Telephoto Lens: A lens designed for long-range photography that makes the subject look closer to the camera

TIFF: Tagged image file format, a popular image format for high-resolution graphics

Vignetting: A common technique in which the image brightness is reduced at the edges to draw the eye to the center of the image

White Balance: A digital photography practice designed to make the colors appear more natural

Viewfinder: Where the photographer looks while taking a photo. With a digital camera, photographers usually use an electronic viewfinder, but with single-lens reflex cameras, the photographer looks through the camera's viewfinder to see the subject.

Wide-Angle Lens: A lens with a shorter focal length than physical length for a wider field of view

Zoom Lens: A lens that has an adjustable focal length so the photographer can change the field of view without having to switch out their lens

Additional Photography Resources