Glossary of terms
Ambient light The same thing as available light.
Available Light Any light knocking around that was not put there by you. Including natural light, room lights, street lights, moonlight, and neon signs.
BTS Behind the scenes. A shot or video showing the set up of a shoot from an onlooker's perspective.
Calibration of Workflow involves meticulously aligning the settings of your camera's LCD and EVF screens, your computer monitor, and your post-production software. This ensures that the images captured by your camera appear consistently and accurately across all these devices, from the moment of capture to the final output. The goal is to create a seamless visual match between what you see in your camera and what is displayed on your screen, as well as in the final product.
Catchlight The reflection of a light source visible in the subject’s eyes, adding liveliness to the portrait.
Cinematic photographs are shot in a horizontal aspect ratio and look like frames from a movie. Most movies have a low-contrast look and some photographers use Tiffen Black Pro Mist filters to create the low-contrast look. These filters also add a bit of halation to emulate the way that highlights bleed into the shadows on film. On a Fujifilm camera the film simulation Eterna can be used to give a canned cinematic look. LUTs are often applied in post-production to make the shots look like stills taken from a graded feature film.
COB LED Or "Chip On Board" uses multiple LED chips mounted directly onto a substrate to form a single module. Because the chips are packed closely together, they appear as a single light source.
Colour Temperature Measured in Kelvin, refers to the warmth or coolness of a light source, affecting the colour tone of the image.
Continuous Light Any continuous light source. These include HMI, Tungsten, fluorescent, and LED.
CRI is colour rendering index and along with TLCI (Television lighting consistency index) refers to the accuracy of colour distribution of a light source and at least 95% of either value is needed to be able to produce acceptable skin tones in colour portraits. Greater than 98% is recommended for beautiful skin tone reproduction. In these days of LED illumination, this is more important than ever. Many older or cheaper domestic LED bulbs have poor spectral consistency and are almost impossible to correct for using post-production. Newer LEDs and those designed for photography are far better and produce pleasing colour renditions.
Dingle is a branch or part of a bush placed between the light source and the subject to control the shape of the light or to cast shadows. A Gobo Short for 'go-between', is an object placed between the light source and the subject to control the shape of the light or cast shadows. A Scattergel is a gobo.
Dioptre refers to a unit of measurement used to express the optical power of a lens, particularly in the context of close-up filters. Close-up filters, also known as close-up lenses or diopters, are simple lenses that can be attached to the front of a camera lens to enable closer focusing, effectively turning a standard lens into a macro lens for close-up photography.
The dioptre value of a close-up filter indicates the extent of its magnifying power. A higher dioptre number means a greater magnification capability. For example, a +1 dioptre filter provides a modest amount of magnification, suitable for slightly closer focusing than normal. With a +1 dioptre filter fitted to a lens focussed at the infinity mark, the focus distance is reduced to 1 metre. A +3 dioptre filter offers more significant magnification, allowing for much closer focusing in the order of 20 to 25cm.
Here’s how dioptres work in practical terms:
- Magnification: The higher the dioptre value, the closer you can get to your subject while maintaining focus. This is ideal for photographing small subjects like insects, flowers, or detailed textures.
- Depth of Field: Using a close-up filter with a high dioptre value also affects the depth of field, making it shallower. This means that only a small part of the image will be in sharp focus, with the rest falling off into a soft blur, which can be a desired effect in close-up photography.
- Image Quality: While close-up filters are a convenient and cost-effective way to achieve macro-like shots, they can sometimes affect image quality, especially at the edges of the frame. Higher-quality filters minimize these issues.
Down the nose lighting is where the key light is in line with the nose creating a central nose shadow. Some people call this frontal key.
Editorial photographs are taken for multi-page spreads inside magazines or books to accompany a story. They are illustrative and usually don’t have a strong post-production style. They are natural in look. A cover shot for the same magazine might take on a higher contrast or be more stylised, but when you have multiple pictures across several spreads a natural look is best. National Geographic magazine pictures are editorial.
Exposure Value (EV) This is a number that represents a combination of a camera's shutter speed and f-number (aperture), giving you an idea of the exposure setting. EV is linked to lux in the sense that it helps you determine the right camera settings for a given light level (measured in lux). For example, in a brightly lit scene (high lux), you'll need a different EV setting than in a dimly lit scene (low lux).
EV1 at ISO 100 corresponds to a lighting condition of approximately 2.5 Lux and EV 0 at ISO 100 is equal to 1 Lux. Most modern camera light meters work down to 1 or 2 lux.
Flash A flash is the same thing as a strobe.
Filmic photographs are shot and processed to look like they were taken on film. They can be a vertical or horizontal aspect ratio and often have grain applied to emulate film emulsions. Some camera profiles are designed to emulate film emulsions like Kodak TriX or Fujifilm Velvia.
Fresnel lens was named after its inventor Augustin-Jean Fresnel differs from a conventional lens by dividing the lens into a set of concentric annular sections. This greatly reduces the weight of the lens. In photographic lamps, the fressie as they are called has small droplet-like glass beads on the reverse to help give the light pattern a beautifully soft edge.
Frontal key lighting is the same as down the nose.
Global Shutter This is a type of camera shutter technology that captures the entire image at the same moment. This differs from the more common rolling shutter, which captures the image by scanning across the sensor, either from top to bottom or side to side, leading to a slight delay between when the first and the last part of the sensor is exposed. With a global shutter, the entire sensor is exposed to light at the same time. This means that every part of the sensor receives the flash illumination simultaneously and evenly when a flash fires. This means that a flash can sync at all shutter speeds without any loss of flash power enabling the use of a large lens aperture in a bright scene to create a shallow depth of field.
Gobo Short for 'go-between', a gobo is an object placed between the light source and the subject to control the shape of the light or cast shadows. If the object is a branch or part of a bush it is called a Dingle. A Scattergel is a gobo.
Halation is the bleeding of highlights into adjacent shadow areas. The base of undeveloped film emulsions was matt black and this anti-halation layer was to stop reflected light from traveling back through the film. These days Tiffen Black Pro Mist filters are used to create deliberate halation. I use ¼ strength most of the time. ½ is very obvious, and ⅛ is subtle. Perfect for candle-lit situations or shots that have point light sources in them.
HMI A type of arc light bulb that is often used in Fresnel lens fixtures in the motion picture and TV industry. HMI is largely being replaced by LED light sources except for the very powerful lamps.
HSS High-Speed Sync (HSS) is a feature found in some camera flash systems that allows you to use a flash at shutter speeds faster than the camera's normal flash sync speed. To understand HSS, it's helpful to know a bit about how cameras and flashes typically work together.
In most cameras, there's a maximum shutter speed you can use with a flash, known as the flash sync speed. This is usually around 1/200th or 1/250th of a second. If you use a faster shutter speed, the shutter curtains start moving before the entire sensor is exposed, which means part of your image might be dark because the flash didn't illuminate it.
This problem is solved with HSS. When you activate HSS, the flash fires a series of very rapid pulses of light, rather than a single burst. This rapid pulsing happens throughout the duration of the exposure, ensuring the entire sensor or film is evenly lit, even though the shutter is never fully open at any one time. This allows you to use much faster shutter speeds while still using a flash, which is really useful in bright conditions where you want to control both the ambient light and the light from your flash or when you want to use a large lens aperture in a bright scene to create a shallow depth of field.
There is often a small trade-off in flash exposure when using HSS rather than normal sync. This used to be in the order of 1 to 2 stops but is now down to between ⅓ and ⅔ of a stop with Godox and other modern flash systems.
Inverse Square Law The inverse square law for lighting is a fundamental principle that might sound a bit complex, but it's actually quite simple when broken down:
Imagine you have a light bulb. When you move it twice as far away from a surface, say a wall, it doesn't just become twice as dim. It actually becomes four times dimmer. If you move it three times further away, it becomes nine times dimmer, and so on. This is the essence of the inverse square law in lighting.
In more technical terms, the intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. So, if you double the distance, the light's intensity is one-fourth; if you triple the distance, the intensity drops to one-ninth.
This principle is crucial in photography and lighting design because it helps you understand how to control the brightness and fall-off of light. If you want a softer light spread over a larger area, you move your light source farther away. If you need stronger, more focused light, you bring it closer.
Remember, the inverse square law applies to point light sources. When using larger light sources like big softboxes, the law still applies, but the effect is softened due to the size of the light source.
Lighting Modifier Any device that attaches to a light to change the direction, character, or colour of the light. Gels, gobos, and softboxes are all examples of lighting modifiers.
Lumens This is a measure of the total amount of visible light emitted by a source, often a bulb or an LED. Think of it as the total "light output." If you increase the lumens, you increase the total light emitted.
- Candle: A standard candle typically emits about 12 to 15 lumens.
- 40-Watt Incandescent Bulb: Approximately 450 lumens.
- 60-Watt Incandescent Bulb: Roughly 800 lumens.
- 100-Watt Incandescent Bulb: Around 1,600 lumens.
- LED Household Bulb: A 10-watt LED bulb emits around 800 lumens.
- Car Headlights: Modern headlights emit 3,000 lumens.
- Photography LED Spotlights: These range from 5,000 to 20,000 lumens.
Lux Lux measures the intensity of light that hits a surface. It's lumens per square meter. So, if you have a light source with a constant lumen output and you concentrate that light onto a smaller area, using a Fresnel lens, for instance, the lux increases because you have more light (lumens) in a given area. Conversely, if you spread that light over a larger area, by using a soft box, for instance, the lux decreases.
Lux values are used to measure how much light is present in a scene. These values can vary greatly depending on the environment and lighting conditions. Here's a list of typical Lux values for various scenes:
- Full Daylight: Typically ranges from 10,000 to 25,000 Lux. This is a bright, sunny day.
- Overcast Day: Around 1,000 Lux.
- Indoor Office Lighting: Ranges from 300 to 500 Lux.
- Sunrise or Sunset: About 400 Lux.
- Residential Spaces: Generally, around 100 to 300 Lux.
- Twilight: Approximately 10 Lux.
- Street Lights: Varies widely, but typically around 5 to 30 Lux.
- Moonlit Night: Around 0.1 to 0.3 Lux.
Model A model is anyone willing to have a camera pointed at them and be photographed. There is usually a trade between the model and the photographer. Sometimes the trade is TFP, (Time for pictures) other times money changes hands and can go either way. Occasionally a friend or family member will agree to model and expect nothing in return.
MUA Makeup artist.
Natural Light Any light that came originally from the sun. This includes window light, moonlight, overcast light, and sunlight.
ND A neutral density filter is a piece of glass or optical resin that cuts down the light in a uniform way. The filters look a shade of grey. There are variable ND filters available that use two polarised layers, one of which rotates. The best of these are limited to a range of 5 stops. Two grades of variable ND are usually required to cover a full range.
Neutral Density Filter Chart
Pictorial photographs are suitable for display on a wall. They work as stand-alone pieces of art and make good postcards and calendars too. Landscape photographers create pictorial images. My portraits from Italy that look like paintings are pictorial. With a pictorial portrait, it is not necessary to know who the person in the picture is to appreciate the picture.
Portrait There are many interpretations of the word portrait, but to me, it means a photograph, painting, or drawing of a person where the artist controls the elements like the lighting, expression, and occasionally the styling and location too. It doesn't matter if the subject is in a wedding dress or beachwear. To other people, the term portrait could encompass a grab shot taken on the street with the subject unaware of the photographer or perhaps a selfie or even a mug shot taken upon arrest by the police. Indeed any picture where the principal subject is a person can be considered a portrait. The type of portraits that this course title refers to are photographs of people taken with their permission, using some control of the lighting, timing, pose, emotion, and expression.
Smoke You have various options for smoke. This is what I used for Lumen and as you can see, small quantities of smoke can be had with these.
The next step up is this. You can fill a woodland with that.
I now have this battery-operated smoke machine. It’s fabulous but a bit pricey.
Social photography is retail photography, where the person or persons in the pictures are the ones who buy them. The genres of social photography include; maternity or baby portraits, child and family photography, makeover photography, and weddings.
TLCI (Television lighting consistency index) along with CRI (colour rendering index) refers to the accuracy of colour distribution of a light source and at least 95% of either value is needed to be able to produce acceptable skin tones in colour portraits. Greater than 98% is recommended for beautiful skin tone reproduction. In these days of LED illumination, this is more important than ever. Many older or cheaper domestic LED bulbs have poor spectral consistency and are almost impossible to correct for using post-production. Newer LEDs and those designed for photography are far better and produce pleasing colour renditions.
TFP Time for pictures is a process where creatives collaborate and share the output of their creations. A TFP shoot might have a photographer, model, dress designer, hair artist, makeup artist (MUA) and location owner. After the shoot, the photographer edits the photographs and shares the complete shoot with the other collaborators. This is a good way to create editorial content that can give exposure to the whole team. No money changes hands. There is an unwritten rule in the fashion industry and that is If one person on the team gets paid, everyone gets paid.
TTL The term "TTL," is often misunderstood in the realm of photography lighting. It originally stood for "Through The Lens" metering. This was a technique used in the era before mirrorless cameras, where a TTL-compatible flash emitted a 1/16th power pre-flash just before the camera's mirror lifted. The camera's metering system in the prism, would then determine the required flash duration based on the light captured during this pre-flash.
With the advent of mirrorless cameras, the use of 'TTL mode' has evolved. It now refers to the communication process between the camera and the flash, involving a two way exchange of electronic signals. This is why, even when using a remote flash in manual mode, it is often essential to set the flash settings on the camera to TTL mode (This could be camera make specific). The trigger plays a pivotal role in this setup, as it gathers information from the camera and conveys it to the remote flashhead. This data exchange is not just limited to flash settings; it also includes shutter timing and shutter speed details, enabling the trigger to automatically choose between high-speed sync or standard flash sync operations.
Upstage lighting Theatrical stages used to be built on an incline that tilted slightly downward toward the audience. So "downstage" is the lower third of the stage closest to the audience and "upstage" is the upper third furthest away. By using the camera position as a reference point, similar to the audience perspective in the theatre. A light rigged closer to the camera than the subject is downstage, and further away is upstage. By using upstage lighting the shadows will fall towards the camera rather than away from the camera. Shooting into the unlit side of the face looks fabulous.
Window light There is a misconception that windows generate light. they don't. Consider them to be a hole that whatever light there is on either side of the window can pass through. When inside the light that enters through a window is usually from the sky and occasionally from the sun. it is directional light and can't easily be replicated but it can often be controlled with the use of curtains, blinds, and shutters. The light coming through shop windows is a popular light source at night.
Ws The power of a flash unit measured in watt-seconds, which is a unit of energy. It's used to describe the amount of energy a flash can emit in a single burst. A higher watt-second rating means the flash is more powerful. A flash with a higher Ws rating is useful when you need to illuminate a larger area or if you want to use a smaller aperture for greater depth of field or a lower ISO to preserve image quality.