• Rich Engelbrecht


Vocabulary; each profession, each sport, each hobby, and so on, has words that are particular to them. Some cross boundaries and become part of the common language, like “strike out” started with baseball, and is in common use now; for example, in dating, or job hunting, and so on. The point is, however, that photographers have a few of our own words that are commonly used when talking about photography. These words help us express ideas and concepts clearly.

Oh! No! Not a vocabulary test! I gave those up in Junior high school.

No test, but it is important to recognize some of these words in the context of their use. The list of important ones is pretty small:

Aperture – That’s how big the opening is that lets the light into your camera. This is measured in F-Stops. It works like the iris in your eye. Its purpose is to control the Depth of Field; the smaller the opening the more of your image will be in focus. This is similar to when you squint your eyes to bring something into better focus; you are actually controlling the iris opening in your eyes.

Shutter- This is how long the exposure will be; it is the length of time that the sensor [used to be film] is seeing the image you want to capture. Typical shutter speeds are in the 1/60 to 1/200 of a second.

ISO – This is a measure of how sensitive the sensor is to light. Typical range is 100 to 400.

DOF – Depth of Field. This is used in reference to what will be in focus and what will not be in focus based on your camera settings. It is a measure of the distance in front of, and behind your subject, that will be in sharp focus. In close up images that can be sometimes measured in inches, or less.

That’s it! Not so bad. Here’s the hard part. All of these need to be in balance to get a good image. That’s why your camera is really a computer. It figures most of this out for you.

So why is this important? This is where we start getting creative. We can adjust one of those settings to stop a humming bird in flight, adjust another, and we can take pictures of the stars. The trick is knowing which one to adjust and why.

We will get into some details on all this in later columns