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"B" terms

"B" shutter speed setting to "Butterfly lighting"

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B (Bulb) - A shutter speed dial setting that indicates that the shutter will remain open as long as the release button is depressed - also known as the “B setting ” or "Bulb" setting. The "B" setting is used for time exposures.

B&W - Black and white. Also appears as "B and W" and "B/W."

BACK - The removable part of a medium or large-format camera that holds the film or the digital recording surface. "Backs" are attached to the back of the camera, hence their name. They shield the sensor or film from light except when exposed in the camera.

BACKGROUND - The part of a scene that appears to be furthest from the viewer, behind objects in the foreground.

BACK PROJECTION - Projection, usually of a transparency, onto the rear of a translucent screen.

BACKDROP - The background in a studio.

BACKGROUND - The area within the viewfinder that is behind the subject of a photograph.

BACKLIGHTING or BACK-LIGHTING - Light directed at the subject from behind the subject. A backlit subject is darker than one photographed under frontal or side lighting, and may exhibit a rim of light (see Rim lighting) on the subject's edges.

BACKLIGHT COMPENSATION - A function on many cameras that avoids underexposure when the subject is backlit by a light that is bright enough to mislead the camera's normal exposure reading.

BACKSCATTER - An underwater photography term that refers to suspended particles in water that are illuminated, and therefore captured on an image sensor or on film as a cloud or scattering of light dots, when using a flash underwater near the lens.

BACK-UP or BACKUP - A safety measure that involves making a copy of a computer file so that the data is available to be restored in the event that the original becomes lost, corrupted or damaged. The file that's backed up may be a single image, a file folder filled with images or documents, or an entire computer drive.

BALANCE - Compositional harmony of a scene based on the placement of elements of different sizes, shapes and colors.

BARE BULB - Electronic flash unit used without a reflector or diffuser.

BARN DOORS - “Gobos” (light-blocking devices) that attach to studio lights and swivel on hinges (like the doors on a barn) to allow the photographer to control the light’s direction and the width of the light beam.

Professional film is often sold in bulk packages with each individual roll bearing the same BATCH NUMBERS to ensure total exposure consistency.
Professional film is often sold in bulk packages with each individual roll bearing the same BATCH NUMBERS to ensure total exposure consistency.

BARREL DISTORTION - Image distortion caused by a lens defect, where the edge bows outwards like a fisheye or wide-angle lens's image.

BASEBOARD CAMERA - A type of portable camera that is better known as the "Field camera." It is essentially a view camera, because it functions in much the same way and with similar controls and features.

BATCH NUMBERS - Series of numbers imprinted by the manufacturer on the packaging of film and light-sensitive products to indicate that the materials are all from the same production batch, and therefore share closely-similar qualities, such as film speed and contrast.

BATCH PROCESSING - Occurs when a "batch" of digital images on a computer are edited with the same changes applied to all at the same time.

BEAM - A collection of parallel rays of light.

BEST FACE - A feature of the Samsung Galaxy Note II smart phone that is similar to the BLACKBERRY 10 smart phone's "time shift" feature. (See "Blackberry" below.)

BELLOWS - A folding sleeve-like device usually made of fabric that fits between the lens and the camera that allows for extended separation of lens and image sensor or film plane. A bellows is used in close-up photography, and performs a function similar to that of extension tubes, except that the tubes are fixed and the bellows is minutely adjustable.

BETWEEN-THE-LENS SHUTTER - aka Leaf Shutter - A shutter built into the lens as opposed to a lens in the camera body, and situated between two lens elements. Most cameras have shutters located in the camera body, known as focal-plane shutters. Leaf shutters have moveable overlapping leaves that open to let in light and close to block it out.

BICUBIC INTERPOLATION - The preferred type of interpolation, wherein the value of a new pixel is calculated from the values of the eight nearest pixels. Bicubic interpolation produces the best results when compared with bilinear (see below) or nearest-neighbor interpolation. It creates greater contrast to offset blurring that's brought about by the process of interpolation.

BILINEAR INTERPOLATION - A type of interpolation that calculates the value of a new pixel from the values of four immediately-neighboring pixels that are situated to the left, the right and the top and the bottom of the new one. It needs less processing and is less desirable than bicubic interpolation.

BIT - From binary digit, is a basic unit of data storage, and has a value of either 0 or 1.
Eight bits = one byte (See "Byte" below)

BIT DEPTH - Determines the maximum number of colors that can be displayed at one time. Bit depth is the number of bits per pixel, which determines the number of colors that the image can display. The minimum requirement for a color photograph is eight bits per pixel.

BITMAP - A bitmap is a picture that is an arrangement of tiny squares of different colors, called pixels. For the file extension, ".bmp," see .BMP below. Bitmap is the form in which digital images are stored. Digital images are made from pixels arranged in a checkerboard-like grid known as a bitmap.

BLACKBERRY 10 TIME SHIFT - Time shift is a feature offered on the BlackBerry 10 smart phone from Research in Motion who say that it allows the photographer who takes a picture with the phone's built-in camera "to go forward or backwards in time." Essentially the camera rapidly takes a number of pictures milliseconds apart when the shutter button is depressed. The user can blend the pictures to compose an "ideal" photograph - one, for example, in which all the people in the final photo may be smiling or have their eyes open.

BLEACHED OUT - Term employed by some people when referring to overexposure.

BLEED - Describes a photographic print that extends to the edges of the paper (beyond the trim marks on a page) and has no visible border or defined margin area.

Any image that is made larger than the original negative or transparency is technically a BLOW-UP, but in common usage, a blow-up is considered to be an enlargement that is 8
Any image that is made larger than the original negative or transparency is technically a BLOW-UP, but in common usage, a blow-up is considered to be an enlargement that is 8" X 10" in size or bigger.

BLOW-UP - As a noun, blow-up (or blowup) is another term for an enlargement of a photographic print. As a verb, it is the actual enlarging of the image, as in “Please blow up this negative [or image file] to an 11" X 14" print.”

BLOWN-OUT - refers to an image's highlight area when the exposure causes the highlights to be pure white with no detail.

BLUR - Denotes a photograph in which movement, either camera movement, zoom lens movement or movement within the scene (e.g. a subject in motion), is recorded at a slower shutter speed than is necessary to “freeze” the motion as a sharp image. Blur is often intentionally created by a photographer who wishes to convey a sense of motion.

.BMP - (Bitmap) The extension for an uncompressed image file format created by Microsoft that is mainly used in Windows-based applications.

The out of focus area on the left is soft, whereas the blurred area on the right shows harder-edged circles in the highlights.
The out of focus area on the left is soft, whereas the blurred area on the right shows harder-edged circles in the highlights.

BOKEH - (sometimes spelled boke) - refers to the blur, or more specifically, the quality of the blur in out-of-focus areas of a photograph. There is no firm definition for what is good or bad bokeh, since its degree of quality is in the eyes of the beholder. However it seems to be generally accepted that softer, smoother edges for blurred areas are preferred.

BOOT TIME - The time it takes for a digital camera to be ready to take pictures after turning it on.

BOUNCE FLASH - Flash illumination of a subject by reflection off a surface (such as a ceiling or wall) as opposed to direct flash, which is flash light aimed straight at the subject. (Sometimes also called "Bounce lighting," especially when the light source is not from a flash.)

BOUNCE LIGHT or BOUNCED LIGHT - Light reflected off a surface before striking (illuminating) the subject.

BOX CAMERA - Simple camera with a fixed, single-element lens and a light-tight box to hold the film/sensor. The shutter and aperture are usually pre-determined and unalterable (typically 1/25 sec at ƒ11.) Early consumer cameras developed by George Eastman were box cameras (e.g. the “Brownie” camera). They could not be focused, per se. The lens was set to a hyperfocal distance that gave acceptably-sharp pictures if the subject was a given distance from the camera and correct exposure depended upon bright sun illuminating the scene.

BRACKET or BRACKETING - Refers to taking a series of pictures, at least three, of the same subject with varying exposures - (1) the main exposure, which is presumed to be correct, but may not be; (2) an overexposure, generally of one or s stop’s difference from the main exposure, and (3) an underexposure of one or two stop’s difference from the main exposure. The theory behind exposure bracketing is that the photographer is not certain that the main exposure is best for the subject matter, and the subsequent different exposures will provide “insurance” that at least one of the images will be acceptably exposed. Sometimes, though, the photographer may simply want to see the effects of different exposures of a scene. The term “bracket” is analogous with grammatical brackets or parentheses, where they are located on either end of a phrase. “Bracketed” exposures fall on either side of the exposure that is presumed to be correct. Note: White balance can also be bracketed in many digital cameras.

BRIDGE CAMERA - The term originated in reference to film cameras that "bridged the gap" between point-and-shoot cameras and SLRs. Today, a bridge camera refers mainly to a digital camera with a fixed lens that has some of the characteristics of both point-and-shoot and dSLR cameras, usually with a relatively small sensor. Bridge cameras are sometimes referred to as Superzoom cameras because their lenses typically have a very wide range of focal lengths.

BRIGHTNESS - The degree of luminance or light intensity in an image or a scene. Pure white has maximum brightness; pure black the minimum.

BRIGHTNESS RANGE - The range of brightness between an image's highlights and shadow areas.

BROAD LIGHTING - Broad lighting occurs when the main light illuminates the side of the subject's face that is turned toward the camera.

The BROWNIE is the original consumer camera, developed by George Eastman in 1888.
The BROWNIE is the original consumer camera, developed by George Eastman in 1888.

BROWNIE - Brand name of Kodak’s first consumer box cameras.

BROWSE - To look randomly through a collection - for example, a number of images or a website's pages.

B.S. - B.S. refers to the British Standard for film speed measurement. BSI refers to the British Standards Institute which determined the B.S. system. It employed the same film speed numbering system as the American Standards Association- ASA. Both are now defunct, having been replaced by ISO for rating of the sensitivity of film, photographic materials and a digital camera's exposure sensitivity.

BUBBLE JET - Canon's name for its inkjet printing system.

BUFFER - Temporary storage of data so that other applications can continue to run while the data is being transferred.

BUILT-IN FLASH - A flash unit that is an integral part of a camera, attached to the camera body. Some built-in flash heads may be designed to automatically pop up and fire when the ambient light is insufficient for proper exposure.

BUILT-IN LIGHT METER - A reflective exposure meter that is a built-in component of a camera.

BUILT-IN METER - See Built-In Light Meter (above).

BULB - A setting that permits the camera's shutter to remain open so long as the shutter release button is depressed. (Note that the button must remain depressed. The shutter closes when the shutter button is no longer held down.) Used for extreme low lighting situations, situations where blur is desired or where proper exposure requires a long shutter opening.

BULK FILM - Film produced in very long, uncut strips - rolls that are too long to fit into cameras not equipped with a bulk camera back accessory. Many photographers buy their film in bulk, then load the bulk film into a “bulk film loader” which permits them to cut the bulk film into however many frames they wish, and to load the smaller strips into film cartridges that permit film reloading. It is an economical way to purchase film.

BULK FILM is often loaded into a bulk film loader so that it can be manually loaded into smaller fim cassettes of any length, usually at great savings to the photographer.
BULK FILM is often loaded into a bulk film loader so that it can be manually loaded into smaller fim cassettes of any length, usually at great savings to the photographer.

BURNING (1) or Burning-in - Also known as "Printing in." In a darkroom, providing extra exposure to an area of the print to make it darker, while blocking light from the rest of the print. (2) The act of copying data (e.g. photographic images) onto a CD or a DVD, also known as "writing."

BURST RATE - The number of photographs per minute that can be taken with a given camera. Time delays occur because the camera must save image data when a picture is taken and get ready for the next shot to be captured.

BUTTERFLY LIGHTING - In a studio, the main light is placed fairly high, directly in front of the face - aimed at the center of the nose. It casts a shadow shaped like a butterfly beneath the nose.

BYTE - (pronounced "bite") is the standard unit of digital storage. A byte is composed of 8 bits. (See "Bit" above.)
8 bits = 1 byte (e.g. 10110101)
1 kilobyte (KB) = 1,024 bytes
1 megabyte (MB) = 1,048,576 bytes or 1,024 kilobytes
1 gigabyte (GB) = 1,024 megabytes 1 terabyte (TB) = 1024 gigabytes (1,099,511,627,776 bytes)

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