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"P" terms

"Painting with light" to "Push processing"

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P&S - Point and shoot (See "point and shoot" below.)

PAINTING WITH LIGHT - Occurs when the photographer incrementally lights an otherwise darkened scene using a handheld flashlight or other small light source while the shutter remains open during a time exposure. The light is added to the scene in the manner of an artist using a “paintbrush of light”.

PALLADIUM PRINT - Palladium is a silvery-white metal that appears black in powder form. A palladium print is a photographic monochrome print that is made using palladium. Like platinum prints, they are very stable and have a high degree of permanence. Palladium prints are generally warmer and more sepia-like than platinum prints. Palladium/platinum prints, using both metals, have also been produced.

PANCHROMATIC or "Pan" - Photographic film sensitive to all visible colors. Pan films record all colors in tones of roughly similarly relative brightness as seen by the eye in the original scene.

PANNING blurs the surroundings but keeps your moving subject sharp.
PANNING blurs the surroundings but keeps your moving subject sharp.

PANNING - Technique that involves taking a picture while moving the camera at a relatively slow shutter speed. It is almost always used when tracking a moving object, such as a race car, as it travels across the film plane or sensor plane. When properly carried out, the object is in focus or at least rendered relatively sharply while its surroundings are blurred. The objective is to show motion.

PANORAMA - (1) An extended, wide view or pictorial representation of a landscape or other scene. (2) A camera mode that produces a proportionately wider or taller than normal image, depending on the camera’s orientation.

PANORAMIC CAMERA - Camera with a lens that rotates to scan a scene, all the while projecting the image onto an abnormally wide film frame. The broad sweep of the rotating lens records the scene without distortion, and is very useful for photographing expansive landscape scenes and large groups of people.

PANORAMIC FORMAT - A long, narrow image format for panoramic photographs (panoramas). Note that a panorama, although typically also landscape format (longer horizontally) may also be portrait format (longer vertically).

PAPARAZZO - A photographer who shoots candid, surreptitious or surprise shots, but not posed pictures, of celebrities and their families, often for publication in tabloids and magazines about the famous. The name derives from a photographer character in Federico Fellini’s film, La Dolce Vita, and is attributed to a hotel keeper in Catanzaro, Italy, named Coriolano Paparazzo, whom Fellini met. Many paparazzi are obnoxiously aggressive in their pursuit of movie stars and other celebrities, seeking to take pictures that show them in unflattering, embarrassing situations. (Originally known as a “street photographer”.)

PAPARAZZI – The plural of paparrazo.

PAPER SAFE - Light-tight container in which unexposed photographic paper is stored and easily accessed, for use in a darkroom.

The twin-lens reflex camera shares the viewfinder cameras problem of PARALLAX ERROR because the lens you look through is not the lens that takes the picture.
The twin-lens reflex camera shares the viewfinder cameras problem of PARALLAX ERROR because the lens you look through is not the lens that takes the picture.

PARALLAX - The difference between what is seen through the viewfinder and what the camera records on film or its digital image sensor, caused by the viewfinder being separate from the camera lens.

PARALLAX ERROR - Also known as “Parallax effect” - the viewfinder camera’s main disadvantage, making it almost useless for careful composition of close-up subjects. The scene viewed by the photographer through the camera’s viewing frame is different from the scene the lens will capture because the viewing frame is offset from the lens.

PARALLEL LIGHT RAYS - Light rays that proceed equally distant from each other through their whole course.

PARTIAL METERING - A name used by Canon to describe one of its exposure metering modes. Partial metering is similar to spot metering, except that the measuring area (the "spot") is larger than that of most spot meters. It is considered to be particularly useful when photographing black-lit subjects.

PCX - A digital image format that has been around for a while, and has a number of variations. Created by ZSoft for PC Paintbrush, it is similar to the BMP filetype, so that most image-editing software supports it. It is mainly used on Windows-based computers, but its simplicity makes it compatible with Mac and Linus platforms as well. It has moderate lossless file compression capabilities.

PDF - (Portable Document Format) - an image file type created in Adobe PhotoShop that results in pictures that are viewable with Adobe Acrobat, so someone (Mac or PC-user) who doesn't have PhotoShop can still view the image. It is often used in forms creation and for documents that require their layout, fonts and images to appear unchanged from the original.

PENCIL [of light] - A collection of converging or diverging light rays.

PENTAPRISM - Five-sided prism in SLR cameras that renders a correctly-oriented view of the focusing screen.

PERFORATIONS - Holes punched on the sides of 35 mm film with regular spacing so that they line up with sprockets on the camera's film take-up mechanism.

PERSPECTIVE - Technique of depicting volumes and spacial relationships (a scene in three-dimensions) on a flat surface (an image having two dimensions).

PHOTIC - Of or pertaining to light.

PHOTICS - The science of light.

PHOTO - (1)Photograph; (2) Greek for "light"

PHOTOBOMB - A photograph containing a person whom the photographer did not want in it.

PHOTO ESSAY - A written work that relies on accompanying photographs to help tell a story.

PHOTOFINISHING - The act of developing films, printing photographs, etc., including prints made from digital image files.


PHOTOFLOOD LAMP is an incandescent light source using a tungsten filament bulb set in a reflector.

PHOTOGENIC - Being an attractive subject for photography, or looking good in a photograph.

PHOTOGRAMMETRY - Process of making surveys and maps using photographs.

PHOTOGRAPH - (1) A picture produced by photography. (2) To take a photograph.

PHOTOGRAPHER - Someone who takes photographs, especially as a profession. It could be said that a good photographer is a combination of an artist, craftsman and scientist, since knowledge and skills from all three professions play a part in good photography.

PHOTOGRAPHER'S LIGHT - Sunlight is usually warmer and more complimentary to skin tones an hour or less before the sun goes down and around fifteen minutes after the sun has set. This quality of light is sometimes referred to as Photographer's light. The angle of the light at this time, which is known as the "Golden hour," can provide depth to portraits and landscape photography.

PHOTOGRAPHIC - Of or pertaining to photography.

The word
The word "PHOTOGRAPHY" derives from the Greek and means, literally, "light writing."

PHOTOGRAPHY - The process or art of producing images of objects on a photosensitive surface such as a film or an electronic sensor by the chemical action of light. The word "photography" derives from the Greek and means, literally, “light writing.” - The internet's #1 guide to better photography. (It's a good thing we're not biased.)

PHOTOMICROGRAPH - A photograph taken through a microscope.

PHOTOMONTAGE - Another name for a composite photograph, which is made by combining pictures from different sources into a single image.

PHOTOSITE - A tiny, light-sensitive electrode on the sensor of a digital camera that records one pixel of an image.

PHOTO SLAVE - Also called a "slave unit." A light-sensitive triggering device that is built in or attached to an electronic flash unit, causing the flash to fire simultaneously with another flash unit.

PICT - An image file type used mainly to transfer images between programs on a Mac computer, but it is also supported by several PC applications. PICT has been largely replaced by PDF.

PICTURE CARD - A removable device for storing images taken by a digital camera, more often referred to as a "Memory card."

PINCUSHION DISTORTION - A type of lens distortion that occurs when the edges of a photograph bend inward. It is most easily noticeable when straight lines in a scene are distorted towards the center of a picture of the scene.

PINHOLE CAMERA - A camera that uses a very small hole, as if made by a pin instead of a lens, for light to enter and form an image on the film or other light-sensitive medium. See Pinhole camera.

A digital image is made up of tiny
A digital image is made up of tiny "pixels" - squares of color, the number of which per inch determines the image's quality.

PIXEL - Abbreviation for "picture element", a pixel is a small square of colored light that forms a digital image. It is the smallest unit in a digital image. Think of a pixel as a single small tile in a large mosaic.

PIXELATION or PIXELIZATION - Occurs when the pixels in an image are noticeably visible. The effect can be seen when a small image file is grossly enlarged beyond the number of pixels needed for a sharp image.

PLANE - A plane is a flat, two-dimensional surface. When used as in "film plane," it refers to the flat surface of film, as opposed to the edge or end of film. It can also refer to the part of a camera where the frame of a film to be exposed is located.

PLATINOTYPE - (1) The process of photographic printing on papers coated with platinum-based materials. (2) A print made by such a process.

PLATINUM PRINT - A platinum print is a photographic monochrome print that is made using the semi-precious metal, platinum. Monochrome printing (mainly black and white) is commonly done using silver-based materials, such as are found in most ordinary photographic printing papers, to make paper photo-sensitive. They have an inherent impermanence. The prints won't last a long, long time. In the late 1800s, the platinotype process resulted in a more permanent print. Platinum is highly stable and wont tarnish in air. Instead of the image resting inside a binder on the surface of the paper, the image of a platinum print is actually absorbed into the paper's fibres. A platinum print takes on the texture of the paper. It is softer in appearance, appears to have more depth, has rich blacks and a highly-delicate tonal range. Platinum prints, in other words, are beautiful prints, with soft details, great tonal rendition and deep blacks. And, they are among the most permanent photographic images, capable of lasting perhaps thousands of years. They are ideal for fine art photography and the preservation and display of great photographs.

PLUG-IN - When referring to a digital image-editing computer application (such as Adobe Photoshop), a plug-in is a software addition to the application that enhances its capabilities, typically to create visual effects or to increase the range and/or types of the application's image-processing filters.

PNG - Pronounced "ping," stands for "Portable Network Graphic" format. It is characterized by its ability to compress image files without a big quality reduction. PNG was developed to replace GIF and JPEG formats on the internet, but it doesn't appear to have caught on to any great extent.

POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA - Also referred to as P&S, Consumer cameras and Compact cameras (the more-accurate name). P&S cameras are simple, automatic cameras - generally associated with amateur photographers - that permit the taking of a picture by simply aiming it at a subject and pressing the shutter release button. Pictures taken by P&S cameras are referred to as snapshots.

POLARIZING FILTER - A polarizing filter ("Polarizer" or "Polarizing screen") is an adjustable filter, with an inner ring that screws onto the lens and an outer ring that can be rotated. Turning the outer ring reduces or increases the filter’s effectiveness. The polarizer absorbs glare, reducing or eliminating reflections and darkening blue skies. It works by transmitting light that travels in one plane while absorbing light that travels in opposing planes.

PORTRAIT - A picture of a person or persons that captures their likeness, especially their face. (See Portrait photography.)

PORTRAIT FORMAT - A rectangular image that has its vertical sides longer than its horizontal sides, as opposed to a "landscape format," which has longer horizontal sides.

PORTFOLIO - A collection of selected photographs intended to illustrate a photographer's style and range of photography, or in the case of a model's portfolio, a collection of photographs and/or tearsheets that demonstrate his or her modeling abilities and experience.

POSE - The position assumed by a subject in relation to the camera, including the angling and placement of head, hands, feet, etc.

POSING - Positioning of a subject in relation to the camera. Posing is generally controlled by the photographer, and sometimes by a skilled model.

POSITIVE - Opposite of a negative - An image, such as print or a slide, with the same tonal values and colors as the original scene.

A PRINT is a photograph printed on paper.
A PRINT is a photograph printed on paper.

POSTERIZATION - occurs when a gradual or smooth tonal transition in an image appears or is made to appear as an abrupt change from one tone to another. Digitally, it can be achieved by limiting the number of colors in an image so that the change from one tone to another is sudden, rather than continuous and gradual. Posterization can be noticed, for example, in an image that has a relatively large area of color that appears banded where the tonal changes should instead appear to be gradual.

PPI - Pixels per [linear] inch, a measure of an image's resolution. Can also be referred to as Spatial resolution.

PREFOCUS - The act of focusing a lens before taking a picture. Cameras equipped with autofocus can usually be prefocused by halfway depressing the shutter release button, which will also generally activate the exposure meter to take a reading.

PRESETS - A digital camera's settings that have already been programmed, based on specific color temperatures, to achieve proper or close-to-proper white balance under specific lighting conditions. Typically, these might include settings for shooting under daylight with options for overcast or cloudy lighting, sunrise and sunset, bright sun or shade, fluorescent and tungsten lighting.

PRESSURE PLATE - A smooth plate found on the inside of the camera back that is forced towards the front of the camera by springs, causing it to hold the film evenly in place for exposure.

PRESSURE SENSITIVE - When using a graphics tablet (a computer input device on which a user hand-draws images or writes text with a special stylus, just as you would draw using a pencil and paper), you can achieve different effects by increasing or decreasing stylus pressure.

PREVIEW BUTTON - Many cameras are equipped with a depth of field preview button that, when pressed and held in, stops the lens down to the preselected aperture, allowing you to see how much foreground or background are in focus.

PRIME LENS - A fixed focal length (FFL) lens, as opposed to a zoom lens, which has a variable focal length (VFL). A prime lens generally has better optical quality and a larger maximum aperture.

PRINT - A photographic image printed on paper, generally a positive image made from a negative or from a digital image file. (Also refers to a photograph of a model that appears in print - in a newspaper or magazine, for example.)

PRINTING FRAME - A darkroom device used to hold negatives against photographic paper for contact printing.

A printing frame holds paper and negatives (in a negative carrier) in contact with each other, and keeps them flat to make a sharp contact print.
A printing frame holds paper and negatives (in a negative carrier) in contact with each other, and keeps them flat to make a sharp contact print.

PRINTING-IN - Also known as "Burning 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.

PRINT SOLARIZATION - See "Solarization" in this Glossary.

PRO-AM - From Professional and Amateur, this is another term for Prosumer (See below).

PROCESSING - Producing an image (either negative or positive) from exposed film or photographic paper by developing, fixing and washing it.

PROGRAM EXPOSURE - A camera mode that automatically determines aperture and shutter speed for proper exposure.

PROJECTED FRAME - (Also known as "Viewfinder" or simply "Finder.") A viewing device on a camera used by the photographer to see the field of view taken in by the camera’s lens and the portion of the view that will be recorded on film or the image sensor.

PROOF - A sample image intended to be used for the purpose of selecting a final image. Proof prints are often stamped with the word "proof" on the face of the image to identify them as proofs and sometimes to prevent their being used in place of a final image. Digital image files may also be considered as proofs when they contain a watermark to prevent them from being used as a final picture.

PROSUMER - Initially, Prosumer was a marketing term used for a camera that was intended to appeal to either an amateur (consumer) or a professional photographer - i.e a professional consumer. Now, it has come to mean a camera with features that will appeal to photographers who have advanced beyond beginner or amateur, but are not professionals. Sometimes called a Pro-Am camera. One type of prosumer camera is the ZLR or Zoom reflex camera.

PSD - (PhotoShop Document) is an image file type created in Adobe PhotoShop. It is uncompressed and contains data on editing that is done to the image. A PSD file is essentially PhotoShop's version of a TIFF file. It lets you save a picture you are working on with its layers, channels and other image-editing data intact. PSD files must be converted to another image file type before use.

PULLING FILM - Purposefully overexposing and underdeveloping film to reduce its effective film speed. (The opposite of "Push processing.") The purposeful overexposure is sometimes called "downrating."

PUSHING FILM - Purposefully exposing film to less light than its ISO indicates, sometimes called "uprating." To obtain images that are properly exposed from film that has been pushed requires over-development of the film (see "Push Processing" below).

PUSH PROCESSING - Increasing development time of a film to force an increase in its effective speed, generally done to normalize results when the film has been underexposed. Also known as "Forced development."

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