Photography Jargon 26 – Part 3

Article by Dhaval Shah

We hope the posts in this series of articles are helping you to gain a better understanding and a simpler insight into the words of complex nature used in photography by professionals or otherwise.  We shall continue the series and words that we find need a simpler\ definition but feel free to send in your queries and we shall address them in future posts.

The words defined in this post are:

Kelvin temperature scale:

In the context of photography, Kelvin (K) is the unit of measurement of the colour temperature of light sources. The scale starts from absolute zero (referred to as zero Kelvin – 0K). As the colour tempertature begins to rise (the colour, starting off with warm reds, gradually transending into oranges, yellows, whites and blues. Visually, the cooler the color, the greater the Kelvin temperature and vice versa. The science behind it is more complex, however, for applying the concept of colour temperature to photography, this basic explanation suffices.


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Lighting Ratio:

When a subject us lit by a light source from an angle, the subject is not lit evenly by the light, hence giving rise to shadows. Lighting ratio is the ratio between the illuminance in the highlight and the illuminance in the shadow. A lighting ratio of 2:1 therefore signifies that the illumination in the highlight areas is twice that of the shadow areas. The image below, of Daniel Day Lewis in character as president lincoln shows a varied lighting ratio.


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In the English language, a metaphor is a figure of speech, where two dissimilar objects or events are implicitly compared to each other in order to imply an idea. Similarly in the context of photography, an image used to imply ideas that are unrelated to the subject matter is a metaphor. The image below of a young child running carefreely is a beautiful metaphor for hope, future etc. A metaphor is what  the viewer interprets keeping in mind his ideas, visions and past experiences. And this image of a potato on a sofa is a humorous take on the term ‘couch potato’ used by a company that markets household furniture

Negative Space:

An image comprises of a subject, and the environment. In the relationship between the subject and environment, when the surroundings are featureless, and add nothing to the image otherwise, it is referred to as negative space.

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Opening Up:

In photography, when we increase the exposure (of the light on the sensor), we do so by changing the aperture to a larger opening. For eg. for f/11 to f/8.



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