Photography can be a pretty mysterious world with a lot of weird slang that general public and amateurs, but also enthusiasts or even pros, find difficult to understand. Are you often confused by some of the things your photographer friends say? Like any hobby or pastime, there are common photography terms that we all come to learn, and then there is some of the more bizarre slang you can spend a lifetime behind the lens never understanding. Below we’ve compiled a collection of common photography slang and obscure camera acronyms to help lift the veil on their mystery.
This is by no means a complete list. In fact, if there’s something we’ve missed feel free to add your own in the comments below – just keep it clean, people…
The Japanese term boke (ボケ), or the Americanized spelling bokeh, discusses the aesthetics of an image’s out-of-focus blur. The 3D “pop” describes the abrupt separation between sharpness and unsharpness that propels a focused subject on top of an unfocused background. The two concepts are closely related but aesthetically separate. A lot of people get these concepts mixed up, assuming one goes with the other, confusing correlation with causation.
In this series, we will attempt to separate the two concepts. First, we will describe each of them individually. Then, we will look at how they tie into each other in making a great image.
Bokeh is the easier concept to wrap your head around. It’s instantaneously describable and noticeable. So let’s start with this one first. Look at the image above. The out-of-focus yellows and greens next to the in-focus model is bokeh. The image really draws you into the model’s eyes because we are naturally drawn to areas of focus and brightness. Think of bokeh as shadow or negative space, bringing out and highlighting the positive space.