Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part IV

Land IquanaSaturday, our last full day, was giant land tortoise day on Santa Cruz Island. There were two main activities for the day and you had your choice about when to do each, morning or afternoon. In the morning, we went to the Charles Darwin Research Station and toured it and the grounds and saw the giant tortoises there. It was enlightening, and frankly for many would have been better to have been at the beginning of the cruise. We saw George there of course. There was good shopping at the Darwin Center store and at the National Park store. Then we were in town (a short walk) at Puerto Ayora for more shopping. There are a number of good stores there. In the afternoon we took a half hour bus ride to a private farm where they allow the animals to roam free. We saw more than 50 giant tortoises in the wild there, and lots of egrets. It was amazing. We even got to see a rarity; two giant tortoises mating. The male was really into it, thrusting periodically and braying so loudly we could hear him from hundreds of yards away. After we returned to town, there was time for last minute shopping.

Giant Galapagos TortoiseThat night we had a great send-off cocktail party during which they showed a slide show presentation of the photos the Naturalists had taken during the week of the animals and us, accompanyied by music. The show, and the outtakes were put on a CD and given to each of us after the presentation to take home. After a going away meal, a local Folkloric Show was held in the lounge.

Sunday morning we got our bags out the door by 7:00am. We got them back at the hotel in Quito. At 8:30am, after breakfast we were off to the dock at Baltra near where we had docked overnight, by zodiac, then the 5 minute bus ride to the airport. I should add here that it was Sunday night that the virtue of choosing a 90 passenger boat over a 50 passenger boat came full to the fore. While anchored that night off Baltra, there was a strong breeze which kept our boats orientation steady with the bow pointing directly to shore. Unfortunately, there was a cross current 90 degrees off the wind which severely rocked the boat all night. Most everyone admitted they got little if any sleep that night and a couple said they fell out of bed. More than a few were queezy. At the airport, speaking to the Lindblad group we found they had a much tougher time in there smaller boat that night. There we checked in en-mass, got our Official Galapagos stamp in our passports and went to the VIP lounge to await our flight to Quito by Tame. The plane was again great, with a light lunch served. We were met by our Quito guides that afternoon in the airport and bussed to the Marriott. After getting our rooms which had been preassigned, our luggage was brought up and we were off for an afteroon of shopping at the big market and galleria via Celebrity bus. The market was fun where there were all sorts of things to purchase and bargaining with the merchants (cash only here). That evening dinner at the hotel was included at the Marriott's top restaurant. We were free to eat there at a time of our discretion.

Monday morning, Celebrity provided bus service to the airport for our return to our homes starting at 5:00am. Most everyone was off then, or at 6:00am, or like us and most of the group, at 7:00am. More than 50 of the 90 on the cruise were off to Miami on American's flight at 9:55am. We said our goodbyes again in the customs area of Miami International as we dispersed throughout the US.

This was one fabulous trip. I could have easily enjoyed another week there. I'd go back very soon if I had the chance, though I do have other places I very much want to visit and see. The Galapagos are an incredible setting; the animals, both land and marine, the plant life, the scenery, were all unbelievable, like no where else on Earth.

Celebrity didn't miss a trick in organizing and running the trip, on the pre/post cruise and the cruise itself, from the carefully run fabulously guided excursions to the little touches like the wonderful snacks after a long morning or afternoon excursion, waiting for us at the grill. The crew was incredible and got a well deserved standing ovation at the end slide presentation Saturday evening, from the Naturalist with whom we spent so much time, to the waiters, the bar tenders, the stateroom attendants, the officers, the chefs, everyone.

The tour guides in Quito were wonderful too.

The Xpedition is a very classy 90 passenger yacht, with good room sizes and all the necessary amenities one looks for from a luxury cruise.

Of course it didn't hurt that the 90 passengers were a sensational group, all very motivated about this incredible journey.

I can't say enough good about the Xpedition, Celebrity, and this Galapagos journey. We got much more than our money's worth, if you want to put it that way too.

It's a trip and journey of a lifetime, which anyone who can afford it should take.

Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part III

Celebrity XpeditionUpon arriving on the boat the events of the day were explained, as well as a few simple rules which needed to be followed (for example about getting on and off the boat, and we were taken to our stateroom. We quickly explored the boat, and then went to the hot tub. By the time we got back (20 minutes) our luggage was at the room. We dressed, and unpacked and headed to Darwin's for lunch. By this time the boat was on the move to North Seymour from Baltra.

Blue Footed BoobySoon after we had the obligatory Life Boat drill. At 4:30 that afternoon, we took the high intensity tour of North Seymour Island for about 1.5 hours, 2 KM. Along the boulder strewn trail we saw frigates, land iguanas, sea lions, Blue Footed Boobies and marine iguanas. There was a low intensity zodiac ride available as well. Our hike was more than we could have hoped for. We saw zillions of animals, took lots of photos, and learned a huge amount from the naturalist. The animals are unafraid of people because they haven't been harmed by us in past years. You stand right in the midst of them, even birds. It's actually quite unnerving at first.

That evening there was a Welcome Captain's cocktail party prior to our evening briefing for the next day and our signup for the next day's activities, and followed by an excellent dinner.

By the way the dress code is CASUAL. No bathing suits are allowed in Darwin's or at dinner and some kind of footwear is required at dinner, but that's about it.

Kicker RockOn Monday we took an early morning 7:00am circumnavigation around Kicker Rock after a continental breakfast at the Beagle Grill. It was fantastic. The rock itself is fabulous, with light early morning light coming through the middle where there is a big break in the rock and giving an amazing picture. There we saw sea lions, frigates, Sally Lightfoot crabs, etc.

That morning we went to Puerto Baquero Moreno and the Human History Museum which was quite interesting, followed by shopping in town. We went down to the beach there where there were many sea lions (cubs too) and crabs, as well as marine iguanas. The harbor was lovely. Lunch at the Beagle Grill in particular was great with local grilled fish being the best choice.

After lunch, anyone who wanted to snorkel during the cruise got to obtain, and try-on the equipment, which was then your particular equipment for the duration of the cruise. Wetsuits where then hung in the lockers for you by room number and the rest of the equipment was hung next to the lockers on deck 3 in numbered bags.

American OystercatchersThat afternoon we went to Espanola Island and a High Intensity 3 KM hike over rough terrain. We saw marine iquanas, hawks, sea lions, mocking birds, yellow finches, etc. At the cliffs the scenery was unreal and the blow hole fabulous. We saw a number of Boobies here including nesting ones. There were medium and low intensity activities too.

That night we were entertained by Jacobo on the piano in the Lounge prior to the next day's briefing followed by dinner at Darwin's.

Tuesday morning after breakfast there was an 8:00am medium intensity trip at Cormorant point (wet landing) at Floreana Island. We got to learn and see about the volcanic history of the site. We saw all kinds of plant species unique to the area and visited a large brackish pond where we saw numerous flamingos, stilts, and pintailed ducks. We crossed over to a beach area where we saw numerous sea turtles close to shore. We snorkeled from the beach and saw sea turtles, sharks and barracudas under the sea. The number of fish was staggering here. Advanced snorkeling was available from Champion's island in the late morning, but I didn't go there myself.

It's interesting to note that upon returning to the boat each time from an excursion (land or sea) there was always a snack of a sandwich and some pastry, plus fruit based drinks right at the grill area to tide us over for lunch or dinner, and of course the bars were always open. This was quite tasty and we thought special.

Lunch was in Darwin's or you could go to the sandwich station at the grill.

Hawksbill TurtleAt 2:00pm I went to Mystery Bay for advanced snorkeling. It was great. I saw sea turtles, sea lions, rays, fish of all kinds and colors, and penquins. You have to be a strong swimmer to do the advanced snorkeling or you'll tire rapidly from the currents and the cold (even in the wet suit) and spend almost all your time in the zodiac instead of the water which would be a waste.

At 4:00pm there was the trip to the Baroness Lookout where people saw egrets, herons and plenty of sea turtles upon landing. It was just a short hike for this one, up the hill to the lookout.

Jacobo was at the piano again in the Lounge before the briefing, and after dinner the deck officers took us star gazing from deck 6 to learn about the southern sky.

Wednesday morning we were at Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island. Here we took a hike along a beautiful beach and found many Sea Turtle nesting areas. The brackish ponds had mostly dried up, so unfortunately there were no stilts or flamingos there. From the beach we went snorkeling, and this was the best snorkeling of the cruise. The water was crystal clear and the number of fish, sea turtles, parrot fish, sea lions, mantas, barracudas, rays, and sharks was extraordinary. Since the water was so clear, underwater photography was very easy.

This day we had a great Mexican buffet for lunch and in the early afternoon another great lecture, this one on the Human History of the Galapagos.

Galapagos PenquinsThat afternoon at 4:00pm we went to Bartolome Island and a high intensity climb to the top of the bill hill 374 feet up. Buzz Aldrin called the landscape of Bartolome Island the closest to what he saw on the moon, anywhere on Earth. It is outre-worldly. Down at the bottom again, we cruised around the area and saw many many penguins. There were other activities offered here too, including snorkeling and a hike across the island's short isthmus.

I'd like to add something here about the intensity of the different excursions. If you're in decent shape and prepared to take a long hike (3 hours) with good shoes over somewhat rough terrain then the high intensity excursions are for you. You don't have to be a twenty something to do this. Many of us were in our 60's and some in their 70's and one in here 80's (she does lots of walking and working out at home) who did all the high intensity activities. Now my wife and I are in the gym several days a week at home, but active people our age can definitely do these hikes. For those that can't, the low intensity walks and zodiac rides will still give those taking them a chance to see amazing scenery and tons of amazing animals.

After the briefing and dinner we had a hilarious "Crossing the Line" party in the lounge lead by the Naturalists in "pirate and Neptune costume" right as we crossed the Equator into the northern hemisphere. They crowned their queen and we all toasted the queen with champaign and had a great time. We were all give a "Crossing the Line" certificate at the party.

Thursday found us at Isabela and Fernandina Islands. In the morning we zodiacced into Elizabeth Bay and saw tons of sea creatures and Penquins, as well as the flightless Galapagos Cormerant. On the way back we had a real treat. A large number of Boobies and Pelicans had spotted a large school of fish and went into a feeding frenzy around us. We got to see them "dive bomb" into the ocean and go fishing. It was a sight not to believe.

At lunch we were treated to a sumptuous Ecuadorian Lunch Buffet in both Darwin's and the Beagle Grill. Was that lunch every fabulous!

Later we were treated to a wonderful lecture about the History of Conservation in the Galapagos.

That afternoon at 4:00pm we went on a high intensity 2.5 hike on Fernandina Island. The volcanic scenery was amazing. We saw a huge Marine Iquana colony there and more flightless Cormorants, as well as the ever present Sally Lightfoot crabs. The volcanic scenery against the blue ocean presented a scenery unlike any elsewhere on Earth. As usual, there was a low intensity activity in zodiacs available.

That evening we were all outside on decks 4 and 5 for a great barbecue "Under the Stars," after our piano entertainment in the lounge, followed by our nightly briefing for the next day.

Fur SealFriday we were at Santiago and Santa Cruz Islands. In the morning we made a wet landing at James Bay at Santiago Island. We walked along the beach and volcano flows, some of which were still warm after having been formed three years before. We saw marine iguanas, lots of various birds, but the highlight here was the Galapagos Fur Seas, which set up camp in the inter-tidal pools of collapsed lava tubes. The scenery again was unreal here. Each day we normally sea some kind of iguana, and crabs, and usually boobies, but each island has species unto itself and very different land and seascapes. It's just amazing. After the hike we went snorkeling again, and the snorkeling was excellent again with many species on display.

After Italian day for lunch we saw a wonderful IMAX movie about the Galapagos.

Then at 4:00pm we went out to Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island. Here we went inland on a high intensity hike in search of land iguanas, which have been rare for us so far. We did come across three large land iguanas and various kinds of cactus on the hike. One was a huge yellow and red male, several feet long. Afterward was our last snorkeling time. Unfortunately the last was not the best. The water was very murky and all of us cut our time in the water short and went back to the boat.

That evening, after our piano entertainment, briefing and dinner, we had our movie night with popcorn and milkshakes while watching Winged Migration.

Go to Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part IV

Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part II

Celebrity Xpedition StateroomThe boat is excellent, but can't be considered in the same breadth as cruise ship. This is a boat, or better described as a large yacht. The lowest deck holds the crew's quarters. The next deck, Marina is the lowest deck of passenger staterooms. All staterooms are outside staterooms throughout the boat. This deck's rooms are the smallest. The restaurant, Darwin's, where all meals were served (you could eat elsewhere too as will be mentioned) is at the aft on this deck. Darwin's can hold all 90 passengers at once. At the back of this deck, was the staging area for leaving for excursions and the snorkeling equipment storage.

Celebrity Xpedition Discovery LoungeThe Vista deck is the next up, where we stayed. While the staterooms are not the same size as those on a full sized cruise ship they have plenty of room on all decks. The bathroom size is excellent with plenty of storage. Our stateroom was made up to have the beds as one bed as we requested. There was a night table, a desk with refrigerator, full with bottled water. There was a small sofa and coffee table. The window was large. There were two closets with plenty of shelves for all belongings and plenty of room under the bed to store all luggage. Our room had a problem with a faulty ceiling slat which was fixed immediately upon mentioning it to guest relations (mid ships on this deck). This deck also includes the Discovery Lounge with a wonderful bar area. The Discovery Lounge held all briefings and entertainment, and was a meeting area. It could hold all passengers easily. In the DL was an Internet Cafe area with several computers used with a small fee (about the only thing not included in the cost of the cruise). (I think it's time to mention that all meals, beverages including alcoholic (not premium), tips, etc. are included in your cruise fee.) At the back of this deck was the outdoor Beagle Grill. Breakfast and lunch were served here daily. We often ate lunch here to be outside, and because almost every day they had grilled food made to order which was great.

Celebrity Xpedition Blue Finch BarThe next deck was the Panorama deck which had the suites and the outdoor Blue Finch Bar which was a fun gathering area. From here you could walk up the stairs to the Sunrise deck's hot tub and lounging area and the forward lounging area. There were a few gym machines available adjacent to the hot tub area. Using the hot tube after excursions was wonderful. We didn't use the spa and sauna located on this deck. The ship's power is at 220 volts with both a European and American style outlet at the desk. The 110 volt outlet is in the bathroom. I think that about covers the Xpedition itself.

I want to add here that the crew of the ship was amazing. There were about the friendliest, most helpful, most hardworking ships crew I have ever encountered. About 99% of them are Ecuadorian. They were fabulous. The Naturalists were also absolutely great, and the cruise director, Jason extraordinary. If there was anything to be faulted about the ship and/or crew for us it was that sometimes part of the dinner was not hot (soup) because of the way it is staged. The soup wasn't cold, just not hot. We mentioned this to the Matre'd and they are working to improve this area. In addition, a couple of times we found the seafood a bit overcooked, although for the most part the food was excellent.

By the way, the boat had an Open Bridge policy which we took advantage of and toured. It's essentially the same as any cruise ship's bridge.

Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part III

Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part I

Celebrity XpeditionAs is our custom, we prefer to arrive at any international embarkation port three nights in advance. On occasion our luggage has taken those extra days before the cruise to get to us. It's no fun taking a cruise without all your clothes and belongings. On this cruise we arrived at the Quito, Ecuador Airport, at about 10:00pm Thursday evening, and after clearing immigration and customs (easy and pleasant) the JW Marriott/Celebrity representative was holding a sign with our name and took us to the Van, even though we were there a day before the precruise package started. I think it is enough to say that the JW Marriott, Quito is an excellent hotel with good food and superb service. I would go back there whenever in Quito in a heartbeat.

While the altitude in Quito didn't particularly affect us, it did affect many. There are now medications available to negate the altitude effect. Everyone who took them said they worked great. On our day "on our own" we took the cable car ride, $8 for two, which gave us a spectacular view of Quito (the Marriott van took us there), but the things to do and eat at the top and bottom were expensive and dreck. We took a taxi back to the hotel where we had a great lunch. In the afternoon, we took a long walk up the Amazon River Avenue and visited a market, church and a wonderful park. We had dinner in the hotel.

That night (Friday) after dinner the precruise package started. All meals were now included. On Saturday, after breakfast at the hotel, we were taken on an escorted bus/walking city tour the next morning which included the old colonial city area of Quito, which was very interesting. From there we went to the El Crater Restaurant that sits on the top rim of the Pululahua volcano at nearly 14,000 feet. Then we were off to Equator park (Mitad del Mundo (Center of the Earth) - latitude 0) which had a fascinating museum. There were some decent shops there from which a number of people made purchases. For dinner, we were taken to a private room at the Theatrum, the restaurant at the Teatro Nacional Sucre in the old section of town, and treated to a performance by one of Quito's opera stars. Dinner was fine, and the performance ... okay.

The next morning (Sunday) our checked-in luggage (1 bag per person weighing no more than 40 pounds) was left outside the room and picked up for transport to the ship. We didn't see it again until we were on board. After breakfast we took our single carry-on (two not permitted) to the lobby for our bus trip to the airport. I must digress that we were told a lower weight limit prior to leaving for the trip, and would have taken our own wet suits if we knew about the higher weight limit. I feel Celebrity should have told us about the change in advance, and should have allowed a 3rd bag per couple (same weight limit) which some people actually did bring. We flew on Tame Air to Baltra. Celebrity took care of all the paper work for this airline and we got priority treatment getting through the airport. On the two hour flight from Quito to Baltra we all got an excellent light lunch and the plane was clean, fresh, and had great service. At Baltra we went through immigration and customs and went to the VIP lounge. Shortly afterward, the buses came and we took the 5 minute ride to the dock.

Zodiacs at Celebrity XpeditionAt the dock we were met by the zodiacs and taken to the Xpedition. The cruise had the full complement of 90 passengers. We met many wonderful cruise-mates and intend to stay in touch with them and possibly take another vacation with some of them in the future, probably in '09. Many of us want to go to Antarctica.

Go to Destination: Galapagos via Celebrity Xpedition - Part II

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18% Gray
Middle Gray, or a standard average gray tone of 18 percent reflectance. The exposure meters of digital cameras are typically calibrated to 18% Gray.

3D Color Matrix Meter
Originally a Nikon technology which first appeared on its top film camera at the time, the F5. Since then the 3D Color Matrix Meter has been updated and improved significantly. The Nikon D3X DSLR camera now uses a 1,005-pixel RGB sensor for its metering. The 3D Color Matrix Meter evaluates each scene's brightness and contrast and using a special Red Green Blue (RGB) sensor, evaluates the scene's colors. Its powerful micro-computer uses a special Nikon exposure/color database to set the camera's exposure.

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Zoom Lens
A zoom lens is a  lens with the ability to vary its focal length (and thus angle of view), as opposed to a fixed focal length (FFL) or prime lens. A high quality zoom lens, also called a parfocal lens, is one which its maintains focus as its focal length is adjusted by the photographer. A lessor quality zoom lens which loses focus during zooming is called a varifocal lens.

Zoom lenses in digital point and shoot cameras are often described by the ratio of their longest to shortest focal lengths. For example, a zoom lens with focal lengths ranging from 100 mm to 400 mm can be described as a 4:1 or "4×" zoom.

Zoom lenses are often confused with telephoto lenses, those with a narrow angle of view which magnify the subject of the photograph. While some zoom lenses have a strictly telephoto range of focal lengths, some have a strictly wide-angle ranges, while others range from wide-angle to telephoto. Zoom lenses are popular because they can take the place of numerous lenses of fixed focal lengths, and help the photographer avoid having to switch lenses as necessary. Amateur photographers particular like zooms lenses to reduce their cost of lens for the photographer. Zoom lenses on digital point and shoot cameras allow them to have great flexibility, adding the capability to obtain wide angle and telephoto images.

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White Balance
White balance is a function on the camera which allows it to compensate for different colors of light being emitted by different light sources.

Wide Angle Lens
In photography and cinematography, a wide-angle lens is a lens whose focal length is substantially shorter than the focal length of a normal lens for the image size produced by the camera, whether this is dictated by the dimensions of the image frame at the film plane for film cameras or the dimensions of the photosensor for digital cameras.

Many DSLR interchangeable lens cameras have photosensors which are smaller than the film format of full-frame 35 mm cameras. For the most part, the dimensions of these photosensors are similar to the APS-C image frame size, approximately 24 mm x 16 mm. Therefore, the angle of view for any given focal length lens will be narrower than it would be in a full-frame camera because the smaller sensor "sees" less of the image projected by the lens. The camera manufacturers provide a crop factor (sometimes called a field-of-view factor or a focal-length multiplier) to show how much smaller the sensor is than a full 35 mm film frame. For example, one common factor is 1.5 (Nikon DX format and some others) The 1.5 indicates that the angle of view of a lens on the camera is the same as that of a 1.5 times longer focal length on a 35 mm full-frame camera, which explains why the crop factor is also known as a focal-length multiplier. For example, a 28 mm lens on the DSLR (given a crop factor of 1.5) has the angle of view of a 42 mm lens on a full-frame camera.

Lens manufacturers have responded to this problem by making wide-angle lenses of much shorter focal lengths for these cameras, but in doing this, they limit the diameter of the image projected to slightly more than the diagonal measurement of the photosensor. This gives the designers more flexibility in providing the optical corrections necessary to economically produce high quality images at these short focal lengths, especially when the lenses are zoom lenses, however, these lenses cannot be used to light full 35mm sized sensors, such as the Nikon FX sensor.

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Variable Focus Lens
Lens of which the focal length can be continuously varied between set limits. The lens must be refocused with each change in focal length.

Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization)
With still cameras, camera shake is particularly problematic at slow shutter speeds or with long focal length (telephoto) lenses. Vibration reduction (image stabilization) is a mechanism used in a camera that stabilizes the recorded image by varying the optical path to the sensor. Stabilization for SLR and DSLR cameras is usually performed by the lens. Many digital point and shoot cameras also have image stabilization, but performed in the camera itself.

Image stabilization can often permit the use of shutter speeds 2–4 stops slower (exposures 4–16 times longer) than a person can normally accomplish hand holding a camera, for any particular lens/camera combination, although even slower effective speeds have been reported.

Some image stabilized lenses have an "Active Mode" intended to be used when shooting from a moving vehicle, such as a car or boat, to correct for larger shakes than the "Normal Mode."

Viewfinder
Device or system indicating the field of view encompassed by the camera lens. The term is sometimes used as a description of the type of camera that does not use reflex or "straight-through" viewing systems and therefore has to have a separate viewfinder.

Vignetting
Underexposure of image corners produced deliberately by shading or unintentionally by inappropriate equipment, such as unsuitable lens hood or badly designed lens. A common fault of wide-angle lenses, owing to reflection cut-off, etc. of some of the very oblique rays.

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UD
Ultra Low dispersion lens, pls refer to ED, LD sections.

Ultra-wide angle lens
Extra wide angle lens are those with an angle of view greater than 90°. For 35 mm cameras the description usually applies to lenses of shorter focal length than about 24 mm.

Underexposure
A condition in which too little light reaches the film, producing a thin negative, dark slide, dark image, or muddy-looking print.

Unipod (Monopod)
A one-legged support used to hold the camera steady.

UV
The ultra violet light. This is beyond the visible spectrum i.e. it's invisible electromagnetic radiation of the sunlight.

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Tear Sheets
Tear sheets refer to ads taken out of the pages of magazines, newspapers and other printed matter. Any time work is published, the author gets copies, often literally clipped out of copies of the magazine, for their own future advertising and portfolio. Tear sheets provide evidence that the authors work has been published. Tear sheets are similar in this regard to reprints of articles.

Tear sheets got their name since it used to be common for magazines to rip up a few issues and send the pages torn out to authors, photographers, etc.


Teleconverter
A teleconverter is a secondary lens which is mounted between the camera and a photographic lens. Its job is to enlarge the image obtained by the original lens. Teleconverters are typically made in 1.4x, 1.7x, 2x and 3x models. The use of a 2x teleconverter gives the effect of using lens with twice the focal length. It also decreases the intensity of the light reaching the film by a factor of 4 (an equivalent of doubling the focal ratio) as well as the resolution (by a factor of 2).

Tear sheets got their name since it used to be common for magazines to rip up a few issues and send the pages torn out to authors, photographers, etc.


Telephoto Lens
In photography, a telephoto lens has a specific construction of a long focal length lens in which the physical length of the lens is shorter than the focal length. In these lenses the optical center lies outside of its physical construction, so that the entire lens assembly is between the optical center and the focal plane. A regular lens of a focal length that is longer than what is considered a normal lens is not necessarily a telephoto lens. A telephoto lens has to incorporate a special lens group known as a telephoto group, nevertheless, non-telephoto lenses of long focal length are often informally referred to as telephoto lenses. The angle of view created by a telephoto lens is the same as that created by an ordinary lens of the same specified focal length.

Telephoto and other long focal length lenses are best known for making distant objects appear magnified. This effect is similar to moving closer to the object, but is not the same, since perspective is a function solely of viewing location. Two images taken from the same location, one with a wide angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens, will show identical perspective, in that near and far objects appear the same relative size to each other. Comparing magnification by using a long lens to magnification by moving closer, however, the telephoto shot appears to compress the distance between objects due to the perspective from the more distant location.

Through the Lens (TTL)
Type of exposure meter built into the camera body and reading through the camera lens. May measure either at full aperture or at picture taking aperture.

Through the Lens Focusing
Viewing a scene to be photographed through the same lens that admits light to the film or sensor. Through the lens viewing, as in an SLR or DSLR camera, while focusing and composing a picture, eliminates parallax.

Through the Lens Metering
Meter built into the camera to determine exposure for the scene by reading light that passes through the lens. SLR and DSLR cameras have built-in meters which measure light after it has passed through the lens, a feature that enables exposure readings to be taken from the actual image about to be recorded, whatever the lens angle of view and regardless of whether a filter is used or not.

Time Exposure
A comparatively long exposure made in seconds or minutes.

TLR
Twin lens reflex camera that has separate viewing and actual exposure lenses.

Transparency
Slide film.

Tripod
A three-legged supporting stand used to hold the camera steady. Especially useful when using slow shutter speeds, macro and telephoto lenses.

Tungsten Light
Light from regular room lamps and ceiling fixtures, not fluorescent. Images produced under this light source can be extremely warm.


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NSL Photography's™ Glossary of Photographic Terms - S

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Safelight
An enclosed darkroom lamp fitted with a filter to screen out light rays to which film and paper are sensitive.

Saturation
An attribute of perceived color, or the percentage of hue in a color. Saturated colors are called vivid, strong, or deep. Desaturated colors are called dull, weak, or washed out.

Scale
Focusing method consisting of set of marks to indicate distances at which a lens is focused. May be engraved around the lens barrel, on the focusing control or on the camera body.

Screen
In a camera. the surface upon which the lens projects an image for viewfinding and, usually, focusing purposes.

Selective Focus
Choosing a lens opening that produces a shallow depth of field. Usually this is used to isolate a subject by causing most other elements in the scene to be blurred.

Self-Timer
Mechanism delaying the opening of the shutter for some seconds after the release has been operated.

Semi-Automatic Iris
Diaphragm mechanism which closes down to the taking aperture when the shutter is released, but must be manually re-opened to full aperture.

Sensitivity
Expression of the nature of a photographic emulsion's or digital camera's sensor response to light. Can be concerned with degree of sensitivity as expressed by film speed or response to light of various colors (spectral sensitivity).

Sharpness
A term used to describe the ability of a lens to render fine detail clearly. It is dependent on the contrast and resolution of a lens and varies with the f/stop. Generally a lens is sharpest at the middle apertures. Technically it can be explained as clarity of the photographic image in terms of focus and contrast.

Shutter
Blades, a curtain, plate, or some other movable cover in a camera that controls the time during which light reaches the film.

Shutter Speed
In photography, shutter speed is a common term used to discuss exposure time, the effective length of time a shutter is open. The total exposure is proportional to this exposure time, or duration of light reaching the film or image sensor.

Shutter Priority
An exposure mode on an automatic or autofocus camera that lets you select the desired shutter speed; the camera sets the aperture for proper exposure. If you change the shutter speed, or the light level changes, the camera adjusts the aperture automatically.

Sidelighting
Light striking the subject from the side relative to the position of the camera, producing shadows and highlights to create modeling on the subject.

Single Servo AF
Once the subject is in focus, focus is locked. Useful for recomposing the picture.

Single Lens Reflex (SLR) or Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera
Types of cameras which allow you to see through the camera's lens as you look in the camera's viewfinder. Other camera functions, such as light metering and flash control, also operate through the camera's lens, as well.

Slave Unit
Accessory flash "slave" units are available to fire multiple flash units without multiple electrical connections to the camera.

Slow Sync
A flash technique for using the flash at a slow shutter speed. Flash shooting in dim light or at night at a fast shutter speed often results in a flash-illuminated subject against a dark background. Using a slower shutter speed with the flash brings out the background details in the picture. Use of a slow shutter speed with Rear-Curtain Sync is particularly effective for illustrating the movement of a stream of light. Can be of very creative if put to good use.

Slide
A photographic transparency (positive) mounted for projection.

SLR
The SLR or single lens reflex camera uses an automatic moving mirror system which permits the photographer to see exactly what will be captured by the film, as opposed to a non-SLR camera where the view through the viewfinder could be significantly different from what was captured on film.

Prior to the development of SLR, all cameras with viewfinders had two optical light paths, one path through the lens to the film, and another path positioned above (twin lens reflex) or to the side (rangefinder). Because the viewfinder and the film lens cannot share the same optical path, the viewing lens is aimed to intersect with the film lens at a fixed point somewhere in front of the camera. This is not problematic for pictures taken at a middle or longer distance but parallax causes framing errors in close-up shots. Moreover, focusing the lens of a non-reflex camera when it is opened to wider apertures, such as in low light or while using low-speed film, is not easy.

Soft Focus
Produced by use of a special lens that creates soft outlines. Filters are more popular than lens as it is more economical and flexible.

Soft Lighting
Lighting that is low or moderate in contrast, such as on an overcast day.

Split-Image
Form of rangefinder image, bisected so that the two halves of the image are aligned only when the lens is correctly focused.

Spot Metering Spot metering, used to get accurate light readings of a small part of a subject, uses exposure metering with a narrow angle of view, typically less than 5 percent of the viewing area, to measure light within limited areas to determine the exposure for a photograph.

Stopping Down
Changing the lens aperture to a smaller opening; for example, from f/8 to f/11.

Sync Cords
The purpose of sync cords is to allow the camera to control the flash, so the flash fires at the correct time. Other common names for electrical cords to connect flash to camera are PC cord, sync cord and synch cord.

Sync Socket
Often called "PC terminal" or "PC Socket." A socket in the camera to which the sync cord is plugged in.

Sync Speed
Exposure time with a focal-plane shutter is measured from the instant the first curtain is released, to begin its travel across the frame, until the instant the second curtain is released, to begin its travel across the frame.

Synchronization
The action of shutter opening and closing of electrical contacts to fire a flash at the correct moment to make most efficient use of the light output.

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NSL Photography's™ Glossary of Photographic Terms - R

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Rangefinder
Instrument for measuring distances from a given point, usually based on slightly separated views of the scene provided by mirrors or prisms.

Raw Image File
A raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of a digital camera. Raw file images are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be used with a bitmap graphics editor or printed. Normally, the image is processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut internal colorspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a film format such as TIFF, PSD or JPEG (JPG) for storage, printing, web display or further manipulation, which often encodes the image in a device-dependent colorspace.

Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives, as they fulfill the same role as negatives in film photography, that is, the negative is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image.

Like a photographic negative, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic range or color gamut than the eventual final image format, and is usually the one "closest" to the real picture as it preserves the most of its details. The raw image format's purpose is to faithfully record both 100% of exactly what the sensor "saw" or "sensed" (the data), and the conditions surrounding the recording of the image (the metadata).

Rear-Curtain Sync
Flash fires an instant before the second (rear) curtain of the focal plane shutter begins to move. When slow shutter speeds are used, this feature can create a blur effect from the ambient light, i.e., a flowing- light patterns following a moving subject with subject movement frozen at the end of the light flow.


Reciprocity Failure
This occurs for photographic emulsions (film) when exposure times are beyond the film's normal range. As exposure times increase, more light, and/or more intensive light is required in addition to the expected amount, to properly expose the film to achieve the desired result.


Rectilinear lens
This is a photographic lens which produces images where the straight lines of the subject, such as building walls, appear straight, not curved. These lenses have little barrel or pincushion distortion. The majority of still camera lenses produce nearly rectilinear images.

Refractive Index
A technical term used to describe the effect of a lens in causing light rays to bend.

Reflector
Any device used to reflect light onto a subject to improve balance of exposure (contrast). Another way is to use fill in flash.

Relative Aperture
Numerical expression of effective aperture, also known as f-number. It's obtained by dividing focal length by diameter of effective aperture.

Remote Shutter Release
A mechanical or electronic device which attaches to a camera for the purpose of activating the shutter of the camera without touching the camera, to eliminate shaking the camera from the physical action of pressing the shutter release button. Remote shutter releases may vary from a simple physical cable which presses down on the shutter release button, to an electronic remote shutter release which can both delay the shutter release for a set period of time, and keep the shutter open for a set period of time.

Resolution
The ability of a lens to discern small detail. In photography, the image resolution in the final photograph depends on the resolving power of the film or the sensor, and of that of the lens. The two are not related, but the effective resolution is a function of both.

Retouching
Altering a print, image or negative after development by use of dyes or pencils software, to alter tones of highlights, shadows, and other details, or to remove blemishes.

RGB
Red, green & blue, where black is simulated color. CMYK is the four primary colors.

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NSL Photography's™ Glossary of Photographic Terms - Q

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NSL Photography's™ Glossary of Photographic Terms - P

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Pan (Panchromatic)
Designation of films that record all colors in tones of about the same relative brightness as the human eye sees in the original scene, sensitive to all visible wave-lengths.

Panning
Moving the camera so that the image of a moving object remains in the same relative position in the viewfinder as you take a picture. The eventual effect creates a strong sense of movement.

Panorama
A broad view, usually scenic.

Parallax (Camera)
Parallax is the difference between what the viewfinder sees and what the camera records, especially at close distances. This is caused by the separation between the viewfinder and the picture-taking lens. There is no parallax with SLR and DSLR cameras because when you look through the viewfinder, you are viewing the subject through the camera's lens.

Parallax (Panorama)
Parallax is an optical illusion in which things near to us appear to move faster than things farther away. When you're shooting a panorama, parallax is exhibited when you rotate your camera and objects nearer the lens will appear to shift left or right in relation to objects further from the lens and in the background. Parallax problems can be eliminated or certainly mitigated by setting the rotational axis of the camera directly over the center of the lens Entrance Pupil of the lens attached to the camera.

PC
Personal Computer.

PC Cords
PC cords or sync cords allow the camera to control the flash, so the flash fires at the correct time.

Perforations
Regularly and accurately spaced holes punched throughout the length of film for still cameras. Basically the perforation function as a guide for precision registration of film and also provide mechanical movement from frame to frame.

Perspective
The rendition of apparent space in a flat photograph, i.e., how far the foreground and background appear to be separated from each other. The rendition of perspective is determined by the camera-to-subject distance. If objects appear in their normal size relations, the perspective is considered "normal." If the foreground objects are much larger than the ones in the background, the perspective is considered "exaggerated," and when there is little difference in size between foreground and background, we say the perspective looks "compressed."


Perspective Control
Perspective control lenses are also known as tilt or shift lenses. These lenses permit the correction of linear distortion resulting from high or low camera angle. Most use a gear or sliding mechanism and require manual metering.

Photomicrography
The process of taking photographs of minute objects using a camera and a microscope, not to be confused with "microphotography," the process of making minute photographs of large objects.


Photoshopping 
Photoshopping is slang terminology describing the digital editing of photos. The term has its origin from Adobe Systems Incorported "Photoshop" product, the most commonly used photographic image editor by most professionals for this purpose. While Adobe Systems Incorporated discourages use of the term "photoshopping" as a verb, due to their concern that it may undermine the company's trademark of the word "Photoshop," is remains widely used, and sometimes a negative one, to the chagrin of Adobe.

Picture Angle
The angle of coverage of a lens usually measured across the diagonal of the picture frame. It varies with focal length. The longer the focal length, the narrower the picture angle, the shorter the focal length, the wider the picture angle.

Pincushion Distortion
The opposite of barrel distortion, it is when straight lines are bowed in toward the middle to resemble the sides of a pincushion. It is present in small amounts in some telephoto and telephoto-zoom lenses.


Pixel
In digital imaging, a pixel is the smallest item of information in an image. Pixels are usually arranged in a 2-dimensional grid, and are generally represented by dots or squares. Each pixel is a piece of an original image, where together they provide an accurate representation of the original image. The intensity of each pixel is variable. In color imaging, each pixel has typically three or four components such as red, green, and blue, or cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, to produce the correct color of that point in the image.


Plane
Level surface. It's used in photography chiefly in respect to focal plane, an imaginary level surface perpendicular to the lens axis in which the lens is intended to form an image. When the camera is loaded, the focal plane is occupied by the film or sensor surface.

Point & Shoot Camera (P&S)
A point and shoot camera, also called a compact camera, is a still camera designed primarily for simple operation. Most of them use autofocus or focus free lenses for focusing, and have automatic systems for setting the exposure options, plus have built-in flash units.

Point and shoots are by far the best selling type of camera. They are popular with people who don’t consider themselves photographers, yet want an easy to use camera for vacations, parties, and other events.

Point and shoot cameras are distinguished from single lens reflex cameras (SLRs and DSLRs) in many respects. The image that the photographer sees through the viewfinder of a point and shoot camera is not the same image that passes through the primary lens of the camera. Rather, the image in the viewfinder passes through a separate lens. Digital point and shoot cameras eliminated the need for the SLR design to some degree, by previewing the photo on the camera's LCD electronically via the lens. Point and shoot cameras don't have interchangeable lenses.

Polarizing Filter
A filter that transmits light traveling in one plane while absorbing light traveling in other planes. When placed on a camera lens or on light sources, it can eliminate undesirable reflections from a subject such as water, glass, or other objects with shiny surfaces. This filter also darkens blue sky.

Polarized Light
Light waves vibrating in one plane only as opposed to the multi-directional vibrations of normal rays. Natural effect produced by some reflecting surfaces, such as glass, water, polished wood, etc., but it can also be simulated by placing a special screen in front of the light source. The transmission of polarized light is restrained by using a screen at an angle to the plane of polarization.

Preset Iris
Diaphragm with two setting rings or one ring that can be moved to two positions. One is click-stopped, but does not affect the iris, the other moves freely and alters the aperture. The required aperture is preset on the first ring, and the iris closed down with the second just before exposure.

Program Exposure
An exposure mode on an automatic or autofocus camera which automatically sets both the aperture and the shutter speed for proper exposure. On some digital cameras it can set the ISO as well.

Programmed Auto
Camera sets both shutter speed and aperture for correct exposure and on some digital cameras it can set the ISO as well.

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