NSL Photography's™ Glossary of Photographic Terms - S

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

A photographic transparency (positive) mounted for projection.

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.

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.

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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