Z is for Zoom

A zoom lens is a lens with an adjustable focal length, allowing the photographer the flexibility to get more or less environment in the photo with their lens, not with their feet.

The zoom lens (with the exception of the most expensive lenses) trade off optical quality for convenience, a sacrifice many photographers are prepared to accept. Optical quality is hardly poor on good zoom lenses, but the difference is clear when compared to a comparable prime lens at the same focal distance. Optimum optical quality is usually found 2 or 3 stops higher than the widest aperture the lens can support. 

W is for Wide Angle

Wide angle lenses are lenses with a short focal length and wider field of view than can typically be seen by the human eye; on a 35mm (or equivalent digital) camera, that is any lens shorter than 50mm.

Typically used in landscapes, wide angle lenses can also be used in portraits to introduce some of the environment into the image and tell a story around the subject. Because of the way wide-angle lenses emphasize features in the foreground, close-up pictures of people with a wide-angle lens can distort facial features, making the feature closest to the camera look disproportionately larger than features further away. 

 

V is for Vignette

A vignette is an artifact caused by light falloff at the edge of the image.

Photographers sometimes add a vignette the post-production phase to direct the viewers eye within the image. The added effect can be darker or lighter than the central image.  A lighter vignette gives a dated effect to the image and can be distracting on images that are not already high key.

Vignetting caused by the lens is often undesirable and needs to be corrected in post-processing.

Q is for Quality

Quality refers to the production standard of an image. When assessing the image quality of a print, the following elements may be considered:

  • Image content
    The content is an essential element in quality. A minimally acceptable image should be in focus and properly exposed. A high quality image would be well composed, original or innovative, and have a story to tell.

P is for Print

A print is a physical photograph. 

In the age of digital, printing photographs is becoming increasingly rare. The current generation is the most photographed in history, but statistics show that 53% of people have not printed a photograph in the last year, and 42% no longer print photographs at all. Because of this, there is a risk that this generation a large percentage of today's memories will be lost because they are not printed, backed up, or stored in a long-lasting medium. 

O is for Overexposure

Overexposure is a photography technique where the exposure triangle is tweaked to allow more light than the average 18% grey to hit the camera sensor. This results in an overexposed image with a lot of detail in the shadows and darker areas of the picture. It can also lead to hot spots in the light areas where the camera has recorded pure white over a group of pixels leading to a 'blown out' area on the picture.

Overexposure is currently a popular trend in lifestyle photography, where photographers expose for the subject with the key light or sun behind the subject, leading to a very light background, and often a high key look overall.

N is for Noise

In photographic terms, noise is the digital equivalent of grain produced by a film negative.

Noise appears on the image as minute color aberrations at the pixel level that gives the impression of tiny dots across the image.  The image below shows an extreme example of noise on a tiny part of a digital image. 

Noise typically occurs when the exposure is too long, too shot, or in some instances at low or high temperatures.  Use of a high ISO (greater than 800 - or on really good cameras, greater than 1600 ISO) is another factor in how much noise the camera generates. 

Cameras with a larger sensor (known as Full Frame cameras) tend to produce less noise because the sensor has a larger area on which to collect the data for the picture. 

Noise reduction software and features are available. I like the Nik software Dfine2 or even Adobe's Luminance setting in Lightroom. Using noise reduction usually results in a softer image.