Post-Christmas humour 2014: photographic definitions

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As part of the ongoing annual tradition on this site…I present the 2014 Christmas Humor post: Photographic Definitions. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas everybody! May the gold and silver boxes under your tree not be empty and purely for decoration. MT

Aspherical element: ‘we couldn’t make it round, so we’re calling it aspherical!’

Bellows: the noise a photographer makes when they discover their 4-year old has tipped the view camera off the tripod

Bokeh: when you pay more money to see less of your subject

Camera: a device designed to absorb all of your income and send you to a chiropractor

Children: see also ‘model’, and ‘equipment mule’

Chimping: believed to be the actions of a primate in the minds of film shooters

Coffee: the magic fuel behind every stage of every great photograph; whether to kick the photographer awake, counteract long flights, maintain alertness while postprocessing, or as a substitute when you run out of developer.

Crepuscular ephemeris: a guide to when the sun and clouds are going to make those pointy God-beams. Alternatively, a fog machine and strobe light.

Crop: the only four-letter C word that gets dirty looks and a slap on the hand with a tripod in Ming’s workshops.

Double exposure: two photographers shooting at the same time

Exposure: the amount of light reaching your sensor or other photosensitive medium

Exposure: publicity, an exhibition, an article featuring your work

Exposure: a wardrobe malfunction, usually on a celebrity at a red carpet event

Film: something you watch in a cinema, with popcorn

Fine art: the inverse of ‘coarse art’

Flash: small device that emits a bright light precisely for the duration of the exposure or less

Flashing: do not do this in public

Grain: staple food of many photographers

Hasslebald: a result of the frustration encountered during an extreme malfunction of a certain Swedish camera

Hasselblad: also known by some as the original Instagram format

Incident meter: a device that counts the number of times you get hassled for taking a photograph

JPEG: your only choice when you’re too eager and buy a camera before it has third party raw converter support

Leica: a little red mark that magically multiplies the price of any camera or lens by a factor of three.

Lens hood: a device that instantly marks a photographer’s level of ability: reversed, you’re an idiot; large and in place, you look professional; absent, either you’re hardcore and don’t need no ‘stinkin lens cap, or you’re forgetful.

Light: probably important…

Linhof: a type of very expensive Swiss cheese.

Masterclass: see also ‘masochism’

Memory card: it remembers everything it’s ever seen, but you might forget where you put it

Model: an ideal something, but only after photoshop.

Noise: a camera produces this when dropped onto a hard surface, or when hit, or when the button is pressed.

Optrics: the scientific witchcraft that gets your the subject inside the box, in miniature

Professional: a person who actually makes a living charging for the production of images (an urban legend in modern times)

Public: obstructions to your image, props, token human, or street photography targets – depending on your point of view.

Quick release clamp: a type of mounting that is impossible to remove until you don’t want to or least expect it, then is followed by Noise…

Raw: the best way to eat fresh fish, also, image files

Red-eye reduction: daytime flight or business class booked with air miles accumulated from buying too many lenses

Selfie stick: something people use to make their phones easier to steal by waving them around; photographer-golfers use them to retrieve lost balls; drivers of sports cars use them to take parking or toll tickets.

Slow sync: a photographer who’s a bit behind the times in equipment or needs multiple explanations before understanding something, e.g. “the lens mounts clockwise”

Spouse: see also ‘model’ and ‘time-restriction enforcement officer’

Stabilizer: counteracts the coffee required to maintain alertness while waiting for something interesting to happen

Tilt shift lens: gag accessory to convince somebody they’ve broken your expensive equipment because it isn’t supposed to bend that way…

Tripod: you try to use it, but most of the time it’s either too short/ too long/ too heavy/ too light and you need to buy another one…

Underwater photography: pastime of crazy people who actually, voluntarily throw thousands of dollars of electronics (and themselves, weighed down) into the sea

Viagra: blue pill to help straighten a tilt shift lens

Wide open: see Bokeh.

X rays: use these to check if there’s still any film inside your camera without having to open it!

Y cable: has anybody seen mine?

Zebra: ephemeral and mystical abstract equine creatures that only live in certain areas of your LCD where over or underexposure is present


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. Hi! My 9 year old daughter just suggested “Depth of Field: How tall the cornstalks are.”

  2. Ha ha, great stuff, sifu. you have a keen eye for the lighter side of things too!

  3. jpeg: File format that has been the savior of certain shutterbugs who have realized that they DON’T know more about post processing than the Olympus Corporation. 😉

  4. Father Raphael says:

    Dear Ming

    I cannot find where I read it but you used the term linear in reference, I think, to face tones. If so, I took it to mean that the skin looks like it has been airbrushed. In other words it displayed no texture or rather gradation of tone but one very evenly distributed color – totally unnatural. If I am correct, I am perplexed. I have had several cameras with results in skin tone as aforementioned. I recently purchased a Nikon Coolpix A. I have tweaked it every way I can and I still do not like the skin tones, especially compared to a Ricoh GR Digital I once had. In other words, faces look like someone brushed a light tan make up very evenly all over the face. I really hope you know what I am talking about.

    +Father Raphael

    • Have you tried shooting raw and profiling the camera against a color checker chart? What you’re seeing is a lack of separation in reds/yellows that I typically see with bad JPEG conversions, or overdone retouching.

      • Father Raphael says:

        Dear Ming

        Your quick reply is very, very much appreciated. I did indeed shoot them in RAW and should have indicated so in my comment. Moreover, I have shooting indoors with consistent lighting so that shutter speed is always 80. Although I shapen almost everything I shoot, even with my D3200 (which I am very happy with) i haven’t seen anything sharp from the Nikon A or that comes close to my RICOH GR Digital and then later a RICOH GR!! Why, why did I sell them? I also had a Olympus EP – 5 but felt I didn’t need another large camera since I have the D3200 so I sold it. Frankly, although it had a smaller sensor, images were sharp as a tack, flesh tones excellent, I hadn’t even had a chance to change settings. It was WONDERFUL! I want to go back to either a RICOH or the Olympus. Maybe you can recommend yet another direction. I just don’t like the A.

        I don’t know how you keep up with everyone. Thanks for taking time for me.

        +Father Raphael

        • The GR is close to the top for pixel acuity if used properly. The A was pretty close though – sample variation, perhaps? It’s unfortunately an increasingly common problem as tolerances required to keep up with each generation of sensors gets tighter.

  5. Prepare your inbox, there will definitely be angry ‘blad owners after that Instagram comment 😀

  6. Re: Coffee. That’s a definite no. It’s all about tea: green tea, HK milk tea, English breakfast, high tea, black tea, Taiwanese high mountain.

    Definition of professional was spot on.

    • If you live in England, perhaps. Sorry, not enough caffeine to undo the effects of long flights…that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good cup of brewed leaves too 🙂

  7. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Post processing ?
    A black art that used to be practised in a dark room, and is now performed inside a black box.

    Btw, perhaps a misspelling, didn’t you perchance mean Hasslebald…

    Happy New Year, Ming!

  8. I think i might start calling myself a coarse art photographer. I’ll figure out what it means later

  9. Wonderful…another reason to love this site and the effort and people here that make it such an enjoyable experience…
    God Bless All

  10. The best one ever – lots of good light to you in 2015.

  11. Bill Allsopp Photography says:

    Alternative for Bokeh : “Bokeh describes the look of the part of the part of the image you can’t clearly see.”

    A fun read, thanks Ming.

  12. When Alfred Eisenstaedt was asked what he really did at night in Paris, he replied “I expose longer.”

  13. Hahaha … Bravo Ming. I laughed that much during the read I had to activate my IBIS half way down 🙂

  14. Lucky me, my spouse sometimes works as an equipment mule

  15. lensaddiction says:

    LOL some of these are quite clever and amusing – you didnt include chimping tho 🙂 Surely thats good for a laugh?

  16. Haha! How about crepuscular ephemeris? 🙂

  17. Enjoyed this, Ming. Thanks for the amusement!

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