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Digital Photography Glossary

Photography Glossary - C

Understand the terminology of digital photography, digital printing and digital imaging so that you will become a better photographer. Photographic terms such as Camera Shake, CMYK, Color Temperature, Contrast, and more.


Cable Release

A Cable Release is a manual device that screws into the camera's shutter release and allows one to manually release the shutter without touching the camera, doing so from the cable's button. This is useful for very fine work where the camera must be completely motionless.



Every device in the digital photography workflow – camera, scanner, monitor, printer – produces color differently. Therefore it is important to recognize this fact, and be prepared to compensate for it when doing post-processing of your digital images. Color management is the calibration process that enables them all to act in harmony, so there is no discrepancy in any display, and reproducing the colors is accurate each and every time you bring up a given image. The inability to effectively color manage an image will cause considerable frustration and headaches for someone making prints from the digital photographs. Color management allows you more flexibility and consistency when matching the color between a monitor and your printer; the various types of photographic paper (fine art, glossy, matte, etc.) with various types of inks.


Camera Shake


Camera shake is the inherent shaking of the camera from the internal mechanism (the reflex lens) that occurs when the camera isn't stable during the actual photography results in unsharp images.



Capacitor is the electronic element that builds and holds the energy required to power a camera's flash unit. The capacitor will only store the energy for short period of time before it dissipates and needs to be rebuilt. The stored energy is measured in joules or watts.



Cast, or color cast typically refers to an overall, subtle color shift in an image. This undesirable tint is caused by an inappropriate amount of cyan, magenta or yellow. It is caused by improper exposure, incorrect white balance or film stock type, or unusual lighting situations that aren't easily apparent to the naked eye (i.e. shooting under fluorescent lights will give you a green cast).



CMOS and CCD Image Sensors

Stands for Charged Coupled Device, the backbone of the digital image sensor. CCD electronic technology converts the light rays into digital data. The CCD chipset for digital image sensors record each of the three additive primary colors – red, green and blue – separately.


Center-weighted Average

Center-Weighted Metering Mode

An automatic exposure metering mode that measures the exposure throughout the image field, and finds an average value, but incorporates more weight from the center of the frame to determine the final exposure value.

Click here to learn more: Learn all about Exposure Metering Modes


CF Card

CF (CompactFlash) Card is a type of memory storage device necessary for saving digital data, most typically used in digital cameras. CF Cards have a range of memory sizes.



Close-up is a term that indicates when the camera is extremely close to the subject. Close-ups are used to isolate specific details or attributes of the subject. It doesn't matter what focal length lens you use to get a close-up, the image properties will differ, but the concept is the same.


Close-up Lens

Macro Lens

A Close-up Lens is a lens that accentuates the power of the close-up, such as a telephoto or a macro lens. Close-up lenses are typically 100mm or above, and they dramatically compress the spatial relationship within an image, in that objects appear closer than they actually are.

Click here to learn more: Understanding Camera Lenses



CMS stands for Content Management System; a computer-based filing system to make the photographic workflow and post process as easy to handle, manipulate and control as possible.


Cold Colors

These are colors that are in the blue, or cooler end of the color spectrum; where red, or warmer, colors are at the opposite end of the color spectrum.


Color Correction Filter

Srew-in Filter Types

Color Correction Filter is a piece of photographic plastic or glass that fits on to your camera lens that compensates for differences in the available light's or artificial light's color temperature.

Click here to learn more: Camera Lens Filters Explained


Color Temperature

White Balance Chart - Color Temperature of Light Sources

Color Temperature is measured in Kelvin (K), the color temperature indicates the actual, visible color of a given light source. Color temperature is important, because visible light is usually a specific color (i.e., orangish or bluish) and you must select a film stock or set the white balance (on a digital camera) in order to reproduce the image the way your eye sees it. The human eye compensates for imbalances in color temperature so that environments have a baseline normal look.



Composition tips-Group of five trendy young people standing in a city square

Composition is the specific ordering of objects within a camera's viewfinder to exactly determine what will be recorded on the image sensor (or film frame).

Click here to learn more: Top 10 Composition tips



Compression is the process of removing redundant digital image information from a file to reduce the file's overall data size.


Continuous Autofocus

Continuous Autofocus Sample

Continuous Autofocus is an automatic focus mode where the camera's computer and servo constantly adjust the focus of a lens up until the point in which the shutter release is pressed.

Click here to learn more: Understanding Autofocus Modes



Contrast indicates the discreet difference in tones from white to gray to black (or the lightest to the darkest tone) within a given photographic image.


Critical Aperture

Critical Aperture is the f-stop setting where a lens provides the optimal image quality; critical aperture finds the best balance between diffraction from small apertures and lens aberration from large apertures.



Cropping is the process of slicing away an image's physical borders to obtain a more pleasing or specific composition.

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