Strange Sounding Photography Terms Explained

Photography is full of technical terms, from simple and easy to understand words to highfalutin jargon. Then there are also the funny, strange sounding words that make us smile as we wonder what it means. I gathered a list of these terms that may sound silly but are quite important in the language of photography:

Scrim – this is thin material (usually fabric, but seamless paper is also used) that is placed between the subject and the light to reduce its harshness or intensity.  It can be made of a gauzy, almost transparent sheet that becomes part of a diffusion panel when it is fastened on a frame. Scrims are quite handy since they are lightweight and portable, they don’t cost much and they’re very effective. Scrims are often used for outdoor shoots when you don’t want the glare of the sun to cause blown out spots or make your model squint.

Hot shoe – this is when, after hours of walking around taking pictures, your shoes and feet start to get hot. Kidding! This term refers to the clip at the top of your camera where you attach your external flash unit. It electrically links the flash to the shutter mechanism and synchronizes the two when the shutter button is triggered.

Snoot – ‘Snoot’ sounds like ‘snout’ and come to think of it, it does look like one. This is a cone shaped shield or cylinder that is attached to a light head such as a flashgun to project a concentrated light beam to the subject. It prevents light spill and allows you to direct the light to a smaller area than if there was no snoot.

Parallax – this is the image difference between what you see in the viewfinder and what the lens sees and captures. The viewfinder is not in the same exact spot as the lens, more often than not it is an inch or two above it, and so there is a variation which gets more noticeable the closer the subject is to the camera.

GoBo – slang for ‘goes beyond optics’, a gobo is something that changes or blocks the beam of light as it leaves your light source. There might be areas in your setup that you do not want lighted and this is where a gobo can come in handy. These can also be used for effect, such was with colored glass gobos or metal gobos formed into shapes (like stencils) which will create similar shadows shapes that adds to the elements in the shot. If your light beam can be adjusted from soft to strong light, it can then either make the shapes soft and diffused or hard and well defined.

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