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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 10 Apr 2011 (Sunday) 06:57
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The Devil's Dictionary of Photography

195 posts
Joined Nov 2010
Apr 10, 2011 06:57 |  #1

Please feel free to contribute (and I will add the "gems" to this list here). There can, of course, be multiple definitions of the same term, and please feel free to recommend improvements to already proposed definitions (including my own). I am editing them for consistency, but please let me know if I butcher something.


3D (as in the "3D-quality" of a lens)
- That quality of no-longer-in-production and expensive, rare lenses that justifies their purchase to those who want to believe badly enough (see also Leica). It is also notably one of the few photographic phenomena on which professionals and amateurs can comment with equal veracity, in large part do to it's non-existence.

77mm Thread
The typical length of a discussion on a Leica forum before a post is made suggesting that Canon users are all a load of proletariat numpty-numb-skulls who wouldn't know a good camera/lens combo if it was pushed forcibly in said Canon user's rectal passage.

Adobe Bridge
- not a good route while it's raining.

Ansel Adams
- The Ken Rockwell of large and medium format photography.

Aperture Priority
- The stage in life when the first thing asked at any unfamiliar event, hotel or conference is "Err, where's the toilet....?"

- The field of photography that explores the hatred of birds for cameras.
- A genre of photography largely dedicated to taking pictures of slightly out-of-focus bird butts. Considering what bird butts are famous for, one can only conjecture what statement the birds are trying to make to their perceivers.

Blown Highlights
- Realizing too late that you should have asked your girlfriend to be your wife.

- Not knowing exactly what went wrong. If you do know what went wrong, and can repeat it, the effect is called "artistic blur."
- When combined with the discovery of six or more largely randomly selected brush tools in Photoshop, blur becomes "high art."

- A Japanese poem of 17 syllables in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllable segments. Or is that a haiku? I can never remember which is which.

- Shooting 3 or more shots that are either: (i) all underexposed or (ii) all overexposed, with an equal stop difference between each, usually used for HDR. See HDR.

Build Quality
A measure of the physical integrity of a lens / camera body that is inversely proportional to it's likelihood falling from a tall building.

Calibrated Monitor
- A deus ex machina invoked to defend a photograph with lifeless colors by appeal to the technology of the photographer. May also be used to impart an air of superiority when critiquing another's photograph (as in "try calibrating your monitor" or "on my calibrated monitor"). See Color Management.

- A Nikon modified to produce sufficient resolution for prints.

- The act of looking like you know what your doing but when viewed from behind you are actually playing with yourself. See pixel peeping and blur.

Circle of Confusion
- A group of Canon fanboys at a Ken Rockwell seminar.

Color Management
- The careful act of getting your prints to look nothing like the image on your computer monitor.

- An antiquated method of compensating for a lack of technological innovation by unnecessarily thoughtful positioning of the camera. See Exposure.

Corner (as in corner sharpness)
- The outermost extremities of an image, measured by the width of a grain of rice. The sole measure of a lens's sharpness.

Craig's List
- A forum dedicated exclusively to the sale of stolen and worn-out merchandise. The forum was created to permit stolen-camera dealers from New Jersey (esp. Newark) and NYC (esp. Brooklyn) to demonstrate that they are smarter than everyone else.
- The mechanism by which fools and their money are separated.

- The view through your glazed-over eyes as the first check shows up in your mailbox for your work.

[B]Digital Darkroom
- A room in which there is not enough light to count your fingers.

Dirty Sensor
- Dirt on the sensor of a digital camera resulting in spots on all photographs taken with the camera, which spots are easily visible to any viewer except the owner of the camera.

EF-S Lenses
- Canon lenses purchased and used exclusively by working professional photographers, but bitterly disdained by doctor and lawyer hobbyists.

Exposure (as in "proper exposure")
- A sheer guess of the optimal amount of light required for a photograph made without consulting the enormous amount of readily available, accurate data provided at the moment it is needed. See Composition.

Fast Lens
- A promiscuous lens that will multiple quickly to the concern of one's spouse. See "EF-S Lenses" and "L Lenses".

Flare (as in "lens flare")
- Pinache (also spelled "flair")

Flipside 300
- Not to be confused with the camera bag by the same name, but rather a type of mind-altering drug designed to not only rid the user of all intelligence, but also to increase their body weight by 300lbs. (NB: This can also be found under its old name: "MacDonald's").

- The plane of critical sharpness in an image; made popular by the 50L.

Freelance Photographer
- A photographer who is ungainfully employed.

- The conversion of an uninspired color photograph to black-and-white.
- The application of shallow depth-of-field to a badly composed photograph.

- A character in the movie Pulp Fiction who liked dressing in rubber and having his bottom spanked.

Golden Hour
- The sixty-minute period ending immediately upon your arrival at the location of the shoot.

- The force that draws pulls expensive lenses / camera to the hard earth below. The force exerted on the lens (and speed of descent) is proportional to the cost of the gear involved.

Great Camera
- An unintentional insult as in "That's a wonderful picture; you must have a great camera!" Often the precursor to the retort "Thank you. Your mouth makes beautiful compliments."

Grey Card
- A penalty given to a European photographer for using a flash at a football match. Two grey cards may, but need not, result in expulsion from the facility.

High Dynamic Range Photography (a/k/a "HDR")
- A form of image manipulation whereby a poorly exposed image is turned into a cartoon.

ISO 6000
- A new boy band, all of whom look their best under poor lighting (>_<;)

- A pretty bad device for viewing dSLR images, but a pretty good device for viewing semi-naked ladies dancing.

Layers & Masks
- A rather kinky party to which very few photographers are invited

- Rare photographic relics blessed by the ancient gods of photography with the inexplicable gift of sales despite image quality rivaled by every camera made since 1974. Purchased by doctors and lawyers who simply don't take enough photos to know the difference, and more often photographed themselves than used to take photographs of other things.

Leica Glow
- the self-righteous, delighted look on a doctor's or lawyer's face when they look at their barely used camera that they know nobody else can afford.
- the look on a camera dealer's face when they see a doctor or lawyer walk over to the Leica display, and the dealer can deliver the line "Those cameras are made for those who simply demand the very best, and you are obviously a man of exquisite taste."

Lens Cleaning Cloth
- A high-tech material designed to extract grit, oil and poop from thin-air and then deposit them inside or on delicate photographic equipment, lenses and filters.

Lens Hood
- The locale where a lens was made.

L Lenses
- See Pro Lenses.

Macro Lens
- A large lens.

Murphy's Law of Photography
- Universal law stating that the probability of a piece of gear failing is directly proportional to the importance of the shoot and inversely proportional to the availability of back-up gear.

- A Canon modified to autofocus.

OOF (or "Out of Focus")
- The application of the plane of sharp focus to an unintended part of an image. For repeated failures, this "error" becomes "style."

- When a photography gets caught with his pants down.

Pelican Case
- A lawsuit based on a bird crapping on your gear.

Perspiration Index
- Defined as the quantitative volume (in decilitres) of human sweat created while trying to understand what the hell all those symbols mean under Refractive Index (see definition below).

- Aperture for adults.
- A shop where you can get your photo taken.

Pixel Peeping
- The act of judging the beauty of a forest by looking at 1 square inch of bark.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder leading to blindness, mental illness and increased hair growth on the palms of photographer's hands.

Point-and-Shoot Camera
- A camera that is one model -- and only one model -- beneath the one you own, as in "If business doesn't improve, I'm going to have to downgrade from my 1DsIII to a point-and-shoot like the 5DII those other slobs use."

Polarizing Filter
- Another term for the UV-Filter, which is a crudely fashioned inexpensive piece of translucent plastic through which all light must be scattered before entering a very expensive, highly corrected glass lens. Many photographers argue that these filters are legally required by many states, while others believe their use is inadvisable.

Post Processing (or "PP")
- The uninspired attempt by non-photographers to oversaturate the colors of a digital image using a Mac, CS5 and a $50 uncalibrated monitor.

Pro Lenses (a/k/a "L series lenses")
- Canon lenses purchased and used exclusively by doctors and lawyers.

Pro Camera (or "Professional Camera")
- A camera that is nicer than yours.

Prosumer Camera
- A camera that is for professionals, a consumer camera, and for consumers, a professional camera.

Protective UV Filter
- A hardware equivalent to the 'Lens Flare' and 'Blur' tools in Photoshop.

- Preferred image format of the gods.

Refractive Index

- The ratio of the speed, c, of a wave phenomenon such as light in a reference medium to the phase speed, vp, of the wave in the medium in question:
Where, in the case of light;
is the material's relative permittivity, and μr is its relative permeability. See Perspiration Index.

Rule of Thirds
- The secret password required to get into Critique Corner.

Sepia Look
- Blotches and puffiness in the face resulting from septicemia.

- The intersection of Zen and camera lenses. The sole measure of the image quality of a lens, and nothing, all at once.

Shooting while Tethered
- A new style of harness used in drive-by gang warfare which allows the culprit of the crime to hang half-in-half-out of a vehicle in motion, with no risk of falling out and getting any nasty cuts 'n' bruises.

Shutter Release
- A small, round random-event generator on top of every modern DSLR which, when pressed, is expected to read the mind of the photographer.

Snapshot (often preceded by "lovely" as in "a lovely snapshot")
- The greatest insult one photographer can make of another's photograph.

- Minolta's poltergeist; must have something untoward on Zeiss to have his name on their lenses.

Specifications (a/k/a "Specs")
- The last refuge of the talentless.

Tilt-Shift Lens (or "TS-E")
- Any lens in the hands of an amateur: The "tilt" effect can be detected by observing the horizon in every photo. In more experienced hands, the "miniaturizing" tilt effect can make both the subject and photographer smaller and less significant, while the "shift" feature can be used to correct vertical convergence.

- A male nude model.

Untrained Eye
- The eye of someone who doesn't think your photographs are magnificent.

- The legal obligation of a manufacturer to cover the cost of equipment repair and/or replacement that expires one day prior to the date such obligation would benefit the holder.

Wildlife Photography
- The pursuit of photographing unicorns and other animals that seemingly do not exist.
The pursuit of photographing the only small animal part not occluded by adjacent bushes and trees.

- A lens maker of comparable quality to Canon and Nikon that has elected to jettison autofocus in favor of greater weight and cost.

Zone of Confusion
- The final stage in life, which immediately follows “Aperture Priority.” See Aperture Priority.

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Cream of the Crop
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Location: Montreal, Canada
Apr 10, 2011 09:05 |  #2


Bohdan - I may be, and probably am, completely wrong.
Gear List

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Apr 10, 2011 09:26 as a reply to  @ bohdank's post |  #3


Hahahaha! Very creative. Canon should hire you.;):cool:

just a few of my thoughts...

IQ ­ Zero
Senior Member
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Apr 10, 2011 09:28 as a reply to  @ bohdank's post |  #4

Found this on another forum and thought this very funny to share here.

Olympus owners:

Characterised by a deep seated paranoia and defensiveness, obsessed with sharpness and a desire to be different. Also obsessed with the colour blue. Often found in armed groups, in a circular defensive position with masking tape over any Olympus logo's. Alternative hobbies include razor honing and Apple computers. Favoured occupation, Professional outcast/Blacksheep.

Canon owners:

Spec freaks, obsessed with being bigger/faster/longer. Often overhead shouting "I don't care what I shoot as long as I shoot it fast!". Some signs of deap seated insecurity, guaranteed to get upset if they hear the word "Nikon". Alternative hobbies include playing "Camera Top Trumps" or body building. Often known to wear Canon branded underpants

Nikon owners:

Competition obsessives, often more interested in everyone else's gear than their own. More often than not can be found shooting bats in caves. Despite having the best flash system they often scorn "strobes" as being for wimps. Alternative hobbies include potholing. Will often turn into raging psychopaths at the mention of the words "pixel mapping". Favoured occupation - Police officer.

Pentax owners:

Weather obsessives, can often be found shooting near any large waterfall dressed in wetsuits and laughing maniacally. Obsessed with the colour green and small lenses.

Will turn into raging psychopaths at the mention of the words "zoom" and "SDM motors". Favourite saying "if it ain't raining it ain't training". Alternative hobbies include scuba diving and polar exploration. Favoured occupation - Storm chaser.

Full Frame shooters:

Blur obsessives, they have strong desire to shoot portraits with a single hair in focus.

Favourite word is "equivalence" which they often repeat ad-infinitum. They often walk with a stoop or with their own personal Sherpa. Alternative hobbies include "working out". Favoured occupation - Teacher or Deity.

M4/3's shooters:

Minimalist obsessives, often shoot wearing big coats or cargo pants with re-inforced pockets, they usually drive Fiat 500's or smaller. Favourite holiday destination is Lilliput. Guaranteed to explode at the mention of the word's "Nex" or "large".
Alternative hobbies include Feng shui. Most likely occupation, Microbiologist.

Leica owners:

Status obsessives, often found preening near any other camera users. Obsessed with red dots. Generally not seen using their cameras but usually overtly displaying them.

Often seen raging at the words "cheap", "auto-focus" and "zoom". Alternative hobbies include Art and/or Prestige car collecting. Preferred occupations include Royalty and Lottery winners.

I'm No Rocket Surgeon

Cream of the Crop
14,060 posts
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Joined Jan 2008
Location: Montreal, Canada
Apr 10, 2011 09:33 |  #5

Keep 'em coming.... good stuff.

Bohdan - I may be, and probably am, completely wrong.
Gear List

Montreal Concert, Event and Portrait Photographer (external link)
Flickr (external link)

199 posts
Joined Jan 2011
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Apr 10, 2011 10:46 |  #6

Hahahahaha! Great idea for a thread! :D

Gear: The cheapest things I can find! :D | My Flickr:​scribblesonfilm (external link)

Cream of the Crop
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Location: San Diego County, California, USA
Apr 10, 2011 11:35 |  #7


The probability of a piece of gear failing is in a direct relationship to the importance of the shoot and in a reverse relationship to the availability of back up gear.

An unintentional insult as in, "That's a wonderful picture; you must have a great camera!" Equivalent insult that is never heard, "What a wonderful meal you must have great pots!"

See my images at http://rpcrowe.smugmug​.com/ (external link)

Senior Member
407 posts
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Joined May 2006
Location: Dubai/New Zealand
Apr 10, 2011 12:02 |  #8

jffielde wrote in post #12193317 (external link)
- A lens maker of comparable quality to Canon and Nikon that has elected to jettison autofocus in favor of greater weight and cost.

And also jettisoning the actual manufacture of alot of its lenses by outsourcing to Japanese contractors.

5DIV | 16-35L f2.8 III | 24L II | 35L II | 50L | 85L II | 70-200L II | 300L II IS | 1.4x III | 2x III | 580EX II (external link)

Glenn ­ NK
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Joined Oct 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Apr 10, 2011 12:45 |  #9

I'll be following this thread closely.

Many thanks to the OP for starting it, and some great definitions. I especially like the one about Zeiss.


PS - someone must come up with a definition of Canon's TSE lenses - they are head and shoulders above the competition (and does Zeiss even know how to make one?).

When did voluptuous become voluminous?

195 posts
Joined Nov 2010
Apr 10, 2011 14:36 |  #10

My pleasure.

Senior Member
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Joined Dec 2010
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Apr 10, 2011 17:44 as a reply to  @ jffielde's post |  #11

Good stuff. And I can use the laugh before heading work.

3,160 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Oct 2009
Location: Minnesota
Apr 10, 2011 17:53 |  #12

Sigma (lenses)
A cheap imitation of their Canon counterpart that is incapable of producing a photograph. Only hobbyists use Sigma lenses

(or something like that) :D

Canon EOS 1D III
Manfrotto 190X Pro B w/324RC2 "Action Head" | Canon 580EX II
Sigma 20 f/1.8 | Canon 35 f/1.4 L | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | Sigma 85 f/1.4 | Canon 135 f/2 L
Flick (external link)r

Mark ­ II
2,153 posts
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Joined Mar 2009
Location: Texas
Apr 10, 2011 17:58 as a reply to  @ fishwich's post |  #13


A lot of nothing about nothing. Everyone hears and sees it being said & shown while not wanting to hear or see it of themselves ... but still, say & show it loud enough to ruin everything all too often.

Not knowing exactly what went wrong.

When a photographer gets caught with his pants down.

The ebonic version of "lens". (you might have to be from the south to know this one).

Dirty sensor:
Allways overlooked until everyone else points it out. Kinda like a bugger.

1DX7D - 40D IR converted Sony RX100,
Canon 85 L II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, EF 24-105L, 16-35mm f/2.8 II L, 100L & 60mm Macro , Fisheye EF 15mm f2.8, Tokina 10-17

1,592 posts
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Joined Jun 2008
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
Apr 10, 2011 18:05 as a reply to  @ Mark II's post |  #14

Rule Of Thirds

The secret password required to get into Critique Corner

SOK Images - Wedding and Event Photography Gold Coast (external link)

195 posts
Joined Nov 2010
Apr 10, 2011 20:16 |  #15

I suspect that your post will be the last, now that this thread has been given the death penalty and banished to POTN's Siberian wilderness. Still it was fun for the morning.

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