The Lomography Analogue Photoglossary

Photo by: polaroidgirl

Photography has so many terms floating around, like apertures, shutter speeds, over and underexposure, that it’s fairly easy to become lost in translation. Did a film snob sneer at you when you said ‘120mm’? If you’re still unfamiliar with these terms, fear not as all Lomographers, from the newly born to the very pioneers, struggled with these same concepts as well. That is why we’re lending a helping hand and compiling them here for you guys! Enjoy!

135 – Also called 35mm; the most common film format.
120 – A type of paper-backed film used in various medium format cameras like the Diana+ and Lubitel 166+. Find 120 film in our store.
Aperture – A hole or opening through which light travels. On a camera, the aperture is adjustable so you can control the amount of light reaching the film. Find out more on Aperture.
Aperture Ring – A ring around your camera’s lens, which, when adjusted, lets you make the aperture larger or smaller.
ASA – This little acronym refers to how much light you’ll need to expose your film correctly. It stands for American Standards Association, whose photographic exposure system became the basis for the more common International Standards Organization (ISO) film speed system in 1987.
Auto Exposure – Found in a number of modern cameras, this is an exposure system that exposes the film correctly every time, without the adjustment of manual settings.
Blur – Refers to the out-of-focus parts of a photo. Blur can be found either in the background or foreground of a sharp subject, or all over for the feeling of motion.

Bokeh – Refers to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus part of an image caused by shallow depth of field.
Bulb – Is the shutter setting that keeps the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter button.
Cds – Stands for Cadmium Sulphide, which is a chemical compound used in light meters commonly found on cameras with an automatic exposure system. e.g. the LC-A+
Cross Process – There are two types of colour film chemistry: C-41 (for colour negatives) and E-6 (for colour slides). Cross processing is, essentially, dunking unprocessed film in the “wrong” chemistry for its film type. When colour slide film is cross-processed in C-41 chemistry, the resulting images have deeply saturated colours and high contrast – both photographic qualities coveted by Lomographers worldwide.

Colorsplash Camera – A Lomographic camera with a wheel-mounted gel system in front of its built-in flash. The gels are interchangeable, and coupled with a rear-curtain flash system. So your photos can be “splashed” with any combination of colours.
Colour gels – Transparent, coloured plastic tabs that you can insert in front of a light or flash to create a multi-coloured scene on film.

Composition – The art of arranging a photograph.
Contact print – A print of a roll of negatives laid out on a sheet of photographic paper. You can use a contact print to view images for print selection.
Continuous Panorama – A panoramic image made with any camera which spans the entire length of a roll of film.

Darkroom – Literally, a dark room in which you can chemically process film or print from negatives without exposing the photo-sensitive film and paper to light.
Diaphragm – The diaphragm is the part inside a lens that creates the aperture – it’s what blocks out unwanted light from your film.
DIY – Stands for “do it yourself.” Many Lomographers like to make their own pinhole cameras or achieve unusual photographic effects by experimenting with different processing or printing techniques in the darkroom.
Double Exposure – A technique in which a piece of film is exposed twice. Double exposures can result in a dreamy, layered effect, or an upside-down, mish-mash world of your choosing!

Electronic Flash – A camera accessory which can add a burst of light to a dark subject for proper film exposure.
Emulsion – The matte side of a film or paper which is light sensitive. When film or photographic paper is exposed and processed, the emulsion reveals an image.
Exposure – The amount of light which reaches your film when taking a photograph.
Exposure Time – The amount of time your shutter is open and your film is exposed to light. If you choose to expose your film for a long amount of time, your aperture will need to be smaller, and vice versa. See “Shutter speed.”
F-stop – The numbers on the aperture ring that represent the size of the aperture in your lens. An F-stop is a ratio which stands for the focal length divided by the “effective” aperture diameter, but all you have to really remember is: the bigger the number, the smaller the hole.

Photo from

Fast Film – Film with a high sensitivity to light. The term is usually used when referring to films ISO 800 and higher. Fast film is good for low-light conditions or indoor photography, as well as for action shots.
Film – A sheet of plastic coated with a photo-sensitive emulsion. When used in a camera, the emulsion captures light which creates latent images, viewable when the film is chemically treated.
Film Identification Window – A small window on the back of your camera which is used to view a small portion of the film canister in the camera. This portion of the canister identifies the speed and type of film loaded into the camera.
Film Speed – Also referred to with the acronyms ASA or ISO; used to indicate the film’s sensitivity to light. If the speed of your film is below ISO 200, you have a slow film which has very fine grain. Slow film yields sharp images with good contrast and high colour saturation, but needs lots of light or a long exposure time. ISO 400 is a very versatile film speed, good for outdoor conditions of any kind, or indoor flash photography. Fast films with an ISO of 800, 1600, or 3200 can be used in low light or indoors, but have much larger grain.
Filter – Any transparent or translucent plastic or glass placed in front of a lens or flash to create different effects.
Fisheye Lens – An extremely wide-angle lens which yields hemispherical images on film, the Fisheye lens is named for the field of vision which fish are believed to have. Have a look at our Fisheye cameras to discover their creative potential!

Focus – Bringing a subject into sharp view using a camera’s lens.
Focus Free – also called “fixed focus,” a type of lens with no manual focus control; designed for sharp focus at any distance.
Grain – The sand-like, granular appearance of silver halides on film. High ISO films have larger (and therefore more visible) grain.

Half Frame – A type of 35mm camera in which the film plane is half its normal width. This allows you to expose twice as many frames as usual on one roll of 35mm film by taking two portrait-rectangular shots where there would normally only be one landscape-rectangular image.

High Contrast – Refers to a great difference between the bright areas and dark areas on a photographic print.

Horizon – 1.A line where the earth appears to meet the sky. The word “horizontal” is derived from “horizon,” as the horizon line usually runs right to left (in outer space, this is not always the case). 2. Also refers to the Russian swing lens camera of the same name that yields a full 120 degrees of vision for a panoramic image.
Hot shoe – The electronic contact point on a camera at which you can attach an electronic flash.
Instant Film – Film which develops into a photographic print instantly, usually in 90 seconds or less.Instant cameras
LC-A – A Russian-made camera, the Lomo Compact Automat is known for its minitar-1 lens which yields saturated colours and its leaf shutter which creates corner vignettes. The Chinese made version is known as the LC-A+.
Lens – A glass or plastic element attached to a camera which allows images to be captured on film.
Lensbaby – A company that manufactures selective-focus glass and plastic lenses for SLR and DSLR cameras.
Light Leaks – White or red streaks on film created by stray light that enters a camera body. While originally accidental, creating light leaks on images is now a well-known technique used by plastic camera photographers.

Light Meter – Measures light’s intensity and gauges the amount of light in a given scene; used to determine the proper aperture and shutter speed to use.
Light Painting – The art of using an external light source to “paint” or draw streaks of light in front of a camera’s lens. During a long exposure, film will capture uninterrupted streaks as one continuous line of light, which can be used to make luminous scenes or words appear on film.

LomoAddict –A lomographer who uploads a photo of themselves with a Lomographic camera to
LomoHome – A place on the web to upload your lomographs – the limit is 500 photos per day.
Lomographer – A person who loves Lomography, who creates a LomoHome, uses Lomographic cameras and films, religiously practises the 10 Golden Lomographic Rules and shares the analogue love with everyone.
Lomograph – Any photograph taken with a Lomographic camera.

Long exposure – This is an effect achieved by setting a long-duration shutter speed so that stationary objects in the field of view appear sharp while moving elements will be blurred. For best results, practice in low-light conditions or with a very slow film speed. Try shooting a street corner with moving traffic and you will not be disappointed.

meta data – Meta data is a keyword or term assigned to the photos. Meta data helps describe a photo and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. Tags are chosen informally and personally by the creator.
Multi-Lens camera – A camera which has more than one lens, and is capable of capturing a scene multiple times on one piece of film. Find out the fun you can have with the multi-lens cameras.

Overexposure – When too much light reaches the film, causing a printed image to lack detail or look too light or “washed out” or “blown out.” Also a technique employed by Lomographers to add interest and a unique quality to their shots.

Pinhole Camera – A camera which bears (instead of a lens) a tiny hole through which light can reach film and create an image. Because the aperture of a pinhole camera is so small, it creates an image in which everything in front of the camera is sharp. Pinhole photographs need a long exposure time!

Pinstax – Instant pinhole photography made possible by using the Diana Instant Back+.
Point and Shoot – A camera with fully automatic settings, allowing the user to create photographs without setting a shutter speed or aperture.
Polaroid – A brand of instant film and cameras which has sadly ceased production as of February 2008.
Print – A piece of photographic paper with a finished image on it.
Redscale – The technique of shooting through the orange base of a film to the emulsion creating an image with a red/orange/yellow hued. Basically you are just loading your film in upside down and exposing the film through the backside. Sometimes done by mistake but always a loved result by lomographers.

Ring flash – A circular flash that can be attached around a camera’s lens, designed for even portraiture lighting.
Shutter speed – How long your camera’s shutter stays open; usually measured in fractions of a second. You can adjust your camera’s shutter speed via a dial on the camera body in order to achieve light-streaked photos, correctly expose a scene, or sharply capture a fast-moving object.
Slide film – A film that yields a positive image when processed normally with E6 chemicals.
Soft focus – A technique that yields “retro-” or “dreamy-looking” images wherein the subject is not in sharp focus. Achieved by adjusting focus or using plastic lenses.
Splitzer – An accessory which slides over a camera’s lens in order to dissect multiply-exposed images into halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths or smaller. Discover the effects Splitzers create!
Sprocket holes – Perforation located on both edges of a 35mm film that is used to guide film through a camera from its canister.
Sprocket hole photography –This is a photographic technique in which the full width of your 35mm film is exposed. The resulting image spreads to the very edges of your film, including and extending beyond the film’s sprocket holes. The effect is achieved by running 35mm film through a medium format camera, either by using a specialized back (like the Diana+ Back Door Set), or via DIY techniques.

Tipster – The section on where a variety of photographic techniques, camera modifications and anything analogue are compiled for your enjoyment. Also a term for someone who is successfully inventive in terms of his or her Lomographic ingenuity.
Underexposure – When insufficient light reaches the film. Underexposing is also a technique employed when exposing one frame of film multiple times, in order to prevent overexposure.

Vignetting – Dark corners present on photographic prints which emphasize the photo’s subject and create depth in a photograph.

Got any analogue photography term you’d like to add/suggest? Hit us up with an e-mail!

Apply your new knowledge to help you find the perfect camera!

written on 2010-07-05 in #camera