Some Photo Editing Terms you Really Need to Know

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When it comes to photo editing, there are plenty of terms you need to know unless you wish to be confused by the services that someone at a product photo editing company tries to sell you. In short, it tells you the quality of clipping path service you can get for your buck. Following are some words and phrases it would do you well to understand on some level.

Aspect Ratio

This is the proportion of an image’s width over its height. If, for instance, you have one that is 500×400, then the aspect ratio is 5:4, because the longer side or the width is 1.25 times the short one. This has all to do with fractions and knowing that the width goes over the fraction line.

You need to be concerned with this because any change in a photo’s aspect ratio also changes its shape—sometimes considerably— and also affects it’s fit on a page when it gets printed. A 3:2 image to be printed on 8×10 paper, for instance, would need to either be compressed a lot, or cropped so that it is the same shape as the paper.

Aliasing and Anti-Aliasing

Aliasing is when you have pixels in the shape of squares, which commonly gives a jagged look caused by diagonal lines when it comes to the edges of curved shapes and circles. The central reason why this happens is that you are using a square pixel to represent a part of the picture that is not square in any way.

You also have something called “jaggies”, which are jagged stair-step-looking things that occur due to aliasing. Anti-aliasing is a process wherein these are “softened” to a degree, or even completely removed. If, for example, there is an apple placed on a white dish as one of the subjects, anti-aliasing makes some of the pixels on the edges carry both red and white colors, which looks good overall.

Clarity vs. Sharpen

These two terms may seem to signify the same thing at first, but they carry major differences. The sharpening tool in a photo editor dials up the contrast between various pixel tones. By that token, “sharpen” here means creating a contrast between dark and light pixels. Clarity is something different, in that increasing it brings up the contrast you have between the middle tones. Clarity is a tool used to amplify the textures of the image, while sharpen boosts edge contrast. Use too much of the latter and you can end up with halos around the areas of contrast.

Unsharp Mask

“Unsharp” seems like “blurry” at first hearing, but an unsharp mask is actually a tool in some photo editors which can be employed to sharpen an image. “Unsharp” simply refers to the “how” of the creation of a sharper image, which includes making a blurry copy and then taking that out from the original, so that you get a clearer result. Some product photo editing services make use of this, but not everyone can guarantee they will do it the right way.


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The term has gained great prominence in recent times, especially among SLR camera owners who use a ton of filters to beautify their snaps. It actually traces to the word “boke” in Japanese, which means haze or blur. In simple terms, Bokeh is the appealing fairy-light effect which you get when all of the out-of-focus elements of an image combine to form a beautiful blur. Photographers manage this through the use of wide, fast lens. That said, the same can be achieved through competent photo editing after the fact, regardless of the lens that was used to capture the image.

Blown Out

Seen in overexposed photos, “blowing out” is a specific side effect when there is too much light coming in from near the subject. For example, suppose it is a sunny day and you are snapping a picture of someone standing before the window. If the exposure settings in your camera are decided based on this person, then the light coming in on the sides would cause the final picture to end up a bit overexposed. This would effectively leave the window area almost completely white, which is what overexposure is in a nutshell. The RGB values of the pixels in those areas have maxed out at 255, leaving you unable to retrieve any detail from them. In other words, the picture is “blown out”.

The above are some of the photo editing terms that bear knowing the next time that you sit down with someone who provides product photo editing, and who is trying to discuss specifics with you. Other terms you can Google and easily pick up on include histogram, underexposure, lossless compression, etc. After that, you would be able to understand their jargon up to some extent.

Some Photo Editing Terms you Really Need to Know
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