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The ABC of Photography – L

Lange, Dorothea

Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) was an American photojournalist and documentary photographer. Her most famous image was taken in the 1930s, when she recorded the plight of sharecroppers and migrant labourers during the Depression era for the American government’s Farm Security Administration. Her best-known picture, Migrant Mother (1936) has come to symbolise the era.

Large format

See format.

Lasso tool

A pencil-like Photoshop tool that you can use to select an area you want to work on simply by drawing around it.


The digital counterpart of the cut-out pieces of paper in a collage or decoupage. Layers containing cut-out objects can be stacked on top of an original image or Background layer in order to create a composite image. Adjustments and effects can also be applied in

the form of adjustment layers, enabling you to alter the exposure, colour, and so on, without actually altering the original. Layers can be opaque, translucent, or merged

with layers in the stack below in a number of ways.

Layers panel

Formerly known as the Layers palette, this Photoshop feature enables you to manage and organize the layers in a multi-layered image, add new layers or adjustment layers, and change the way in which layers interact with each other (such as their opacity and blending mode).

LCD (liquid crystal display)

Type of display panel used widely on cameras to provide information to the user. High-resolution colour LCDs are capable of showing detailed images and are used as viewing screens on digital cameras.


This features on Tamron lenses that use one or more Low Dispersion lens elements to help reduce chromatic aberration.

Leaf shutter

Also known as a diaphragm shutter, it uses overlapping ‘leaves’ of metal, which open and close to allow light to reach the image sensor or film. It’s usually located between lens elements, and is commonly found on medium- and large-format cameras.


LED (light-emitting diode)

Coloured indicator lamp used on many cameras.


A selective focus lens with a flexible bellows tube section used for creating special effects. It

allows the photographer to keep part of the image in focus while the rest becomes increasingly blurred. The point of focus can be moved by pushing or pulling the lens.

Lens hood

Attaches to the front of the lens to prevent stray light from outside the image area entering the lens. The lens hood is important for preventing flare and needs to be designed for a specific lens so as not to cause image falloff.



A tool used in digital image manipulation to adjust exposure, contrast and colour balance. Histograms are used as a guide to the corrections that need to be made to the image.

Light-field camera

Also known as a plenoptic camera, this device uses microlens-array technology to record images in a completely different way to a conventional camera. Uniquely, this allows images to be re-focused after they have been shot. The first light-field camera was introduced by Lytro in 2011.

Light meter

A device used to measure the amount of light and determine the correct exposure. Most cameras have built-in light meters that measure the reflected light from a subject, as do hand-held reflected light meters. Incident light meters measure the light falling on the subject, and readings are taken from the subject’s position with the light meter pointing back towards the camera.

Light modifier

Any, one of a number of devices that alters the direction and intensity of light. See reflector, softbox, snoot, barn doors and beauty dish.

Light trails

Lines of light recorded in an image by a moving light source during the exposure. Examples are vehicle lights on a motorway at night, lights on a fairground Ferris wheel or someone moving a hand-held torch. They can also result from shooting images of still lights and moving the camera during the exposure.


A photographic style originally inspired by the images produced using the low-cost Russian-made 35mm Lomo LC-A camera, introduced in the 1980s. Lomography enthusiasts include lens blur, light leaks, and other camera quirks as an important part of their images.

Long exposure

An exposure in which the camera’s shutter is open for an extended time period. It may be used at night to capture movement, such as car lights on a motorway or star trails, or during daylight to blur water movement in a river running through a scene. Long exposures in daylight are usually made using a neutral density (ND) filter to prevent over-exposure.

Long-focus lens

A lens used to magnify distant subjects that have a focal length longer than the diagonal measurement of the image sensor or film being used. In 35mm terms, this is any lens with a focal length longer than the ‘normal’ 50mm.

Lossless compression

A process whereby the size of a digital image file is made smaller without losing information. Lossless formats include TIFF and PNG.

Lossy compression

A process in which information is lost from a digital image file to make the file size smaller. This reduces the image quality, although the result may not be noticeable. JPEG is the most common file format to use lossy compression.

Low key

An image that is dominated by dark tones.

Sources:  Pixabay, NASA,Wikipedia, Susan Wingfield Lamar High School

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