Photos & More

Definitions & Apps

We may occasionally use an unfamiliar photographic term in these posts, so we have included these definitions to assist those unfamiliar with the details. If we use a term you don’t understand, please leave a comment so we can improve this site.

Circular Polarization Filter

A circular polarization filter is attached to the front of a lens to reduce light reflections (think of polarizing sunglasses). The filter is rotated to the best angle to reduce reflections from objects or sunlight bouncing around the atmosphere. This enhances photographs by increasing color saturation (resulting in bluer skies and brighter colors) and contrast.


High Dynamic Range (HDR) – A technique used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater range of exposure (light and dark areas) than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. HDR is useful for many real-world scenes containing both direct sunlight and extreme shadows.

The goal is to present a similar appearance to that experienced through the human visual system. The human eye, through adaptation of the iris and other methods, adjusts constantly to adapt to a broad range of light present in the environment. The brain continuously interprets this information so that a viewer can see clearly in a wide range of light conditions, a much wider range than any camera can in a single exposure.

In digital photography, the desired result can be achieved by capturing the same subject with multiple exposures, and then combining them using editing software such as Lightroom or Photoshop, or specialized HDR software such as Aurora HDR. The software selects areas that are properly exposed in each of the images and merges them into single image which provides a greater exposure range. In simple terms, the darkest areas would be selected from otherwise overexposed image while the brightest areas would be selected from otherwise underexposed image.


In photography, a panorama is a wide view or representation of a subject (frequently a landscape or vista). It can also apply to painting, drawing, or a three-dimensional model. The motion-picture term panning is derived from panorama.

In digital photography, the most common method for producing panoramas is to take a series of overlapping pictures and merge (or stitch) them together, using specialized software such as Lightroom or Photoshop. To successfully merge multiple images into a panorama, the pictures must be taken from the same position (to avoid alignment errors between adjacent images), and there must be sufficient overlap in adjacent images that the software can identify features common to both; the recommended overlap is about 30%.

Software and Apps

I use a number of apps on my computer and smartphone to assist with the photography process. I will mention them here in case anyone is interested in using them.

Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR is computer software created specifically for editing High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. It can be used as a stand-alone editor or as a plugin to Lightroom so photos in Lightroom can be combined in Aurora directly, without having to save Lightroom edits, open and combine them in Aurora, save the results, and then import them into Lightroom.

Geotag Photos Pro

When turned on, this smartphone app periodically records my GPS location and time and uploads it to a website to create a trip log. Using a corresponding app on my computer, the app will read the website data and add the GPS location to the metadata of matching photos saved on the computer. Configurable settings control the minimum distance between tagged locations and how frequently locations are saved. The app supports multiple ways to save and access the data.


Lightroom is an image management and editing program developed by Adobe (the same company that created Photoshop). Using Lightroom, photographers are able to organize, sort, and process their images, and eventually export for printing and sharing. One major advantage of Lightroom is the image edits are non-destructive — they are saved as a series of commands in a small text file that is applied when the image is displayed, printed, or exported. Thus, any change can be easily reversed and multiple versions of the same image with different edits can be made without using significant disk storage. In addition to more common image editing tools (e.g. exposure, contrast, color correction, sharpening, noise reduction), Lightroom is able to merge multiple images into a panorama, merge multiple exposures into an HDR image, and combine multiple images taken at multiple exposures into an HDR panorama in one step.

Moon Seeker

This smartphone app shows the path of the moon (compass direction and elevation) for any city or GPS location and any date. For the selected date and location, it also displays the % illumination and the next phase of the moon.

Photos Exif Editor

This computer app allows me to edit the Exif data associated with a digital camera image. This data can include camera and photograph information such as camera make and model, lens make and model, camera exposure data, date and time, and metadata such as keywords, copyright information, image title and description, image size, and GPS location.

rGPS (Really Good Photo Spots)

This smartphone app helps photographers find great photography locations near them, search for locations in distant locations, add their own locations, and share photos of the best spots. Shared photos are geotagged and reviewed by professional photographers who rate the photos and confirm the GPS coordinates.

Sun Seeker

This smartphone app shows the path of the sun (compass direction and elevation) for any city or GPS location and any date. For the selected date and location, it also displays the shadow ratio and path length.

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