Photoshop Terms Explained

This is an ever-expanding glossary for Photoshop terms – I will add to this list as I come across terms I think may better be explained in more detail. If you have any suggestions for additions, feel free to leave a comment under the respective blog entry or use the contact form to send me an email.

General Photomanipulation Terms


Contrary to popular believe (or wishful thinking), every image (!!!!) created is copyrighted from the moment the photographer pushes that shutter button (or by any other act of creating art –> Berne Convention). This means that if you want to use something in your photomanips or however else – no matter if you make money off of it or not! – you need to have the consent of the copyright holder to use it. No amount of work you put in will make it yours if you do not get that permission. Luckily for us, there are lots of generous people out there willing to give you images for free to use, but you have to adhere to their terms of use [see stock].


Stock photos are images that are shot by one person, uploaded to a website or stock catalogue and offered there for use by others under certain conditions which have to be followed (= licensed). These conditions can be set forth by the individual or by the company owning the website where the images are uploaded. Here for example, you can find mine under “Terms of Use”.
>> More information on wikipedia.

Adobe Programmes

Below is a list of Adobe products I use. The links in the explanations go to the respective wikipedia page where you can find a version history and a more in depth explanation.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor programme that has become the industry standard because of its broad possibilities for editing and composing images. It has even entered into common language as a verb: you photoshop an image / an image was (photo)shopped — meaning the image has seen alerations in a graphics programme (not necessarily Photoshop itself).

I have been using it for my photomanipulations as well as any kind of design-related things (like website graphics, birthday cards,…) since version 6 (roughly 15 years ago – oh how I’m getting old ;)). So to say I’m hooked on it may be the understatement of the year 😀

The closest you’ll probably get to PS if you do not want to spend the money is GIMP – but I haven’t opened that in years so I cannot help you figure it out…

Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge comes together with Photoshop and works like a file browser with some extended organizing capabilities. For example, you can add ratings and labels like you can in Lightroom and then only have it show the five star images in a folder. You can also create collections similar to Lightroom.

I’ve been using it since they first rolled it out (less than 15 years ago) and until recently never saw the need to use Lightroom instead. Meanwhile I use Lightroom for my photos (because I shoot RAW and can easily develop my photos in LR), but for manips where I only want to browse what I have in stock, I use Bridge.

Adobe Camera RAW

Adobe Camera RAW is a plug-in for Photoshop which will let you open RAW files and edit them before importing them to Photoshop (for more editing). For years I only used Camera RAW and Bridge to browse my RAW photos and it worked fine for me. The RAW editing capabilities in Camera RAW are not as refined or comfortable to use as in LR (specifically the tools that let you affect only part of the image), but for me that was always enough, probably because I’m such a PS junkie that everything seemed easier there in post anyway.

Even if you do use Lightroom, I recommend you get the plug in so if you use Bridge for browsing your photos, you can import them directly to Photoshop. This I find very useful for my photomanipulation workflow (you can even import the RAWs as Smart Objects so you are able to go back to Camera RAW and tweak them later).

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a programme for editing (RAW) photographs. It focuses on the needs of photographers (in contrast to Photoshop which focuses more or less exclusively on editing / composing / designing tasks).

Lightrooms abilities include:

  • performing a number of organizing tasks such as adding ratings (stars) or labels to images
  • batch-processing of images (for example convert a whole folder full of RAW images to JPG format in a specified size)
  • non-destructive image editing (colour corrections, light & exposure adjustments, sharpening etc)

I haven’t been using this as much as I maybe should, just because I’m so familiar with Photoshop that for me it is often easier to do everything there. However, I do plan on expanding my Lightroom knowledge (it came in the Photoshop bundle, so I might as well make use of it). So far, I really love the batch processing option to quickly get all images of a shoot into small jpgs to share with models or to show to friends.

Update: after getting over the fact that having to import all your photos seemed such a hassle, I have finally found time to actually get into what LR can do and I am very impressed and happy to continue using it. I watched lots of videos from Terry White to get to that conclusion, in case you’re interested 😉