Gamma & other tough, chewy terms

Every time I write a manual for our company, I inevitably stumble upon the need to explain some basic terms. ‘Basic’ isn’t really the correct descriptor because it often implies that something is easy to understand.

For instance, this past week I was writing about a parameter in our ToonIt! Photo plugin. The control is called Lighter Type and the way to describe its Lighter1 option is to say that Lighter1 alters the ‘gamma’ of the source image. Well, I know that ‘gamma’ refers to colors but whew, I get completely lost after that.

A different kind of gamma.

Glad I’m not the only one. I googled ‘what is gamma’ and immediately came up with this explanation:

“How do you define gamma? Gamma is one of the most difficult computer terms to define. Even experienced computer technicians have a difficult time understanding what it is. We will attempt to simplify it.”

Well that reassured me but the explanation was a little difficult to follow. Too hardware driven, talking a lot about monitors. I found the info on this page more relevant:

“In video, computer graphics, and image processing, the gamma symbol represents a numerical parameter that describes the nonlinear relationship between pixel value and luminance (or what you might loosely call “intensity”). Having a good understanding of the theory and practice of gamma will enable you to get good results when you create, process and display pictures.”

And there you have it. So have a gamma good day! (Which I suppose means have a luminescent or intense day.)

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