One of my textbooks for Chinese contains a lesson entitled "拍照". The lesson contains an exercise with questions that need to be answered using vocabulary and constructions from the lesson. The last question is:


The lesson's vocabulary lists contains words such as 光线 and 闪光灯,but not 用光, which MDBG translates as "out of (supply) / spent / exhausted (used up) / depleted". MDBG's translation does not make sense to me in this context. So what does the sentence mean? “How do you use the light when making photos?”


2 Answers 2


"用光" always means use and exhaust something. It is inappropriate to use that verb in photography, no matter it is HK, Taiwan or China, nobody use that word for photography or film making.

Mandarin has a special jargon for taking flash/lighting adjustment .

打光 or 打光线 or 用闪光灯

In case of "make use of light". Without flash, mean make use of natural light for composition.

运用光线 / 运用光线构图

for metering


In filming and photo shooting , when you run out of battery or memory storage/ film

用光电池 / 用光记忆卡/用光菲林

So you can see it is bad attempt to associate 用光 with the use/preparation of light.

Imagine the camera man told the director, "Too dim, need more light"

太暗了, 需要用光 <-- The director will ask what the cameraman need due to (battery, film, data storage) exhaust/deplete/used up, or perhaps get a smack.

太暗了, 需要打光 <== this is something everyone understand clearly


Chinese terseness: 用光 用闪光灯 using the flash

  • 用光 is not the short for 用闪光灯 and it's much broader. It refers to the whole light aspect in photography.
    – NS.X.
    Dec 11, 2016 at 3:41
  • @NS.X.: Yes, I think it's a little ambigous due to the lack of the context. You know that sometimes Chinese poeple like using "Topic Sentence". So this relies on how you understand “光”. This is a little puzzling. And I've changed the post. You can also do some changes to make it better :-)
    – xqMogvKW
    Dec 11, 2016 at 4:38
  • @DongWei I've never heard people use 用光 to mean 用闪光灯, but I can imagine it as a possible scenario. Regardless, you should make your own answer since you've added more information in your editing than the original answer.
    – NS.X.
    Dec 11, 2016 at 5:01
  • Apparently, he knows how to edit, but not how to write an answer! Does it cost money to write your own answer?
    – Gangosa
    Dec 11, 2016 at 10:03

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