I’d have to say that after looking more into the “terminology” and reading your replies (thank you for all of your help), I think my confusion has disapeared.
It is amazing how formal…but also how rude the dictionary of a language can correct/prove someone’s knowledge of a term:
: of, relating to, or having the qualities of a mirror
1 : being at once verbose and ill-organized
2 : not concentrated or localized
1 a : to pour out and permit or cause to spread freely b : EXTEND, SCATTER c : to spread thinly or wastefully
2 : to subject to diffusion; especially : to break up and distribute (incident light) by reflection
1 : to spread out or become transmitted especially by contact
2 : to undergo diffusion
1 : having a surface luster or brightness
2 : attractive in an artificially opulent, sophisticated, or smoothly captivating manner
1 : a caustic agent: as a : a substance that burns or destroys organic tissue by chemical action
2 : the envelope of rays emanating from a point and reflected or refracted by a curved surface
1 : capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
2 : marked by incisive sarcasm
3 : relating to or being the surface or curve of a caustic[/i]
Not to distinguish anyone but jeremybirn pretty much answered my question.
But that very knowledge of terms from different people is what confounded me. In sense the dictionary doesn’t matter because we are all brought up learning words in different ways. With the added art of CG people change terms to fit certain things or create slang to describe things thus pretty much burning the dictionary, which is where A LOT of the arguing on these kind of forums come from. If I am totally wrong than just say so, but this is what I have seen.
Which is why I’d have to say that you are all correct. What I really wanted to know was the term defined by the people and not by the formal dictionary, so I will know what I am doing when it comes to creating stuff…so I know that I am using the right terms that everyone will agree upon.
Overall…from the thriving community…and in somewhat of a complete aggreement with the dictionary…this is what I have set in my mind and learned…please correct me if I am wrong…but I also ask that you think about the different possibilities of the terms…
Light emanates from an energy source creating photons (in creation not transmission in any way), due to the finite way a processor can calculate something because of our perception of temporal space…we have to crunch down the what seems to be an infinite amount of rays (from what I have learned rays are just a way to visualize things…a path, technically there is no “ray”, just a photon being created/shot out from the energy levels in an atom or being transferred through them). When they come in contact with something (ignoring minute scattering from air molecules), they either reflect, go through (I forget the technical term), or are absorbed. When they are reflected, they always follow a law (he he, once again I forget the name), the incident ray is equal to the reflected ray. The microscopic geometry is what gives birth to either diffuse or specular appearance (note that I use the word appearance), or glossy which what I’m going to take from playmesumch00ns is in between the other two. Photons going through the material is transparency along with the density of the material which is governed by the refraction index, and absorbtion which will give color (well along with the reflected ones too, it’s all of them that give it’s final color). Once the photon goes through all of this…from what I have gotten here…a caustic is when those photons are reflected/refracted back from a curved surface (through dictionary) and are focused back down to create an image on whatever surface they come to next.
From this I am going to consider diffuse, glossy, and specular the adjectives they are to describe the appearance of the reflected rays from a material. Caustic and (wow I can’t find a term to decribe the opposite, I’ll use diffusion, if there is a term please say so but GI just didn’t sound right) diffusion are the appearance of the focused/unfocused images that are reflected back off another material due to indirect light.
This is where the whole things began really. Everywhere I looked on forums and tutorials I saw caustics only in appearance by a “hotspot” or bright patterns like in the pool example that cpnichols gave. It all made sense but I really wanted to clear up the “people’s” definition to ask if an image created from a lens for a camera could be called a caustic. It sort of put a final close on my confusion.