Understanding your histogram

In post processing, Tutorial by Bob Wild

Who Said:
A photographer is an acrobat treading the high wire of chance, trying to capture shooting stars.
Guy Le Querrec

Understanding your cameras histogram

The one aspect of the modern day digital cameras that I use and almost entirely depend on is the histogram, as it gives you, the user, a graphical preview of various aspects of an image before it is either permanently saved or deleted. This graphical representation is based on the tonal values of a particular image and is known as a histogram. Put simply, the tones of brightness (or lack thereof) in your camera are what a histogram is all about. The dark tones of an image are towards the left side of this feature. As you move to the right, the tones grow lighter and lighter and are brightest at the extreme right part of the camera.

As you look at the histogram, you should notice that the heights in the graph are not all constant. It is a graph which varies indicating the different tones within the image. It’s often believed that the perfect histogram would be a bell curve, but most times that is technically impossible.

Reading your histogram

It is as simple as indicated earlier; the levels of brightness tend to increase as you veer closer to the right. If it is an incredibly dark picture, you will see one large line on the left. The reverse is true if it’s an over exposed image.

Usually, you are required to use histograms to set your exposure. You are basically looking to make sure that you do not have too much light or darkness in the final image. The ideal camera has four histograms, (Combined, Red, Green,Blue), so when you are making adjustments, always avoid making use of just one of those because the results are going to be less than stellar. All histograms indicate relevant data, what? You may be thinking? The graph shows whether any of the details have been lost. This phenomenon is known as ‘clipping’ which every single photographer out there dreads.

To come up with a final image, try to avoid extremes of bright or dark, because they will essentially underexpose or overexpose the picture. Take note; this is the norm. There are exceptions to every rule, such as night photography, or shooting into the sun.

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