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Photography Histogram

Photography Histogram

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Published by Scribme_too
The histogram is a graph that allows you to judge the brightness of an image
The histogram is a graph that allows you to judge the brightness of an image

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Published by: Scribme_too on Jan 24, 2012
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12/24/2012

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Histogram
"Goldilocks and the Three Histograms" 
 More and more consumer digital cameras are now including a histogram display eitherduring the Record mode or in the Playback mode. This tutorial explains just what thehistogram is and how you can use it to ensure a correctly exposed picture.
What The Histogram Is
 The histogram is simply a graph that allows you to judge the brightness of an image. Youcan think of the area under the graph as comprising all the pixels in your captured digitalimage. The left side of the histogram depicts how many "dark" pixels you have captured;the right side, how many "bright" pixels you have captured.Let's look at the histograms of three pictures I took to illustrate how to read and use ahistogram:
Too Dark Just Right Too Bright
The left histogram indicates you have most of your pixels toward the dark. The pixels alsotouch the left edge, indicating underexposure [note 1]. If Goldilocks had stumbled ontothis histogram while taking a picture, you can hear her saying something to the effect:
"This picture is too dark."
 The right histogram indicates you have most of your pixels toward the highlight. The pixelsalso touch the right edge, indicating overexposure. Looking at this histogram, Goldilockswould wail something to the effect:
"This picture is too bright."
 The middle histogram depicts a correctly exposed picture with the pixels mostly in themiddle, i.e. neither too dark nor too bright. (Goldilocks:
"This picture is just right."
) Noticea few pixels touch the dark edge, so we should also expect a few very dark spots in thepicture.Perhaps the best way to understand the histogram is to look at the sample shots that gowith the above three histograms.
Too Dark
 
 
 
Shutter Speed 1/180 sec., Aperture F2.8, ISO 50
 Aim your camera out the window toward a street light at night or at a scene mostly indeep shadows, like the one above. Look at the histogram produced:At a glance, we can see that most of the pixels tend toward the dark (D) side. The pixelsalso touch the left edge, so we know that there are underexposed (
"too dark"
-- thankyou, Goldilocks) areas in our picture. To obtain a correct exposure, we can do a couple of things, taking the above picture as example:
 
In Program AE mode, dial in a positive exposure compensation in +1/3EV steps.(For the above picture, we'll dial in +1/3EV.)
 
In Manual mode, dial in a slower shutter speed, while retaining the same aperture.(For the above picture, the shutter speed used was 1/180 sec., so we'll dial in aslower shutter speed at 1/125 sec.)
 
In Manual mode, dial in a wider aperture, while retaining the same shutter speed.(For the above picture, an aperture of F2.8 was used, so we'll set a wider apertureof F2.0.)Depending on your camera, you may or may not be able to do one or more of the above.For example, most consumer digital cameras have a maximum aperture of F2.8, so wewould
not
be able to try the third option.What we are doing is telling the camera to ignore its light meter and allow the light toregister on the image sensor for a while longer. We want the histogram to shift right.
 
Check the new histogram produced and adjust again if the histogram indicates the pictureis still too dark.
Too Bright
 
Shutter Speed 1/56 sec. Aperture F3.2, +1EV, ISO 200
 On a bright sunny day, aim your camera at a landscape photo making sure to includemuch of the bright sky or areas bathed in bright lights or sunlight, as in the picture above.Here, I am exaggerating with a way overexposed shot (I used +1EV to force anoverexposure) to illustrate the point. Look at the histogram produced:At a glance, we can see that most of the pixels tend toward the highlight (H) side. Thepixels also touch the right edge, so we know that there are overexposed (
"too bright"
--thank you again, Goldilocks) areas in our picture. To obtain a correct exposure, we can doa couple of things, taking the above picture as example:
 
In Program AE mode, dial in a negative exposure compensation in -1/3EV steps.(For the above picture, we'll dial in -1EV since I gave it a +1EV to forceoverexposure.)
 
In Manual mode, dial in a faster shutter speed, while retaining the same aperture.(For the above picture, the shutter speed was 1/56 sec., so we'll dial in a fastershutter speed at 1/125 sec.)
 
In Manual mode, dial in a narrower aperture, while retaining the same shutterspeed. (For the above picture, the aperture used was F3.2, so we'll set a narroweraperture of F5.6.)

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