Do you have a digital camera with a histogram function? If you're like me, when I
first started out in digital photography, I checked it out for a bit, then never used it
again after that.
Not a very smart thing - the camera histogram is a really useful tool which you
can use to avoid exposure issues.
This article will show you how you can make better use of that histogram. You
will learn what exactly is the histogram and what it looks like for a well shot
photo, an underexposed photo, as well as an overexposed photo.
Once you master
the histogram function, you will have one more tool in your arsenal to improve
the Histogram Function
Most of the better digital cameras in the market
today have a histogram function. My
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20, for
example, has a nice histogram that is overlaid on the picture within the LCD.
The better cameras allow you to preview the scene with the histogram overlaid,
before you click the shutter release.
But what exactly is a histogram, you ask? Well, a histogram is a graph that
displays how light is distributed in your picture. The left side of the graph
represents the shadows, while the highlights are on the right.
In layman terms, that means that if the histogram has a high peak on the left,
you can tell that a lot of pixels in the picture are dark, or in shadow. A peak
on the right of the graph means that a lot of pixels are bright, or in
highlights. Peaks in the middle of the graph represent pixels in the midtones of
The Histogram of
a Good Photo
Right, now let's look at
some examples of histograms. Refer to the picture below. On both the left side
and the right side of the graph, you can see that there are no high peaks. This
kind of histogram tells you that no part of the scene is over or underexposed.
In other words, this shot should look good.
histogram of a good photo
The Histogram of
an Underexposed Photo
Ok, now let's look at the
histogram of an underexposed photo. You can see a spike in the shadows that
starts with a peak on the left of the graph. That means that the picture has
lost data in the shadows. There's also just a few pixels trailing off the right
side of the graph, so a tiny bit of data might have been lost there as well.
histogram of a underexposed photo
The Histogram of
an Overexposed Photo
You can probably guess how
an overexposed photo looks. Here you can see a pronounced spike on the right
side of the graph. Do note that the height of the peaks is somewhat low in this
picture; that's not an indication of under or overexposure. All you need to
worry about is whether they breach the left or right edges of the histogram.
histogram of a overexposed photo
I hope this article has given you some insight into how the histogram function
of your camera works. When composing your photo, always try to avoid the
histogram from spiking at either extreme end of the graph, where you'll lose
data and have under- or overexposed parts of your picture. Learn to apply the
above tips, use the and soon you'll be taking better pictures!
to Take Beautiful Photos
If you want to
improve your digital photography skills, you may want to take a look at Digital Photography Success. This ebook
package comes with step-by-step instructions on how to take pictures of beautiful landscapes, people, nature, fireworks, night scenes, etc. Learn how to shoot professional photos - just like those you see in glossy magazine covers.
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