Tag Archives: histogram

How to Read Your Histogram Without Becoming a Math Nerd

The Histogram is a powerful tool to help you get proper exposure in any situation. It’s also an intimidating graph representing an awful lot of math. This free tutorial video will teach you the essentials for reading it without turning into a geek.

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Photo Tip Monday // 3 Histogram Tricks

3 Histogram TricksThe histogram is either a fantastic tool or a complicated piece of math-y stuff that you don’t really like. Here are three of my favorite tricks for taking this piece of data and making it work for me.

1. Use the Force

Your histogram is like The Force. It has a dark side, a light side and “it binds the galaxy together.” Well… at least it has a dark side and a light side.

3 Histogram TricksThe left side of your histogram represents black and the right side represents white. Be aware of large spikes on either side, but especially the white side. When part of a photo is too bright it will go completely white with no interesting texture or detail. This shows up on your histogram as a line or spike at the white end, and probably means that you need to adjust some things.

A histogram that looks like this likely means there’s a problem…

2. Bright and Dark Scenes

The histogram is most helpful in really bright or really dark environments. Say you’re out doing some urban landscape photography at night. You take your shot and look at it on your LCD screen. It looks fantastic! Later you pull it up on your computer only to discover that it’s way too dark. What happened? When you were out on the street, it looked great because everything around you was super dark, obscuring the fact that the photo was really underexposed. Instead, check out your histogram to make sure that you have data covering a whole range of brightness values, not just stacked up on the dark side.

This can also happen in bright situations where you may tend to overexpose your images if you base your exposure on your LCD preview. Remember to reference that histogram quickly to make sure that your image is not all stacked up on the light side.


3. Video Mode

I usually shoot in Manual exposure mode when I’m filming a video. This ensures that there won’t be dramatic shifts in brightness during my clips, even if I pan the camera to a new angle. To set my exposure properly, I use the histogram. I toggle through the different information displays to pull up a histogram, which is now live, changing as I adjust my camera settings. I dial in my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO until I have a good looking image on my LCD screen and double check that against the live histogram to make sure that I’m not being tricked by the brightness of the scene or losing information off the top or bottom of my shot.

3 Histogram Tricks


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