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YOUR FRIEND – HISTOGRAM

The topic of discussion of the histogram is extensive and time-consuming. But, if you approach the issue creatively, by slightly “closing your eyes” to technical details, you can explain in a few words what a histogram is, why you need to be able to read and understand the histogram, because this is a very useful tool that many modern cameras offer their users, to help get quick information about the tonal range that is present in any image.

The histogram shows the distribution of image tones from black (left) to white (right). The higher the peaks in the graph, the more the shade to which they correspond. For example, histograms with a large number of dark pixels will be skewed to the left, those with more light tones will be tilted to the right.

Even the largest LCD camera display is actually not large enough to give the photographer excellent visibility and completeness. Quite often it happens that when viewing a photograph on a large monitor, tonal skew is detected in one direction or another. Checking the histogram can help correct the situation while you are in a position where you can make changes to the camera settings and take another shot. For example, when shooting on a white background (we recently wrote about how to get a picture of an object / model on a pure white background http://fotogora.ru/?page_id=4142) it is important that the entire background is uniformly illuminated, then as a result It will be even and bright.

To make the background look white, it needs to be well lit. This can be achieved by sending an additional light source to the studio background, or rather two. If the subject is dark, it will be enough to illuminate the background 1 step more, and if the subject is light, it is advisable to illuminate the background 1.5-2 steps better than what is standing on it.

Let’s look at how the histogram works on examples
overexposure on the histogram

Compare two pictures and their corresponding histograms. In the first photo you can see a lot of bright colors. As a result, the peak is reflected in the histogram in the place of the photo where the shades are darker. The overall picture shows that the photo is overexposed. On a correctly exposed image, the histogram graph will be smoother – from dark to light, without sharp “candles” and “dips”.

The second example clearly shows that as a result of the fact that the clothes on the models are dark, many parts of the image are underexposed – this is also reflected in the histogram. The graph is shifted to the left side.

Which question from all this may arise? Is there a so-called good histogram?

Since most aspects of photography are based on the rule “beauty in the eye of the beholder”, and since there is a lot of room for the person’s preferences in this type of creativity, as well as the presence of different ways of expressing the photographer, the “perfect histogram drawing” cannot exist in nature by definition.

If the photographer is interested in shooting silhouettes, then the histogram will have “peaks” in the dark and light parts. A shot of someone in white snow will obviously give a histogram with significant peaks on the right side. Histograms of various objects and photographic styles will give different results.

But in most cases, photographers tend to get fairly balanced shots with a beautiful tone distribution, correctly exposed. With this option, the distribution will be as follows – the peak is approximately in the middle of the histogram, from which the sides diverge to nothing.

So, now you are generally familiar with the concept of what a histogram is. This is a simple tool that gives the photographer more information about the image and helps to get the effect that the creative soul seeks. That is why everyone who is just starting to master this or that type of shooting will not hurt to get acquainted with the histograms of pictures that are liked by light, shadow, tone distribution and shade overflow. Understanding how your “perfect histogram” looks personally will ultimately lead to the ability to reproduce it in your photographs.

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