A histogram is an extremely useful tool when shooting digitally. You’ve probably seen it somewhere on your camera but never realized what it was.  It is a graph correlated with an image showing the amount of light and darkness (aka your exposure.)  It is great because it can give you instant feedback as to whether you need to adjust your setting to let in more light or less light, or to show you that you nailed a “just right” exposure.

Let’s start with how to read a basic diagram of a histogram:

So, an image with too many bars to the right would be overexposed and an image with too many bars to the left would be underexposed.  BUT, when you have a clustering of bars spread out over the entire diagram, or more towards the middle, you have a balanced exposure.  (By the way- the histogram above represents a properly exposed image which you will see below.)

Here are some examples:

First, an overexposed image histogram-

As you can see, the bars are favoring the right side of the histogram, showing that this image is overexposed.

Next, an underexposed image histogram-

As you can see the bars are now favoring the left side of the histogram, showing the image is underexposed.

And finally, a properly exposed image.

This shows an even disbursement of the bars across the histogram.  Now we have proper exposure.  🙂

So here is your homework- Look in your manual (if you need to) and figure out how to view your in-camera histogram.  Shooting in manual, create an image that demonstrates a balanced exposure.  IF you have the capability (with another camera) shoot a photo of your in-camera histogram reading and post it with your evenly exposed image.  (HINT- Avoid using flash to take a photo of your camera’s histogram.  The light will create a glare making it hard to read.)


One response to “Histograms

  1. I LOVE this site. It is great! I love how it covers everything I have been wondering about! Keep up the awesome work!!! Thanks again!

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