The Histogram

Hist0873Digital SLRs have a really cool feature that’s often overlooked by novice photographers, but is heavily-used by professionals. It’s the histogram, and it can tell you a lot about how well your image is exposed. I’ll be writing more about it soon.

This histogram came from Photoshop, but your camera should provide you with a similar though probably simpler display on the LCD.

Do you ever use the histogram? Do you know how it works? Have you even noticed that it’s there?


Filed under Introduction

5 responses to “The Histogram

  1. KL

    I’ve seen it, but I didn’t know what it was called and I’ve never used it.

  2. Tj

    Same here. I’ve seen it, but haven’t got a clue what it’s for.

  3. Erica

    teach us! okay, just read through the whole blog, and you have taught me a lot!

    My big issue right now is lighting…. I love taking pictures of my kids, but since they are kids, they dont sit still- so I need a fast shutter speed. Since we’re inside (we live in AK, its still gross spring here)- my camera wants a slow shutter speed to let more light in. If I use the on-camera flash, how does that work with my metering? Should I change anything to compensate? Also, my flash is so harsh that I cover it with a napkin to diffuse it… should I change anything to compensate for that? On my wish list, a flash that I can angle and bounce off the ceiling!

    You Rock!

  4. stopshootingauto

    Erica, flash is a great big can o’worms. It’s also something that I’m less than expert at– I generally prefer to use existing light whenever I can. Then again, I’m rarely shooting energetic younguns.

    Cameras have gotten pretty smart about how they work with flash. If your camera has an on-camera flash, then your meter should take it into account in aperture priority, shutter priority, and P modes. I honestly have no idea what it will do in manual mode, but I can experiment and figure it out.

    Using a napkin or a piece of cloth to diffuse your flash is an excellent idea. There are more professional solutions, such as the Sto-Fen Omni Bounce, but this is one of those places where you can improvise and save a lot of money. You may or may not have to use a little bit of flash compensation because the homemade diffuser will reduce the light a little bit. (Like I said, this isn’t my area of expertise.)

    My recommendation would be to find a friend who squirms a bit less than the average kid, bribe them to sit still for a couple of minutes, and take a few test shots using the lighting that you expect to be working in. (Alternately, you can use the kids and a roll of duct tape to keep them still, but getting a friend to help is probably a better idea.)

    Check out the shots to see if they’re correctly exposed or if they’re too dark, and if they’re too dark add a third or a half stop of flash exposure compensation and try again. I wouldn’t be surprised if the camera compensates for the diffuser automatically, but if not it shouldn’t take too much extra oomph to get a good exposure.

    As much as I hate to admit it, this is one of the situations where the camera will probably do a credible job without much help. Definitely keep diffusing the flash, though– that will make the light much more appealing.

    And if you want to learn a lot of really good stuff about lighting techniques, check out the Strobist blog at They focus on off-camera flash, but they have a wealth of information about general lighting techniques.

  5. Found your site today and already addicted :)

    I’ve found the histogram by accident a few times – I would LOVE to know more about it. (I have a Canon Rebel XT dSLR)

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