You might already know all about histograms, if you don’t it’s well worth getting your head around them because, well, they are pretty awesome. Unfortunately they are often overlooked, dismissed or misunderstood but they are very helpful especially when it comes to strobist photography.
A lot of people will tell you that a good photograph must have a nice even histogram, this is a blatant lie & you must immediately set fire to who ever told you that. What you should do is think of a histogram as a light meter for after you’ve taken the shot — a light meter on a cocaine fuelled acid trip with a dab of heroine and a touch of speed.
Anatomy of a histogram — from left to right the histogram will tell you about the dark, mid & light content in your photo, and from top to bottom it will tell you how many pixels in your image are affected in that area.
When I review a photo, I am probably more interested in what the histogram tells me than what the image preview is trying to show me. I am not looking for a good or bad histogram, there is no such thing, I am looking for one that matches the style of photo I am going for. So I have put together a few examples of histogram shapes and the type of photos they might match up with.
So the next time you go out with your camera, try checking your histogram out after you’ve taken shot, hopefully it will give you a little more insight into how your photo has been exposed.
To get to your histogram on most Canon cameras you press the Info or Display button & on most Nikon cameras you press the up or down button when previewing an image to cycle through the different views.
Stay tuned for my next post “How I Shoot: A Lowkey Portrait” due out on the 26th May 2010!