Use the His­togram to take con­trol of tone

The His­togram isn’t just for dec­o­ra­tion: it gives you tons of use­ful in­for­ma­tion. And in Light­room, you can even ma­nip­u­late it to achieve tonal bal­ance

Digital Camera World - - FUNDAMENTALS -

1 His­togram ex­am­ples

Here are five ex­am­ple shots show­ing a va­ri­ety of pho­to­graphic styles, from low-key to high-key, with their as­so­ci­ated his­tograms. Note that de­spite the range of his­tograms you can see, none of these pho­tos is tech­ni­cally un­der- or over­ex­posed. Any as­sess­ment you make of the tonal bal­ance us­ing the His­togram should be in tan­dem with your in­ten­tions for the im­age.

2 Us­ing the his­togram

Light­room’s His­togram is a bit un­usual com­pared with its coun­ter­parts in other im­age-ed­i­tors. Not only does it show you the tones, colours and clip­ping in the photo, you can drag over the var­i­ous parts of the His­togram to al­ter Blacks, Shad­ows, Ex­po­sure, High­lights and Whites. You’ll see the changes in the His­togram as you work with these con­trols. As you drag, the slid­ers con­nected to the five ar­eas will also move in the Ba­sic panel.

The His­togram, lo­cated on the top right of the De­velop mod­ule in Light­room, gives you a vis­ual graph of both tones and colours from out photo. The left-hand side shows the darker tones, and the right shows the brighter tones. The spread through­out the graph shows you the build-up of tone.

A large section to the left can in­di­cate a much darker im­age. It can of­ten be an in­di­ca­tor of an un­der­ex­posed photo, but could be cor­rect for a night sky or night cityscape shot. If it’s mostly to­wards the right, it can in­di­cate over­ex­po­sure – but it may also be a high key im­age, where the tones are in­ten­tion­ally lighter. Colours can be seen in the var­i­ous humps and spikes in the His­togram. A rich blue sky might show a blue hump. A stu­dio shot on a grey back­drop will have a cen­ter spike of white in the mid­dle. If the white bal­ance is off for the shot, you’ll see three grey spikes where there should be one.

It’s of­ten said that hav­ing a moun­tain in the mid­dle, stretch­ing the length of the his­togram, is de­sir­able. It’s a very broad gen­er­al­i­sa­tion, but it demon­strates that your tones should be even, with­out too much bunch­ing at ei­ther end.

By in­creas­ing Ex­po­sure by one stop, this grey area moves to the mid­dle.

In the orig­i­nal, the grad­u­ated back­drop can be seen as the grey block in the His­togram.

A low-key photo – most tones are in the darker re­gions, but it’s well-ex­posed for the sub­ject.

A nor­mal His­togram – with a good range of tones, and no clip­ping in the blacks or whites.

Sean McCor­mack Sean McCor­mack is a pho­tog­ra­pher and writer. He’s the au­thor of The In­dis­pens­able Guide to Light­room CC.

A high-key photo – most of the tones are lighter, but the sub­ject is well-ex­posed.

A dark-haired model on a white back­ground – the tones run from rich shadow to full white.

With Blacks set to -100, there’s clip­ping in the shad­ows, so some ad­just­ment is needed.

A photo shot with gelled light­ing – note how the colour peaks match the gel colours.

Open­ing Shad­ows to +100 in­stead nar­rows this band of grey.

With High­lights at -100, darker parts re­main un­touched, while lighter parts get dark­ened.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.