Clas­sic his­togram shapes

Here are some for­ma­tions you can ex­pect to see of­ten, and what you can do about them

Digital Camera World - - CAMERA COLLEGE -

Un­der­ex­posed 1

In this ex­am­ple, the his­togram is po­si­tioned to­wards the cen­tre and the left (dark) side of the graph – but with a pale sub­ject, the his­togram should be to­wards the (right) side of the graph. To fix this, use pos­i­tive ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion or al­ter the aper­ture, shut­ter speed and/or ISO when shoot­ing in Man­ual mode. (See the op­po­site page for more de­tails.)

Low con­trast 3

The his­togram reaches nei­ther end of the scale and is humped to­wards the cen­tre of the graph. If you shoot raw files rather than JPEGs, you could try ‘ex­pos­ing to the right’ to push the his­togram fur­ther to the right-hand side, and then re­duce the ex­po­sure to nor­mal when you process the im­age. The rea­son for do­ing this is that more pic­ture de­tail is recorded in the right of the graph.

Over­ex­posed 2

With a dark sub­ject, the his­togram should be weighted to the left, but here it’s pushed be­yond the right side of the graph. As we saw last is­sue, cam­eras can over­ex­pose dark sub­jects and make them look too bright, but you can re­turn things to nor­mal by di­alling in neg­a­tive ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion or chang­ing the ex­po­sure set­tings in Man­ual mode.

High con­trast 4

A high-con­trast im­age will show a his­togram that peaks at each end. Land­scapes are a clas­sic high-con­trast sub­ject. In ex­treme ex­am­ples, such as this back­lit shot of a tree, the his­togram is pushed off each side of the graph. To re­duce the con­trast, you could use flash to light the sub­ject, or take a se­quence of shots at dif­fer­ent ex­po­sure and blend the im­ages later in your edit­ing soft­ware.

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