How to Correct My Histogram

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kmeinhart, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. kmeinhart
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    kmeinhart New Member

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    So I know how to read & understand a Histogram, But what do you find is the best way to compensate for a skewed Histogram? For example when i see blown highlights, should I lower my exposure ( Example: Exposure Compensation on a Canon), If so I'll be underexposing my shot, but getting the detail in the highlights. At this point i usually just fix in post-processing.

    I usually shoot in Evaluative Metering Mode, would Spot Metering be more effective on my subject? But...At the same time you run the risk of the above example of blown highlights in another part of the shot.

    My Experience: The Other day I shot my wife in a white top against a bright blue background on a cloudy day. Her shirt is blown in the highlights, but i didn't want to underexpose the shot cause of the bright blue background. What would you have done? any Thoughts?
  2. SCraig
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    SCraig Well-Known Member

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    Meter for the highlights, post process for the shadows. Once highlights are gone they are gone. Shadow detail is usually there, just dark.

    In a high dynamic range situation you will always have to make a compromise or brackets the shot and use some HDR software to blend the exposures.
  3. KenC
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    KenC Well-Known Member

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    If a white shirt had blown highlights on a cloudy day, you definitely overexposed. The light on a cloudy day should be even enough that you will get plenty of detail in the darker areas.
  4. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    It's not necessarily an issue of metering or trying to fix the histogram...it's an issue of dynamic range. If the 'subject' of your photo is properly exposed, but the highlights are blown, then the dynamic range of the scene is probably greater than the dynamic range of your camera/medium.

    This has always been something that photographers have to deal with and it comes down to making choices. If you are presented with a scene that exceeds your camera's range, then you have to choose which parts you want to expose for, and thus, which parts will be lost to either shadows or highlights.

    Of course, you can process an image after the shot is recorded. So as mentioned, you might shoot so that you don't blow the highlights, then try to increase the brightness of the underexposed parts of the image. But beware that increasing brightness/exposure in post, will really bring out the digital noise, especially at higher ISO.

    There are other ways of dealing with this issue. One would be to use split/graduated filters. These would allow you to, for example, darken just the sky area of a scene, thus compressing the dynamic range of the scene (as the camera sees it).

    Another technique would be to take multiple exposures at different exposure values and combine them in post....HDR.
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  5. MReid
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    MReid New Member

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    In the example you raise, you have two choices.
    Use flash and set your exposure for the sky and use the flash to light her or,
    expose for her and her white shirt and let the sky go.
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  6. kmeinhart
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    kmeinhart New Member

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    Thanks everyone one for there responses. The HDR Suggestions peak my interest. I've tried HDR a few times before, with less than pleasing results. I just don't like the look of it, but maybe i'll try this again. I'm thinkg the best approach maybe what Mreid said about exposing for the background, but using a flash on the subject. Thanks again.
  7. Dominantly
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    Dominantly New Member

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    Good stuff posted here.

    My view is that people are waaaaaaay to concerned about not having any of their photo clipping. I think it's all relative to the subject and the type of photography you're into. You can look around and find natural light photographers who take some pretty damn good photos using natural light, exposing for their subject, and with creative placement make the shot work.
    In certain scenes you can just anticipate the right side of the histogram to be crowded- Like snow scenes, high key, shots with sun rays/ backlighting....

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