Histogram

ceejtank

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Does anyone have a picture of what a properly exposed histogram should look like on the back of a camera after a picture is taken? I need some more help in reading mine.
 

480sparky

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There is no 'perfect' histogram.

Ideally, however, all the peaks should be withing the left and right sides. If there's a 'high' peaks right at either end, that means part of the image is over/under exposed. In other words, the histogram should be near the bottom as it reaches the ends.
 

Overread

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There is no "shape" to a perfect histogram - in fact generally its impossible to shoot to make it conform to a specific shape. There is however info you can read from it.

1) The far left side is full underexposure, that is full black with no detail captured. Clearly in most shots you don't want the bulk of your histogram to be pure black (unless you are, of course, shooting a very black scene). Most normal photos will have pure blacks in them and typically the blacks are not much to worry about.

2) The far right is full overexposure, that is white with no detail captured; these are typically more concern for the photographer to the point where most histograms will show a view of the photo as well beside it, where the areas that have fully overexposed will blink on and off (like sparky's avatar!). This lets you see not just how much has overexposed, but also where it is. If its a few tiny highlight spots its nothing to worry about; if its half the scene or critical areas then you've got to re-shoot.

3) The lump - the lump does not have to, strictly speaking, be anywhere, but there are two base theories for its positioning that I'm aware of;

a) Expose to the right - this method is where you expose the shot as best you can, so that the main lump of the exposure is located as far on the right side of the graph as possible without overexposing the photo. This affords the camera the most light data captured from the scene, which means less noise overall and more data to work with in editing. The view here is that you will be editing the result and might well pull the curb back as you adjust to get the look you want.
One has to remember that many constraints might well prevent you from using this theory perfectly, but its an "ideal" method to shoot in mind with for when you get the option.

b) Expose "correctly" - correctly being very subjective to the scene, but this approach is basically exposing the scene as you want it to look without taking into account the expose to the right theory above. It's the typical approach of many

4) The lines - most histograms have vertical lines along the chart, the distance between two lines is a full stop in exposure terms (eg one stop of ISO, or of aperture or of shutter speed). This helps if you need to adjust the exposure as you can see roughly how much or how little you need to adjust the exposure by to change the position of the curve to where you want it.
 

2WheelPhoto

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OP that was a great question too
bigthumb.gif
 

TCampbell

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The main thing is that at the extreme left and right sides of the histogram, the graph should not be "climbing the walls".

If you take a "low key" shot, then the bulk of the histogram will be over on the left side. If you take a "high key" shot, then the bulk will be over on the right. So there's no rule that says it has to be in the middle. (Google "low key" and "high key" -- one at a time -- and put Google into "image" search mode. You'll get TONS of examples of what's meant by those terms.)
 
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ceejtank

ceejtank

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I have a great question about once a year.. usually the questions are like "HELP CAMERA NOT TAKING PHOTOS!!!" then are followed up with "... forgot to take off lens cap... smh"

haha

OP that was a great question too
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