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What Is A Histogram?


If you don't already know, every modern camera has a histogram, and you must at least know how to read the graph and learn 1 important function of the histogram. Because this function is also as important as your aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

What Is A Histogram?

In photography, a histogram is a graph showing the distribution of light in an image. Most cameras are capable of displaying a histogram for each image stored on the camera’s memory card.

In short - Histogram allows you to take better photos by exposing properly.

In today's bite sized post, let's just understand 1 important function of histogram.

To expose your photo correctly, just make sure both extreme ends (shadows and highlights) do not clip. If you see them clipping, that means either side will have some details lost.

Here are 3 classic examples on how over exposed, under exposed, and properly exposed photo and their histogram respectively.

Over exposed: Right side of the graph clipped, meaning there are highlight details lost and you will not be able to recover them in post processing.


Under exposed: Left side of the graph clipped, meaning many shadow details lost and you will not be able to recover them in post processing.


Properly exposed: No clipping on both sides, meaning your highlight and shadow details are retained, and you can recover them in post processing.

1 Important function of Histogram

Exposing to the right is beneficial because the further to the right you go, the more distinct tonal values there are. This produces a wider dynamic range. Dynamic range is the camera’s ability to capture both dark and light regions of the scene and everything in between.

Pro-tip: It is generally easier to recover shadow details than highlight details in modern cameras, hence you can consider shooting 1 to 1.5 stop underexposed and recover the shadow details in post processing (usually applicable when your sky is very bright). This is a simple trick photographers use to create a high dynamic photograph. But do make sure your shadows do not clip on the left side of the histogram graph.

There are three ways you can adjust your exposure (Exposure Triangle). Play around with your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. For more advanced technique, you may also consider using neutral density filters, CPL filters and graduated ND filters, especially when you are shooting at super bright day and you still want to shoot at f1.2 aperture without overexposing your photo. You may also add an off camera flash to fill your subject if the highlights and shadows are too wide apart.

So, that's all for today's bite size blog. If you learned something about Histogram, do follow our Facebook for more tips!


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