Using the Histogram on your Camera to get Better Photos
Now that I’ve improved my photography and editing skills I’m going through photographs from past years vacation and reworking them in Photoshop. This time I’m using the histogram to set optimum exposure and getting much better prints. So here is a good example of editing a photo in Photoshop using the histogram, if you remember I took a trip to Block Island, Rhode Island and have hundreds of photos I absolutely love. Too bad I wasn’t shooting RAW then.
First I straightened the image about 2 degrees clockwise. I was a little off kilter taking the picture. The swimmers in the water were bothering me, so I cloned them out.
I’ve learned I cannot rely on my computer screen when it comes to the light balance in a photo. My computer screen is pretty bright and as a result I always misjudge the exposure in my edited photos. The best best is to use the histogram. The same is true when you take photos on your digital camera. Don’t rely on your camera LCD screen, especially during the summer. Use your histogram tool.
As you can see in the initial histogram below, the histogram is pushed to the darkside (left). In the levels adjustment tool I used the far right prompt and brought it to the edge of the curve to brighten up the whole photo. Much better.
Even with my Canon Rebel camera and exposing to the right, I still throw my exposure off, but I am getting better. Although I try not to chimp (constantly look at the camera screen after each shot) I will occasionally check the histogram in camera to make sure I’m not clipping my blacks or whites. As you can see int he photo above the left side of the graph is barely touching, so I didn’t lose very much information in the dark regions.
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If you shoot in RAW then you can recover a lot of digital information in the lights and darks. But I prefer to get a photo properly exposed in the camera as best that I can to eliminate major digital darkroom edits.
Any of the below programs have a histogram function in the editing mode. If you are a beginner then Photoshop Elements is where I would start. That will give you the biggest flexibility as far as text, layers, cloning and photo manipulation. If you just want to edit your photos and not get really creative with layers then Lightroom is the way to go, I LOVE Lightroom. Many people choose to subscribe to the Adobe Cloud for the $10/month you have full usage of both Photoshop and Lightroom and never have to worry about outdated software.
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How to Use the Histogram to Get Better Photographs