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Understanding the Histogram

Lesson 2 from: Perfect Exposures from Histogram through Lightroom

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

2. Understanding the Histogram

Lesson Info

Understanding the Histogram

If you look at my screen here, these air, all exposures and we want them all to look like as close to this is we can in camera, obviously. So when we photograph something, let's just say I'm gonna choose this one. This is a very challenging photograph. Because of sun. It was 120 degrees that day. It was so hot that day because it was in the middle of summer that this computer right here, my computer in the shade was crashing. It wouldn't function because of the fan. Couldn't bring any cold air. And it was just heating it back up. And so is just super super super hot. And the sun was barreling down. Oh, so bright that I could not see the LCD screen on my camera. You could not see it. You had to use one of those loop things. Those Goodman loops, which are very useful. If you don't have a hood men loop. Get one, because then when you're out bright sunlight like that, you can put it on and you can really focus in, and you can see actually, whether it's sharp, you can also see the exposure ...

a lot better because you're getting rid of all the ambient brightness around you. So But when we're when we're photographing something like this, we need to understand what we're getting so that when we come back into the light room, there's no surprises. So what we're going to do right now is we're gonna go through and talk about the history, Graham. And what I want to do is show you. I just went out and took pictures the other day because I knew I was teaching this class. And so I just went and took bracketed exposures and a lot of Brad. And I'm not trying to make an HDR here. I just want to show you the difference between hissed A grams. So the first thing I want to show you is this photograph, which is really quite beautiful, don't you think? Yeah. Yeah. So that is an extreme over exposure, But what I want you to see is this Over here. I want you to see on the right hand side the history rams. You're gonna pay attention to this history, ram, everywhere we go, um, noticed that there is no black in there at all. Right? on DSO. This is what it could. Extreme overexpose hissed. A gram looks like if I then exposed correctly for those clouds that are up in the sky, which you couldn't see right now. But if I look into the sky and I look at those clouds, this is what they look like. And that's a generally proper exposure for a bunch of clouds in a little bit of sky. If I go a little bit more on that, see how, when I go to more blue, you can see that big spike of blue. That's because light blue is right there. That is kind of Ah, light, light, light, light gray with a blue tint to it right? And so you're seeing that the hissed a gram is showing you. There's a pile of blue that is about this bright over here in the brighter areas of the photograph. If I then change my position, I photographed more clouds. Notice that the gray hump comes up because now that's neutral. So all of those colors air combining together to equal a neutral gray or a light light light gray, and it's piled up in the same place that the Blue Waas. But now we're not seeing a lot of blue. You can see over on the right hand side here just a little bit. There's a little sliver of blue happening over on the right hand side, and that's this little sliver of blue that showing on its own. But the rest of that pile of light or bright light gray or kind of darker white is showing up right here, and that's all neutral. Now there's some other colors in there as well. Yellows and greens and reds and all that kind of stuff. But it's all combined together into one photograph. So all colors are basically combination of three colors. Right? So you have your read your green in your blue, and they make all of that. If you put them all together equally, they will What? White. Okay, so that's what you're seeing when you see Gray in the history, Graham. Now you don't see it this way in your camera. Now, I'm gonna do something. I'm gonna go into the develop module right now because I want you to see something specific, um, in relationship to what we have in the light room versus what we have in a camera because they're different. Okay, so I'm going to turn on. What if you hit the J Key inside of light room? It turns on these highlight and shadow warnings. So let me go to an image that would have an over exposure like this one. If I go into the develop module, you can see all that red. That means that there is clipping there, all right, And you're going to see the same kind of clipping in your camera. We'll talk about setting those up in just a minute. But that clipping is a warning to you that this is gonna be no good to print. I could have told you that without the warnings, because obviously has blown out. But if I go to the clouds, you can see that there are no clippings. So clipping isn't happening in this photograph. And it's not happening in this photograph because we've exposed it perfectly. All right, now, if I go to um and l here, let me just show you this. Though exposing making a proper exposure in most cases is just about understanding the proper exposure for one known quantity in the old days. I used to do black, so you would look for a black shirt. So I'm a wedding photographer. So I so I'd focus on a black tux, and I would put the smarts, this Mott the spot meter on the black tux. And if I know what the exposure of black is supposed to be in order to get full detail in the black, all I have to do is get that exposure right and every other exposure within that same light error. That same lighting condition is gonna be exposed correctly because I understand what the exposure for black is supposed to be. So in the old days, you would take your camera and you would point that spot meter at the black shirt. Spot me to the black shirt, and it would your cameras going toe Want to make that black shirt. Gray camera doesn't know. It's supposed to be black. It just knows it's meter is trying to make everything 50% or neutral gray, right? In the old days, we said 18% gray, but now we say 50% Right? Writes in the middle middle gray. If I pointed at White, it wants to make it white. I mean, it makes the wants to make the white gray, so it's going to take light things and dark in them to be gray. It's going to take dark things and lighten them to be grey. That's what the cameras trying to do because it's trying to tell you I know how to make middle gray perfectly. That's what your camera knows how to do. And that's why you have to be involved in the thinking process. So, like if you're in shutter or aperture priority mode, it's not going to do everything perfect for you. You have to think along with it. And that's why you have the aperture or priority mode override, which is basically called your compensation dial. So you point it something, and if you're pointing at a white wall, it's going to try and make it gray. So you have to then over exposed by a couple stops to make it white. So you're telling the camera Hey, I know that's white. You think it's gray? I'm gonna tell you it's white by over exposing, and then it's gonna figure it out. All right, so we're gonna so I'm gonna give you these ideas and then we'll show you how it's done. So you have to be involved in the process of telling your camera what color or what what brightness or darkness is in front of it. What tone? All right, so in the old days I would look at black because if you under exposed black in film, it was clear film. And if you have clear film, there's nothing. There's no information so you could print all day long you could You could try and back it off his money and you always get black. It would just be flat black. Nothing no detail whatsoever. So you get a very bad print. But now days were in digital, everything reversed. So now what you're really, really looking for is white. You're looking at the white and making sure the white doesn't clip because of your white clips. Like in this picture here. That red warning right there is telling you that you're white has clipped. Therefore it's clear film. There's nothing. There was no detail. There's no information. You're done. Yes! Sorry, Teoh Back up little bit. Could you define clipping? I don't quite get that concept. OK, sorry about that. That's all right. So there are three colors red, green and blue, right? That's all that's being recorded on your camera chip. Right. So your sensors air seeing light out there, and they're sensing three colors come in, and so you have three different colors. And if you look on your if you look here on your, um on the back of your camera and you go into the info panel, you can actually see those three colors. So you see red, green and blue. Now, this one down here is just a combination of all of them showing you the total tonal range of what you have in this in this image. So red, green and blue, each one is coming in a different amount. So, for instance, if you have a bright red shirt, then there's going to be an area that's going to be a big pile of red right over here on the right hand side. But in our case, because we have a in this image here, you can see there's a big blue mountain so that blue mountain is dark. So where do you expect the darkest pile of blue to be. It's right there. See that? That's the mountain right there. That's that dark blue stuff. But we also have some light blue up here in the sky, and so that's up here. That little pile up there is sky, but the rest of it there's not a lot of blue in the photograph. There's green, though. Look at that. So there's a pile of green that's this dark green grass, and there's some little highlights of green as well. And that's like the yellow tips of the grass and stuff like that, like the pretty light coming through and filtering through. That's what that is. And then read, of course, is intermixed in tow all of these colors, because if all you had was green, that would be the ugliest grass you'd ever seen. You gotta have read in it. So that pile of red right there is actually what's making that green look palatable so that that red, if you ever. By the way, if you ever run into a ugly, ugly green grass on your photograph, just add red or magenta into it. It'll still look normal again because that's that's what makes grass look nice. Is the Reds. Okay, All right. So that is where we get all of our different colors. Clipping then, is if one of those colors goes beyond the right hand side of this. Hissed a gram. Basically meaning So you have between zero and 256. That's your So zero is black. Nothing and 256 is white. Nothing. Everything else in between is an acceptable tone. So somewhere in between there you want to get your reds in between those two edges right between zero and 256 tones, and then green is the same, and blue is the same. And what happens is if something is too bright. So it's got too much energy hitting the actual sensor on the chip. It's coming in and it hits it and it strikes and it's too bright. It's gonna spike beyond that 256 tones. And so it's gonna clip just like an audio ever heard, like a bad audio recording. And it goes like that. That's where it clipped. It went beyond the range or the latitude of the thing that's holding the file and it pops and it sounds ugly. Well, this just looks ugly instead of sounding ugly, right? And so each one has a point at which it will clip, and if it clips, then you lose the red. But the green and the blue can still stay there. They're fine. If all three of them clip, then you get a major problem. So we'll talk a little bit more about that when we're talking about trying to judge those exposures, but basically understand that you would be perfect. Exposure would be red, green and blue. Stay within the bounds of 0 to 256 and then where you put them depends on what the photograph is supposed to look like. All right, Okay. So that all right. Good. Yeah, just equipping. If you bring your camera back up and look at the bottom Instagram, We actually weren't able to see that your hand was in the way. I handled it on the way there. You see the white clipping of the very end. There we go. Yeah, so you can see a little bit of clipping right there. And that's those blinky lights right there. So you've got blinking lights here that tell me where? On the photograph I'm clipping and then here I see the clip. But what's clipping Is it Red, green or blue or all three? And that's what Over here on the left hand side, where the sun is, that's all three. But over here and over here, there might be a little bit of clipping in the blue, but I might actually have the red still or whatever. So so this is there's a problematic file that will talk about later. But as you look at these, you have to determine is that amount of clipping acceptable in this case? And we're gonna show you how to judge that in a minute. Yeah, I have found that sometimes when I see an image that clips on the camera that I bring it into a light room and there's no clipping in light room. My guess is that I'm looking at a J. Pig is very good or nice transition. Very good. Okay, so So let's talk about that. So what happens then? When we look at a file in the camera and we see that blinking lights first? Let's talk about setting those up so everybody should know that the best way to look at your photos is not like this. That isn't. You should see the composition through the viewfinder and take the picture. The composition is not to be looked at here. It's to be looked at in your actual eyepiece. This is not for judging composition or see if someone smiling or whatever this is to see the data. So we want to go into the info. And instead of just having the black and white version of this hissed a gram, we actually want to see all of them. So you have to go into your menu and somewhere in your menu. And I'm not gonna go to every menu option because this is a Canon five D Mark three and everybody else has a different camera. So what you need to do is look for the R. G. B hissed a gram option. Turn it on. Then you'll have access to the RGB hissed a gram because later on in our lessons here, you're gonna find how useful and important that thing is, right? It's important to be able to see all three channels happening in your camera. The other thing that you want to do is you want to go in and get thes highlight clipping warnings on. So in my camera it's called highlight warnings. So just look for something like highlight warnings. Highlight clippings highlight. That's what you're looking for. And it's going. You've got to turn it on in the menu. And once you've turned it on in the menu, then when you go to view it and on a night Khan, actually, you can cycle through with the I think it's the up and down on the thumb dial. You just kind of cycle through up and down, and that's how you get to those. So they're on, sometimes an off sometimes, whereas on a cannon you just turn it on. And if if the menu option is on than those always blink whenever you go into the info, or even when you're out here in the full view, you still see the clippings right, whereas on a Nikon it's you. You literally cycle through them, and sometimes they're on. Sometimes they're off, depending on what screen you're in. So and I don't know about Sony and all the other ones, but everybody has highlight clipping blinkers on turning on. You want to see that? However, in my case, I will show you this. If I go to my menus and I go Oops, sorry If I go to my menus and I go over to my favorites menu, I actually have my highlight alert enable and disable right there on my favorite menu. Because if I want to show the client a photograph and I know that I can deal with the clipping because I'm I'm using the clipping to my advantage. But I don't want the client to go. What's the blinking thing? I can quickly turn it off, show the client turn it back on and then keep shooting. So I want these highlights available to me as quickly as possible. Don't show the client the clipping, but you need to see the clipping, so just kind of be able to turn it on and off, Right? Okay, So make sure that those air on now the other thing that you should be aware of is that in your menu and everybody's menu is gonna be a little bit different. But I'm gonna show you in my menu. There's an LCD brightness option that is death because this is what destroys everybody who's not looking at their hissed a gram. So many people look at their photos in full screen. They're not looking at the history Graham, and they see this bright, beautiful image. And then they take it in the light room and it's dark like what the heck happened to my It's because you had your brightness all the way up here like this, and it was faking you into thinking that you had a big, bright Chris. Beautiful screen. You don't This is what it actually looked like. And so, in a dark theater, when I'm shooting, I've got all the way down to their so that I'm not showing like it's not Burr. It's not glowing every time I'm shooting right, so when you're in the darkness, you need to have it low so that you're not disturbing the people around you. But when you're out in the Phoenix, son, even that bright is hard to read because there's so much brightness around you. So that's when you got to get your Goodman and get in there close and actually block out all the other light so you can actually see what's on your screen. So this does not help you judge your imagery accurately. So I always try and keep it about four in the middle somewhere. But I never trust what the photograph looks like on my screen. I only trust the hissed a gram and the blinking lights. That's it. Everything else is completely untrustworthy in the camera. All right. Okay. So if I can teach you one thing today, never trust the screen. Never, never, never, never, never, never trust the screen Onley trust the hissed a gram.

Ratings and Reviews

Michael Griffith

Jared provides very clear, very specific suggestions on how to make the best use of your camera's histogram. The only suggestion that I have to improve the class would be for him to talk about the basics of the histogram first: what it is, what it shows, how it works. He gets there, but you have to wait for it. Overall, a useful class about an important photographic tool. Jared's photos do an excellent job of illustrating his points.

Fred Innamorato

Finally I found a class focused on understanding and explaining Exposure. With so many examples and visual aids, Jared does an excellent job of conveying his ideas and concepts. This class absolutely filled in the gaps of my understanding on how to correctly compensate the camera's exposure settings to achieve great pictures. He also is an awesome instructor. I rate the course 100%. Not an expensive course either.

fbuser 72f69990

Great class! Very clear and straight to the point. There is a lot of incorrect information related to histograms out there, but Jared explained perfectly! I recommend doing the assignment he suggests with your own images (third lesson), this really helped me to understand what my camera´s "proper exposure" is. A real game changer! Thanks!

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