How to Use the Histogram in Photoshop

How to Use the Histogram in Photoshop

How to Use the Histogram in Photoshop

The histogram is an extremely important reference, both in shooting and post-processing. In shooting it gives us a far more accurate readout of the distribution of light in our images, than previewing the images on the LCD screen on our camera.

We can immediately know if our exposures have any clipped areas, just by a quick glance at the histogram. Once, when shooting in China at blue hour, I’d captured a few exposures and was reviewing the brightest one to make sure the shadows weren’t under exposed.

Next to me was a group of Asian photographers being led by a photography expert. I think he wanted to look good to the photographers he was with, so he decided to give me shooting advice. The first thing he said, when looking at the brightest exposure, was that the shadows were clipped. I thanked him politely and said I was fine without advice.

Not wanting to lose face, he became more adamant. At that moment, an absolutely incredible scene was unfolding and I had no time to be distracted. I politely told him to go away. He eventually left, telling me I hadn’t exposed for the scene correctly. The mistake he made, apart from not capturing this incredible scene himself, and trying to give me advice, was that he was relying purely on the preview on my LCD and didn’t ask to see the histogram. The moral of the story, always trust the histogram.

Thank you to Phlearn for this awesome tutorial, showing us what a histogram is and how to use it.

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How to Use the Histogram in Photoshop

8 thoughts on “How to Use the Histogram in Photoshop

  1. What value does the words “Next to me was a group of Asian photographers” add to this particular story?

      1. You can mention whatever you want Jimmy. Let me ask you this, if they were a group of white photographers next to you – would you have said so? If not, why not?

        – Keep Up the Great Work!

        1. ‘White’? No, I certainly wouldn’t say white. I would say ‘European’ or ‘French’ if I knew their nationality, but not ‘white’. I’m sorry but I thought ‘Asian’ was an acceptable term. Could you give me a better word?

          1. Ok, fair enough! I just don’t really see the need to identify what nationality is near you because it adds nothing to the story – take care my friend!

  2. Good one Jimmy! Thank you! By the way i would have mentioned “asian” as well – because there is nothing wrong with it. And yes it might not be politically correct. Well but i don’t care….

  3. Jimmy,whether you should or should not have pointed out their ethnicity is a non issue with me.What I’m curious about is why anyone felt the need to point this out.:)

  4. One correction- When shooting in RAW, the camera’s histogram does NOT accurately represent the image’s information, so pixels may appear clipped that are, in fact, not. This is important when practicing ETTR (expose to the right).

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