If you want to know more, hit me up in the Comments section at the end of the article, and we can nerd-out a bit! If the numbers were critical to translating the data, the graphs would have numbers labeling them. White balance is applied to JPEGs, and thus the histogram is affected by the white balance, which may result in a false clipping indication in the highlights. The x-axis will tell you the ranges into which the data have been grouped. You may also need to turn on this feature in the menu settings. The left half of the graph represents the darks with the darkest being far left. You may be able to email your camera manufacturer and see if they will put you in touch with the sensor engineers or software folks. Reading your camera's histogram: The histogram probably pops up often but you just don't know what it is or how to read it. Thanks, Jhim! If your camera has histograms for the red, green and blue channels, they can be useful, too. It is usually easier to recover some shadow detail and retain a decent image than to try and create highlight detail that isn’t in the file. The histogram shows you your exposure in a graphical way and tells you how much of the scene your camera is recording and how much is being lost. Or get both, no charge! Peaks in the histogram show you whether the digital photo is predominantly dark, light or somewhere in the middle. Understanding the luminance histogram better has been a huge benefit. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions! Opposite of this, take a long exposure on a sunny day and you will achieve a spike on the right. Sometimes, depending on the scene and your camera’s dynamic range, there will not be a practical remedy to the clipping; however, if you can adjust your exposure to avoid clipping, by all means, do so. If your expectations match the indications of the RGB histogram shapes, then the camera lens sees what you see and the picture will be an accurate capture. You can view the histogram of an image in a camera as well as on a computer. There are almost infinite combinations of light and dark that will register on the histogram. In an ideal world, the graph should just touch the left and right edges of the histogram, and not spill up the sides. Many of today’s digital cameras will have a flashing highlight indicator, or “blinkies” function that causes the blown-out light and/or dark regions of a previewed photo to blink so that the photographer can see, without the histogram, that areas are lost to black or white. In order to make sure you’re shooting with a correct exposure, use the histogram feature within the camera. You just need to adjust your exposure to get the effect you want. But keep in mind that the histogram … Pay attention to the RGB histograms because you might see color clipping in one or more channels while the luminance histogram shows no clipping. My $0.02...the most important histogram is the luminance one. It also toggles between the histograms for raw and JPEG, so you'll be able to see just how "similar" they are. Also, remember, the histogram is a guide...if we were meant to give it a scientific analysis, our LCD screens would impose grid lines over the histogram, or allow us to zoom in on it. The answer is: the histogram. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! Thanks for unfogging my head. Underexposing in the digital world usually isn't the worst thing in the world as a lot of detail can be pulled out of the darker areas of the image. Many scenes might not have pure white or pure black areas and that is just fine. I think there is a simple answer, so here it goes! Now, take all this 3 pictures and superimpose (stack on top of each other) so that all pixels diffuse completely, you'll should the picture that is exactly the same as if you've taken the picture using white light bulb in the first place. The RGB is secondary. This “hidden” clipping might be a big deal for your image, depending on your photographic vision for the picture. The camera says, “By exposing for the major portion of the image, I have created an area of the photo so dark that I cannot see anything there, so I am going to call it pure black.” Spikes touching the right edge are representative of the camera saying the opposite, “When I expose for the major portion of the image, this one region is so bright that I cannot tell if there is an object in that region, so I will call it pure white.”. A histogram is a bar chart that shows you whether a photographs exposure is good or bad. When I do this am I creating data or is the raw converter able to see image data that the histogram on the camera could not see? The number of pixels representing each tone is viewed on the vertical axis. And how do you read it? Where can you find it? The histogram is a graphic representation of the tonal range in a photograph, and its analysis of the image's tonal range provides a precise check on exposure. Don't over think too much. The camera will, unless you are manually controlling exposure, try its hardest to create an image that is exposed for the widest possible range of lights and darks in a scene. Therefore, you cannot really evaluate exposure on a preview. Many brands offer the option to visualize both the luminosity and color histograms, as well as a clipping highlight that will let you know which areas of your image are not properly exposed. It is llike I am now armed and dangerous. The semantic difference is that a high key image may appear overexposed, depending on your subject and artistic vision. Reading the camera histogram is an important skill to learn as it gives you complete control over exposure. One thing I cannot work out is that when I  preview my images , for some reason the blue (B) off the RGB keeps blinking and I not sure how I can fix this problem on camera. Extremely bright days like this make checking the histogram especially necessary — even reviewing the image on the camera display to check the composition can be difficult in full sunlight. The camera histogram tells you whether your photo is underexposed, or overexposed, how much contrast it has and whether there are any overexposed highlights. Judging the histogram for proper exposure content is a three-way conversation: you (what you want), your camera’s histogram, the subject’s tonal values. You can view the histogram on your camera’s LCD screen after you have taken the shot. When you pull shadow detail out of an image you are technically brightening the non-clipped regions of the photograph. Toggle J, and you can switch between the JPEG preview and the raw. Hi Todd, Simple explanation to what I thought was a complex subject. If you are taking photos of a scene with dark shadows or bright sunlight, you need to expect to see this on the histogram and you should not be surprised when the spikes appear on the right or left edge. So, yes one can derive white histogram from the RGB histogram components. Thanks for reading and writing in! 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A colour histogram adds a little complexity to reading the graph, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll easily be able to understand it. Also, how would this be corrected ( if even desirable)? Not every dark area is actually pure black...the camera has many different shades of dark gray that it is capturing on its way to black. The left side of a histogram represents the blacks and shadows of an image. After choosing this option you will see a graph on your screen. It seems that various individual red (or green or blue) values may vary but when the red, green and blue integer values are similar the pixel falls on the left side of the color histogram. This hs been the most informative article that I've seen on this subject. Two questions. It will show you different peaks according to the light exposed. Thanks for that! I bet they are close, but not carbon copies. You explained the consequences of touching the left or right edges of the histogram, but what does it mean when a spike hits the roof? A low key image with lots of dark and shadow areas will produce a histogram graph that is mostly center and left of center. Here is the same shot, as it was taken, which shows a low-key exposure. In summary, the histogram is a remarkable tool to have in your tool box and one of many gifts that digital photography has bestowed on photographers of all skill levels. Standing by for follow-ups! If you take a night photograph of a building and half of your image is a sky as black as a raven’s wing at midnight, you should expect to see a large spike on the left edge of your histogram. Regarding your last question, I do not know how you would determine a black on the horizontal of a color histogram. 1) General Understanding. Each tone from 0-255 (0 being black and 255 being white) is one pixel wide on the graph, so imagine the histogram as a bar graph all squished together with no spaces between each bar. You will not get mid-tone "clipping" in an image. 1. Awesome! We can tell that an image is well-exposed if it reaches fully from edge to edge without a gap on one side of the graph, and it isn’t heavily going up one side or the other. 2. Is there a way to use the red, green and blue integer values to determine you have a "black" on the horizontal of the color histogram? You need to select the image and click the info button to view the RGB histogram and the luminance histogram. The primary one is the luminosity histogram that shows overall brightness of a scene. Thank you very much for the very clear, helpful article. You generally will not see those on a raw file. Your own eyes will have the ability to see into the shadows while not getting blinded by the lights. A spike touching the left edge of the histogram means that there is shadow clipping. The histogram is a graph on your LCD showing the distribution of each primary color’s brightness level in the image (RGB or red, green, and blue). The left side of the histogram represents dark tones, the … Also, you might be viewing your images in bright sunlight or in the pitch black of night. The image that goes along with this histogram is … I would imagine there is, because there has to be a way for the computer to calculate and display the information, but I do not know it. These histograms are generally displayed in their respective color. Of course, you can always leave well enough alone and move to your next great image and accept the shadows or highlights. If it is a dark area that is barely red, blue, or green, it should register on the left. I have often wondered about the value of viewing and evaluating jpg images when the RAW image is what I'm going to use. 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