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Using the histogram to evaluate tones

From: Up and Running with Lightroom 5

Video: Using the histogram to evaluate tones

The histogram, which you'll find here in the Develop Module and in the Library Module, can help you to do two important things. It can help you evaluate a photo and, when you're working on a photo in the Develop Module, confirm what your adjustments are doing. So it's a good idea to keep the histogram open, particularly when you're adjusting total values in the Basic panel, as we'll be doing shortly. The histogram is a chart of the distribution and frequency of total values in a photo. The width of the chart represents black on the far left, through shades of gray in the middle, to white on the far right.

Using the histogram to evaluate tones

The histogram, which you'll find here in the Develop Module and in the Library Module, can help you to do two important things. It can help you evaluate a photo and, when you're working on a photo in the Develop Module, confirm what your adjustments are doing. So it's a good idea to keep the histogram open, particularly when you're adjusting total values in the Basic panel, as we'll be doing shortly. The histogram is a chart of the distribution and frequency of total values in a photo. The width of the chart represents black on the far left, through shades of gray in the middle, to white on the far right.

And under the chart, here is some useful information about the exposure settings with which you took a photo. An in Lightroom 5, you'll find a status indicator, indicating whether the photo is an original, an original plus a smart preview, or a missing photo. Now back to the histogram chart. The actual tones in the selected photo are represented by this mound inside the histogram. If you could pull this mound apart, you'd see that it consists of a vertical bar for each tone. The taller a bar, the more tones of that value there are in the photo. So in this case, the histogram is telling us that there's a full range of tones across the tonal range.

Including some dark tones, a full range of grey tones and some light tones. In many cases, but not all, a photo will look best with a full range of tones like this in it's histogram. But the shape of the histogram will be different for each photo. Let's take a look at another photo, which you can select down in the film strip, or by using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Now in this case the histogram reflects what we can see in the photo. That the photo is very dark and so the bars are clustered on the left, or dark side of the histogram. And we can see in the histogram that there are hardly any mid tones or bright tones in this photo.

That's okay because in this case we are looking at a low key tone photo of five In other cases, this may mean that a photo is underexposed. Let's take a look at another photo. I'll use the arrow keys on my keyboard a couple times, to go to this photo, which is a high key, or a light photo. And so the bars in the histogram are clustered over on the right side of the histogram. And let's go back to another photo. Now, when I look at this photo, I can see that it's rather flat-looking. But I may not know exactly what's wrong with it or how to fix it unless I look at the histogram.

And the histogram tells the story that most of the tones in this image are located in the center portion of the histogram, so they're mostly grays. There are no light tones, no bright whites and very few dark tones. So, if I wanted to give the photo more punch, I would focus on using the sliders in the Basic panel to make the darker tones darker, the brighter tones brighter. And that would extend the range of tones in the photo further across this histogram. By the way, each of the sliders that we'll work with in the Basic panel shortly, primarily affects a different area of the histogram.

An you can see which slider that is, by moving over the histogram. So if I hover over the center of this histogram, you can see right underneath the histogram the word exposure. And that means that the Exposure slider is going to affect this area of the histogram the most. If I move over here to the left you can see that label changes to blacks for the black slider. This area is controlled by the Shadow slider, over here by the Highlight slider, and here by the White slider. And you can see the same thing if you move down to the sliders. So if I hover over the Exposure slider, I see the label Exposure under the histogram and there's a slight overlay on top of the area most affected By the Exposure slider. Now the histogram will change as I move the sliders. It's a live preview.

So if I were to take the Exposure slider and drag it slightly over to the right, you can see those tall bars that were in the center of the histogram moving farther over to the right. And that's brightening up the entire photo. Of course, there's more that I would do this photo in the Basic panel. And we'll be taking a look at the other sliders here shortly. Now that you know the basics of reading a histogram, you can use the histogram on your own photos, in an informed manner, to evaluate where the photo may be lacking. And confirm the affect that your adjustments are having, as you're working on the photo here in the develop module.

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This video is part of

Image for Up and Running with Lightroom 5
Up and Running with Lightroom 5

40 video lessons · 19620 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
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  1. 5m 24s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 22s
  2. 30m 31s
    1. Understanding catalogs
      4m 21s
    2. Organizing your photos before importing
      3m 10s
    3. Deciding where to store your photos
      4m 28s
    4. Importing photos from a drive
      8m 14s
    5. Importing photos from a camera
      10m 18s
  3. 1h 15m
    1. Library module workspace
      7m 21s
    2. Viewing and sorting photos
      6m 16s
    3. Selecting photos
      7m 9s
    4. Reviewing and rating photos
      8m 41s
    5. Organizing with collections
      6m 27s
    6. Using Smart Collections
      6m 21s
    7. Keywording
      4m 51s
    8. Finding photos by keyword
      5m 40s
    9. Finding photos with the Metadata filter
      4m 53s
    10. Moving files and folders
      7m 16s
    11. Renaming photos
      4m 18s
    12. Working with Smart Previews when traveling
      6m 6s
  4. 54m 18s
    1. Develop module workspace
      6m 14s
    2. Cropping and straightening
      4m 25s
    3. Fixing perspective with Upright
      7m 19s
    4. Setting white balance
      4m 41s
    5. Using the histogram to evaluate tones
      4m 5s
    6. Adjusting tone and color in the Basic panel
      8m 45s
    7. Fine-tuning colors in the HSL panel
      3m 35s
    8. Converting to black and white
      3m 56s
    9. Using virtual copies
      3m 43s
    10. Reducing digital noise
      3m 24s
    11. Sharpening
      4m 11s
  5. 26m 21s
    1. Targeting edits with the Adjustment Brush
      6m 45s
    2. Spotlighting and vignetting with the Radial filter
      6m 0s
    3. Gradual editing with the Graduated filter
      4m 5s
    4. Removing dust spots with Spot Removal circles
      6m 12s
    5. Removing content with Spot Removal brushstrokes
      3m 19s
  6. 30m 40s
    1. Exporting photos
      9m 22s
    2. Setting up a connection to Facebook
      6m 22s
    3. Sharing photos to Facebook
      5m 44s
    4. Printing photos
      9m 12s
  7. 26s
    1. Next steps
      26s

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