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Reading a histogram

From: Up and Running with Photoshop CS6

Video: Reading a histogram

Whenever I do Color Correction, I like to use a reference chart called a histogram to help me while I'm working. Let me show you what that looks like. I'm going to go to the Layers panel. I'm going to create a Levels Adjustment layer. And as part of the levels, Color Correction effect, they also give us this great little histogram, this readout, about what's going on with the brightness and midtones and shadows, in our image. And here's the way that this works. And and trust me, I know this is a little complicated but once you master what this histogram is telling you, you'll be a much better image editor because of it. So, basically the Shadows are on the left, Midtones are in the middle, and the Highlights are on the right.

Reading a histogram

Whenever I do Color Correction, I like to use a reference chart called a histogram to help me while I'm working. Let me show you what that looks like. I'm going to go to the Layers panel. I'm going to create a Levels Adjustment layer. And as part of the levels, Color Correction effect, they also give us this great little histogram, this readout, about what's going on with the brightness and midtones and shadows, in our image. And here's the way that this works. And and trust me, I know this is a little complicated but once you master what this histogram is telling you, you'll be a much better image editor because of it. So, basically the Shadows are on the left, Midtones are in the middle, and the Highlights are on the right.

Now, what it's doing as far as the height of this graph, is it's showing us how much of that particular tone is there. So, right now on the left here, we have Pure Shadows, and there's no graph here. There's nothing here. So, we don't have any real pure black. Same thing on the right side here, we don't have any highlights. We have a little gap here, and that indicates that there's really no highlights. There's no pure white. And so, we also can look at this image and say, well, there's a lot of dark shadowy areas here, and that's actually what's mostly in the image. And we have some dark midtones.

Well, we really don't have that many bright midtones and, and bright highlights here. We have a few little spots and I'm sure that that's coming from these little highlights in the back there. But what we can do to bring these up is to Click and Drag these little arrows in and that makes this point which was once just dark gray, that forces that to be pure black. We can do the same thing on the right here, this kind of bright gray. We can drag this triangle in and that makes that bright gray here turn into pure white.

Now, if we were to keep going here, watch these little highlights, watch these little circles in the background as I do this. As I drag to the left, all of these just kind of become pure white, because what we're doing here is we're taking all of these highlights and we're crushing them all to white. And that just kind of flattens the image and loses all this detail. So, in most cases, you don't want to do that. So, that's why I always stop, typically, right when the whites start right here. And same thing with the shadow areas. We have some, a little bit of background shadow detail here, but if we were to keep pushing this, overall, the image looks pretty cool, but we've lot a lot of detail in the shadows.

So, typically, I don't like to do that. We can adjust the black point here at the left slider, the white point with the right slider, and then we can adjust the midtones with the middle slider here. So, you'll notice that as I'm adjusting the midtones, basically, the overall colors of the image here, that the highlights are staying put. We're not really playing with the highlights all too much. If you look at this little bright point right there, its not changing all that much. Same thing with the shadows, it's, they'e not really changing that, all that much either, we're just changing what's in between and that's a really powerful way to edit an image. Now, the histogram is not updating as we're changing and that's kind of a good thing.

It's telling us what our original color scheme looked like. So basically, the point is is that histograms are a way for you to know what's going on in your image. You might look at this and say, oh, it's a great balance of highlights and shadows. But a histogram might tell us a different story, it really tells us the truth about what's going on.

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This video is part of

Image for Up and Running with Photoshop CS6
Up and Running with Photoshop CS6

43 video lessons · 11273 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
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  1. 1m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 59s
  2. 3m 7s
    1. Overview
      3m 7s
  3. 19m 26s
    1. Importing images from a camera
      4m 3s
    2. Using Adobe Bridge
      7m 10s
    3. Using Camera Raw
      5m 57s
    4. Opening images in Photoshop
      2m 16s
  4. 45m 18s
    1. Creating new documents
      3m 43s
    2. Interface overview
      5m 43s
    3. Navigating documents
      4m 58s
    4. Working with layers
      9m 33s
    5. Straightening images
      3m 15s
    6. Cropping images
      3m 54s
    7. Performing basic transformations
      5m 45s
    8. Moving and aligning objects
      8m 27s
  5. 8m 36s
    1. Understanding pixels
      2m 19s
    2. Understanding resolution
      4m 32s
    3. Saving your work
      1m 45s
  6. 23m 33s
    1. Understanding color modes
      3m 55s
    2. Using adjustment layers
      3m 35s
    3. Fixing problems automatically
      2m 36s
    4. Reading a histogram
      3m 40s
    5. Adjusting exposure (brightness)
      4m 27s
    6. Adjusting colors selectively
      5m 20s
  7. 31m 4s
    1. Intro to selecting
      4m 47s
    2. Making quick selections
      6m 45s
    3. Refining selections
      8m 26s
    4. Making a collage
      11m 6s
  8. 11m 46s
    1. Removing small problems
      2m 4s
    2. Fixing bigger problems
      6m 39s
    3. Intelligently scaling an object
      3m 3s
  9. 12m 33s
    1. Creating Smart Objects
      5m 13s
    2. Applying effects
      5m 1s
    3. Adjusting applied effects
      2m 19s
  10. 26m 30s
    1. Creating text
      5m 47s
    2. Editing text
      8m 30s
    3. Using layer styles
      5m 54s
    4. Creating graphic design elements
      6m 19s
  11. 31m 14s
    1. Painting
      9m 54s
    2. Customizing brushes
      9m 44s
    3. Creating vector shapes
      11m 36s
  12. 14m 51s
    1. Understanding file formats
      3m 46s
    2. Saving for the web
      7m 6s
    3. Printing from Photoshop
      3m 59s

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