Raise your hand if your a "chimper" or if you're always chimping? For those that may not be familiar with the term chimping it means that every time you snap a photo you automatically check your camera display. Checking your camera display isn't bad, but if we're going to check our camera display we might as well get the most out of it, right?
For most of us we're checking our camera display for two reasons. One, did we properly expose our photo? Two, does my photo look pretty, haha. ;) For the most part, I think often times when we check our camera display for proper exposure, we are only looking at the photo displayed and completely bypassing the histogram and info screen. I bypassed my histogram for years. But, once I started taking advantage of it, I was able to create photos better and faster. One of my favorite ways to use my histogram and the information included is being able to duplicate exposure on the spot.
READING YOUR INFO SCREEN
When reviewing your info screen the first things you want to look at are the basics to the exposure triangle. Your shutter speed, your f-stop, and your ISO. You'll also find the details of the lens your using, your white balance, and the image quality. Before taking a look at your histogram, I would suggest you familiarize yourself with all the details of the exposure triangle. In the image above we can tell that I was shooting with a shutter speed of 1/800, my f-stop was 3.5, and my ISO was 200.
READING YOUR HISTOGRAM
Your histogram is the graph next to your image. Reading your histogram basically allows you to view the brightness of your image. In the histogram above the majority of the graph is even except on the far right, where the graph shoots up. When the graph shoots up on the right it means there is a portion of my image that may be overexposed. Based on looking at my image I know that the overexposure is coming from the sky. My subject is properly exposed, but the sky is overexposed, in this particular photo, I'm okay with that.
If you were to view a histogram where the graph shoots up on the left that would mean that the image may be underexposed or a portion of the photo may be underexposed.
If the graph creates a u-shape, with the graph shooting up on the right and the left, that is an indicator that there is high contrast in your photo. In the very first photo in this post, if you look closely, you'll see that the histogram makes a u-shape. That u-shape is due to the fact that my photo was backlit, leading the background being overexposed, and the contrast to the black camera leading to the graph appearing to be underexposured.
FINE-TUNING OUR EXPOSURE
If we take the basics of the exposure triangle and our understanding of the histogram, we can fine-tune our exposure. The importance of your histogram comes in when you know what kind of image you want to create. When I create images my histogram does plenty of different things. I get u-shaped histograms, I get the graph shooting up on the left or shooting up on the right, but because I know what causes the graph to do that I know how to adjust my exposure properly.
Often times when I begin any type of photo session, whether I'm doing portrait sessions or I'm working on studio photos, I always check my info screen and keep track of the best settings for my photos. That is how we determine the best exposure for the lighting that we're shooting in. When I do portrait sessions, I'll take a few test shots and check my info screen. I'll know what ISO I want to shoot at and I'll know what f-stop I want to shoot with as well. The test shot is to determine what shutter speed is best paired with my ISO and f-stop. I can easily see with my info screen the best shutter speed to use and continue to use that throughout the session without having to guess.
Reading your histogram can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you're just beginning your photography journey. However, with continued practice you will begin to create images at ease and you'll be able to take advantage of your info screen and histogram. xoxo. Samantha