Digital Photography Quick Histogram Tip

Okay, so you’ve got the basics of the histogram and how it can help.

One use for the histogram is you do not have to see your entire image on a little tiny 2 ½ or 3 inch screen, but you can see how all of the colors in your image are laid out, do
they fall within acceptable limits?  Are they clipped, (cut off), on either side?  If they are too bright, all you need to do is reduce the amount of light coming into the camera, (ie. A higher f-stop number, a lower ISO setting or a faster shutter speed).

If your image is too dark, you may need to go ahead and add more  light to the image in camera, not in photo editing software…  Remember how to do this?  (A lower f-stop
number, a higher ISO setting, or a slower shutter speed).

Here’s where the dirty little secret of histograms comes in…  Are you ready?  It’s okay to have an image that is a little too bright in your camera.  As long as the image is not clipped on the right, you can take the brightness out of your pictures with not too much distortion.  When you make an image darker in your favorite image editing program, you can bring back some of the detail.

If you try that the other way, the results aren’t nearly as good.  Let’s think about this for just a minute.

When you brighten a dark image, you increase the amount of digital noise that is visible in your picture.
This makes your picture look grainy, and noisy.  It actually reveals the imperfections in your picture.

When you decrease the brightness of an image, you are taking away detail from all of the bright spots in your picture, and giving the picture depth and substance.  You are
removing the brightest spots in the picture and bringing them closer to the shades of midtones (the middle tones of your image) and shadows (the darker parts of your image).

If you err on the side of slightly too bright, your images will work harder to make you proud.

Hope you find this tip useful.



Digital Photography Basics , , , , , , ,


  1. Dewayne, I am leaving on a trip June 6 and HOPING that all your good advice will make my pictures for my new blog be SO much better than they otherwise would have!!! Thank you so much for all the advice!
    Sonya Lenzo

  2. Kevin Bettencourt

    Learning photography is like learning guitar. Knowing how to do something is the first step and actually doing is the second. Like guitar, practice makes perfect.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning Repair

  3. I’m having so much fun with my camera now thanks to you!

  4. Dewayne, your photograhy tips are great. I never knew so much about cameras. If teachers were as good as you I would take a photography course.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Sales Motivation
    Now go implement!

  5. Clare Delaney

    I’ll remember that tip about light, thanks Dewayne!

    Eco-Friendly Team!

  6. Makes sense. It’s darn tough to add brightness to the picture with “photo shop” but you can pare it down a little bit if it’s too bright.

    I appreciate learning about the histogram! is the best resource I’ve seen on digital photography.

    Thanks DeWayne

  7. Hi Dewayne,

    So if I’m understanding your quick tip here about the Histogram is that a photograph which you take which is a little too bright you can still work with fairly easily with photo shop etc. But that the photos which are too dark are much harder to brighten up, yes?

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    How to Get a Boyfriend Fast

    • A little too bright is still a very workable image. An image starting too dark is a lot harder (sometimes impossible) to correct.
      Right on target, April.