David Johnston

Editing a Photo Only Using the Histogram

David Johnston
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Duration:   4  mins

There are times when you wish post production editing was less time consuming. Well, it can be through histogram editing. What is histogram editing? A histogram is a graph that measures the brightness of an image by representing the frequency of each tone as a value on a bar chart. The horizontal axis moves from pure black on the left side of the histogram, through shadows, midtones, and highlights, all the way to the brightest white on the right side. In this video lesson, photographer David Johnston takes you through the process of histogram editing.

The good news is that you can edit an entire photo using only histogram editing. In Lightroom’s Develop module, David brings up his image of overlapping ferns. As he moves his cursor across the histogram, the tool sliders below are highlighted, for example, whites, shadows and darks. The histogram editing process tells him where the majority of the visual data is collected in the file. He hovers the arrow cursor over the graph and moves it slowly to the right, which increases the exposure. By again hovering the cursor over the graph and moving left, he makes adjustments to the shadows.

In this example of histogram editing with his ferns image, David has spread the graph, resulting in more visual data across whites, highlights, midtones, shadows and blacks. If you press the J key on your keyboard, the graph will indicate the clips in the image. Clips will show you the parts of your image where there is no data. By adjusting your cursor on the graph, you can add back the data.

In this video, Editing a Photo Only Using the Histogram, Outdoor Photography Guide’s pro photographer David Johnston demonstrates histogram editing. He uses only the histogram to edit his image of green ferns. Next time you want to save time in post production, you can try histogram editing.

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