The histogram is based around a fairly simple principle, but one that many still struggle to get to grips with. Put simply, it’s a graph showing the relative proportion of brightness levels throughout your image.
In the latest video from Rocket Jump Film School, cinematographer Jon Salmon talks us through exactly what the histogram is and how to interpret it effectively to get the best out of your camera.
The video above does primarily focus on using the histogram to get the perfect video exposure, but the principles don’t change when shooting stills. The tips and information contained applies equally to stills photographers.
One thing alluded to in the video is the “Live Histogram”. This is basically a histogram that you can see while you’re looking at your scene with liveview (or an EVF), rather than after you’ve created your image.
Unfortunately, not all cameras (mostly Nikons) support the Live Histogram. So, your only real options are to shoot using an external HDMI monitor which provides a live histogram, such as the Aputure VS 2 FineHD, or shooting tethered to a desktop, tablet, or laptop using something like digiCamControl (free, but Windows only).
The histogram can be your best friend once you fully understand it, and at worst it’ll help to reinforce the results of other metering methods.
Do you use the histogram to meter for stills or video? If not, how do you prefer to do it? In camera reflective spot meter? Matrix/Evaluative metering? Or a handheld incident meter like a Sekonic? Let us know in the comments.
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