WATCHING THE HISTOGRAM

Camera exposure meters can be tricky sometimes (especially mine).

They aren’t always entirely accurate, telling us the exposure is good but then under- or over- exposing depending on the scene. (They lie.)

A quick glance at the LCD may clue you in that the exposure ain’t right, but sometimes the LCD conspires with the exposure meter to delude you. (It’s collusion!)

Exposure meters have personalities. They have preferences. They love some scenes and will give a great reading and other times they tell us to shoot too low or too high.

That’s where the histogram comes in. It gives you the exposure data.

Think of exposure like temperature. Sometimes 55 degrees feels cold, sometimes it feels balmy, but it is always 55 degrees. The perception of the temperature will vary but a thermometer gives you the data. The histogram is your exposure thermometer.

When you get in the habit of studying your histogram, you’ll start to get sense of your exposure meter’s personality. You’ll get insight into how it reads a scene and get a feel of what the exposure should be under various conditions. You’ll be able to anticipate if you should override the exposure meter and dial it down or dial it up. You’ll be a better photographer.

Photography is an art, but it is also a technology and mastering our tools can’t help but help.

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