What Is a Histogram?
A histogram is a graph that shows tone data from your image. Moving to the left side of the histogram represents the darker, black, shadows of a photo. Moving towards the right side represents the lighter, brighter, white portions of a photo.
Above is an example of a photo's histogram. Notice that most of the information on the histogram is pretty well balanced towards the middle of the graph. I say "pretty well" because it is pushing towards the left (shadows) a little more than the right (highlights). This means that the photo was probably taken in a tad lower light conditions, but the photographer did a good job of exposing their shot.
Check Your Histogram!
Be sure to check the histogram of the photo before you begin editing. It will give you clues to what needs to be done as you edit. You can find it under WINDOW –> Histogram. If you're shooting RAW, you will see the histogram as soon as you open a raw image in Photoshop.
How To Make An Adjustment While Shooting
Most modern cameras have a menu setting allowing you to view the histogram through the viewfinder while you're out shooting. You can adjust your settings (Aperture, Shutter, ISO) to achieve a well-exposed shot - a balanced histogram.
How to Make an Adjustment During Editing
You can view the histogram at any time in Photoshop by clicking on VIEW and then histogram.
You can make exposure adjustments and look at the histogram in real-time by clicking on FILTER → Camera Raw Filter. You can adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites & blacks.
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