Using Histograms when shooting RAW

Started Feb 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
ppage
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Re: Using Histograms when shooting RAW
In reply to henk05, Mar 1, 2013

My usual topic for photography are fat jets at airshows. I a lot of cases when the aircraft is shot with a gray sky behind it, I always end up with a histogram (in Lightroom) which only has a smallish peak in the middle of the histogram (neutral gray). I have noticed that it is almost impossible to correct this, because the peak is too narrow. It doesn't come close to the whole width of the histogram.

ETR is a rule of tbumb that doesn't apply in all situations; you have to think about what you're doing.  In this case the peak in the middle of the histogram simply means that most of the pixels in your image are gray sky and consequently your exposure may be exactly right.  Consider for example, a shot of the moon at night.  If it's well exposed, the sky will be black so you will have a huge peak at the far left of the histogram (sky pixels) and a very small peak at the far right (moon pixels) and nothing in between, and yet it's very easy to overexpose this shot.

For what it's worth, if I were shooting planes on a grey sky I'd shoot RAW, use spot metering, add an EC of about +1 and probably not check the histogram very often.  That's because the meter will be misled by the sky and will underexpose the plane.  To get the plane properly exposed, I'l risk blowing some of the sky.   On the other hand, for most landspaces I'd check the histogram religiously after every shot.

Hope this is useful,

Cheers,
Peter

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