Reading the Histogram

Another short presentation to my local camera club.  This item was on activating, reading and responding to the histogram.

A histogram is a plot of the tonal values (dark to light) captured by the millions of photosites that make up your camera sensor in a digital camera.  Just like the eye of a fly that uses thousands of tiny lenses to create one image, the digital camera uses millions of photosites to create one image.  These tonal values can be plotted on a chart available in camera that photographers can use to assess the overall exposure of their images.  One reason this chart is useful is that our eyes handle complex scenes so much better than our cameras.  Knowing what the camera sees helps you make the right choices on settings.

Most cameras show the histogram after you take the photo and display it on the LCD screen.  You can then adjust your settings for the next shot.  But higher end or newer models, especially mirrorless models, include a “live” histogram that helps you pick the right settings before you ever press the shutter.

While post-processing can address some of the problems that arise from using the wrong settings, if your image is overexposed or underexposed, there will be limits on what you can do afterward.  So use the histogram to give you an extra edge every time.

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A Focus on Autofocus

One of the greatest advancements in photography has been the invention of autofocus.  Simply by pointing your camera at a subject and pressing the shutter halfway, the camera will not only meter the ambient light, but bring the main subject into sharp focus.

As with most things photographic, there is theory and there is practice and sometimes the two don’t mesh exactly.  Here’s what I’ve learned about autofocus. Continue reading

File Storage Options – What You Need to Know

Happy-New-Year-Images-2018-HD-1-1The start of a new year.  Time to consider shaping up – not only personally but maybe for your photography workflow.  How can you do things better?  At the very least, you’ve probably accumulated a huge amout of content this year.  Are you running out of storage space?  And are you safeguarding your work appropriately?

Managing and safeguarding your photographs is a personal decision with lots of options. Built-in computer hard drives are bigger and faster every year.  But there’s also detachable hard drives and network hard drives and online storage.  How do you choose the right combination?

I’ve used mixtures of all of the above over the years, and currently assign files to different storage options based on importance and where they are in my workflow.  I also need a clean, easy way to organize my content – client files here, personal files there.

With image volumes increasing, I recently looked into just how well these options are working for me, and here’s what I discovered.  One disclaimer:  these options may not be right for you.  It’s about what you feel comfortable with and what you are willing to spend. Continue reading

The Myth of Fast Lenses

Since I took up photography full-time 3 years ago, I’m much more informed about equipment and techniques.  There are some well-rehearsed lines in this industry:  photography is about shaping the light; remember to work the shot; don’t take pictures – make pictures.  And on and on.

Many of those tomes are also around gear – usually put out by manufacturers I think.  As an example, fast lenses (those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger) are always better than other lenses.  Better for low light capture, better for managing depth of field, better for autofocus performance.  Always buy the fastest lens you can afford.

SaleWhenever I venture to purchase a new lens, I’m typically presented with the fastest lens first – the advanced option.  But the more I’ve shot, the more I’ve come to question this equipment mantra.  Most of the time, you DON’T need the fastest lens.  Here’s why. Continue reading