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07-13-2008, 08:11 PM   #1
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Paying Attention to your histogram - A good thing.

I was asking a question about printing problems from Lightroom at DPReview forums when someone noted my pictures looked "extremely dark" on my flickr page.

I thought the guy was crazy, obviously, but I went back and started to more critically look at the shots - and he was almost right. My shots are too dark! Bah!

------------------

Eyes may lie, monitors may lie -- but histograms do not lie. For whatever reason (perhaps my monitor was too bright), I had been publishing many of my pictures just too darn dark!. My histogram was pushed a little too far left. Blah!


You be the judge:

Before


After




Before



After


Before



After


------------------------

I think I was so caught up in making sure the ends of my histogram weren't clipped (or were barely clipped) that I wasn't actually paying attention to where the histogram was sitting most of the time!

07-13-2008, 08:18 PM   #2
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Are you pushing your histograms all the way to the right or just stopping it a little before the right? The reason I'm asking is that I kind think you might have over done it a little. Somewhere in between the before and afters would be more appealing to me on my monitor.
07-13-2008, 08:21 PM   #3
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Many people think an insignificant blown highlight is the end of the world.

I use this page to see if my monitor is in the ball park.
http://www.jasc.com/support/kb/articles/monitor.asp

I also check the galleries I post in to see if mine are about the same as the (supposedly) calibrated images.
07-13-2008, 08:37 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stratario Quote
Are you pushing your histograms all the way to the right or just stopping it a little before the right? The reason I'm asking is that I kind think you might have over done it a little. Somewhere in between the before and afters would be more appealing to me on my monitor.

Nope -- I'm moving the histogram to where the majority of the curve (if there is a curve) sits right in the middle, minding blown highlights as much as I can.

According to clipping alert in Lightroom, the only picture I posted that even has a blown highlight is the Parrot, and it's just a few pixels on his beak and under his eye a little.

07-13-2008, 08:40 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Many people think an insignificant blown highlight is the end of the world.

I use this page to see if my monitor is in the ball park.
http://www.jasc.com/support/kb/articles/monitor.asp

I also check the galleries I post in to see if mine are about the same as the (supposedly) calibrated images.
Yeah some people freak over the smallest highlight blowout or shadow drown - like me! (well, not now!).

I think I was watching my clipping alerts so much that I was forgetting to actually make the image viewable. It's also possible I had my monitor brightness just too high -- I had to go into Nvidia control panel and lower brightness from 50% to 45%. I must admit, my newly edited images look a little better now.


Oh, and THANKS for that page! Bookmarked.
07-13-2008, 08:41 PM   #6
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The top images all look fine to me, however the bottom tucan (is that the right name for that bird?) and the bottom elephant both look too light for my tastes.

Brightness appears to be like sharpness, or contrast. All a personal taste.
07-13-2008, 08:58 PM   #7
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The only one that looks a bit too dark is the elephant's original. Don't listen to flickr affectionates, they wont settle until you top sharpness, contrast and saturation levels. There is no "right" lightness for a picture, choose the look depending on the mood and detail you want to show.
07-13-2008, 09:32 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ricardobeat Quote
The only one that looks a bit too dark is the elephant's original. Don't listen to flickr affectionates, they wont settle until you top sharpness, contrast and saturation levels. There is no "right" lightness for a picture, choose the look depending on the mood and detail you want to show.
I completely agree. I found myself adjusting the histogram to be a "perfect" shape. Problem was, I was destroying my photos in the process of trying to get the histogram "textbook" looking. I admit that I often prefer images more to the left. I also understand what a proper exposed histogram should look like. I just find that many of my images don't look the best to ME if I follow the textbook look. I think somewhere in between the two versions you show would work best for me. Lighten them up just a tad, but not as far as you have here. There is room for the photographer to decide what their images should look like. Not some random formula.

07-13-2008, 10:42 PM   #9
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Cputeq

I cant understand that if going by your monitor (it being to bright... hence your tendency to expose as dark) then wouldnt all photos you were viewing on this site seemed to have been to bright?
07-13-2008, 11:12 PM   #10
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Just like with slide film - expose for the highlights. A blown highlight is exactly the same as clear film base - nothing can be recovered. You want a little "stuff" in the secular highlights to play with. The shadows can be opened up easier than a highlight (max data) can be recovered.

Any changes should be subtle - use a soft touch - not a hammer. However, I have found that in some instances a "perfect" histogram is not what is needed. Some shots have a small DR, not all shots encompass the true DR of the system.

I like the images - but the elephant has lost the details in the "after" highlights - the dust around the head should have more texture - like the "before" image. Don't surrender detail for idealized exposure curves.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
07-13-2008, 11:17 PM   #11
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To be honest, i like the before better then the after on all pictures.
07-13-2008, 11:23 PM   #12
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I prefer the before shots as well and I think Cputeq that after someone has commented that your shots appear on the dark side it has made you review your unconcious preference.


If your monitor was adjusted incorrectly you would note have noticed the difference between a Lightbox photo and your flikr posted photo.

Stick with your inner preference I reckon as thats what is pleasing to your eye.
07-14-2008, 12:42 AM   #13
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Personally, I prefer the before images, and I think nulla has hit the issue on the head, so to speak. (post #12)

I find I treat digital images like slide film, exposing for the highlights (once they're gone, they really are gone!) and giving the shadows a gentle nudge post shooting if really necessary. I find I need to treat images for display on a monitor differently to those I intend to print. There's a huge difference between what you can do with an image relying on reflected light (a print) as opposed to a "backlit" (is that the right word? - I think my meaning is clear) image on the screen.
07-14-2008, 02:59 AM   #14
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Thanks for the inputs everyone! I think maybe I did push it too far, and I'm going to keep the curve nudged a little left. instead of centered, eyeballing it for each picture of course.
07-14-2008, 03:52 AM   #15
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Hi

Very strange, but I like all the after images!

Sudeep
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