This Lightroom tutorial is especially for you histogram lovers out there.
Lightroom displays a histogram on the top right hand corner of the Library and Develop Modules. It shows you the spread of all the pixels in your image from darkest on the left to lightest on the right.
The histogram gives us good info about whether we have blown out highlights or blocked shadows. It also shows us whether the individual color channels fall on this tonal spectrum. We especially want to avoid pixels that climb up either of the side walls of the histogram.
We all know that for portraits, faces are the most important area to nail exposure in. But how do we know which part of the histogram relates the the faces in your image?
That’s where this handy trick using the crop tool comes in. Click on the crop tool to turn it on (the shortcut is R) and drag a box around the face whose exposure you are concerned about. The histogram now only reports on the pixels inside the crop box.
When you’ve finished reading them, click the Reset button to undo that crop. (And don’t worry, a crop is never permanent in Lightroom, so you won’t accidentally crop away important parts of your photo.)
So now that you can isolate the histogram readings for the important areas of the photo, what does it all mean?
Here’s our first-day-of-school photo this year, with its histogram displayed. My little kindergartner was a bit apprehensive, as you can see.
The overall exposure of the photo looks good. However, I’m concerned that their faces are too bright. So after drawing out an area around my other daughter’s face, you can see the new histogram.
Now, there are no specifics here. However, skin is mostly red. And the red pixels in the histogram are a little too far to the right for my taste. So I went down to the Luminance tab of Hue/Saturation/Luminance, grabbed the target tool, and clicked and dragged down over my daughter’s skin.
You can see the subtle change in the histogram here. The red pixels stacks are shorter and not as close to the right side.
And here is a zoom in on the change to the photo. There is more depth and dimension after the darkening of reds and oranges.
Now, I didn’t technically need the histogram here. My eyes were telling me that the skin was too bright, and with skin, red and orange are usually the culprits. However, there are times when you don’t know for sure what needs to be changed. Viewing the histogram with the crop tool is one more piece of data that Lightroom gives us to help us decide the best way to edit our photos.
Would you like to know more good stuff like this about Lightroom? Register now for my 2 night Lightroom workshop next week!