In this tutorial I want to take a good look at Lightroom‘s Histogram and explain to you how to use it to help with your images and make them look spectacular.
You can see the Histogram both in the Library Module and the Develop Module, but you can only really use it for the Develop Module.
So, click on Develop.
You will see it at the Top Right hand corner.
You can also access it by pressing (Ctrl+0) that’s Control + Zero, or on a Mac it will be Command + Zero.
So we could go super in depth here talking about the Histogram, but that is really not necessary to learn how to use it and get great results.
The Histogram is really just a Graph plotting out all the pixels on your image.
In the image below, where I have highlighted you will notice R G B with percentages on it, and you will notice how this changes as you hover over areas on your image. This is useful when you are checking areas and you think it looks a little too “Red” or whatever, and you start to change the colours up trying to balance it out, you can use these percentages as a guide for that.
You’ll understand more as I go along.
You will also notice when you hover over the Graph it is split up into 5 sections.
By clicking and holding on these individual areas you can you can then manipulate your images.
Play around with each one for a few minutes and when you are familiar, Press Ctrl Z to undo until you are back at the start.
For Photography we would mostly use the Highlights and Shadows area, we would also play around with exposure, but the first two would be our main focus so we’re not losing much detail. For example, a bright Sun or edge of a cloud may be far too bright and you’d want to bring that down just a touch.
The same goes for the opposite , like Black Wheels on a Black Car, you may want to take it back a little and show a bit more detail.
So as an example, we’ll take my starter image below.
As you can see it’s a little Dark due to the exposure, the Highlights aren’t great and it’s a little saturated with colour.
To Fix this, I’m first going to Click on Highlights and slide it to the Right a little, to give a bit of life to the models.
Then I’m going to do the same with my Shadows, only this time I’m going to slide to the left a little to bring out those Darks more in the Eyes, Background and Hair.
And Finally, I’m just going to play with the Exposure a little, it’s not really necessary, but it is good to have a look and see if I can balance the image just a little and see if I can make any further improvements.
You can also play with the Blacks and The Whites too, I found that by sliding the Black area to the right it gave me a little bit more colour.
Now you will notice on the Histogram, there are two upward facing triangles.
When you click on them, what they indicate are the areas in my image that is absolute Black or absolute White, my whites were fine which means my Highlights are all good and the Blue Dots Highlighted in the Image above are true Black, on this occasion those true Blacks are fine, there’s no problem there. But as mentioned before, you may lose some detail in the Shadow areas, you’d then have to play with Black, sliding back and forth to try to fix it as best as you can.
In my image the Blacks are spot on, no problems with those as they’re deep in the Shadows.
To check back and forth instead of clicking on them all the time, you can press (J) to show both Whites and Blacks, Whites will be in Red and Blacks in Blue.
So I hope that has enlightened you a little on the Histogram, it looks scary but it really isn’t.
We also have some FREE Lightroom Presets which are awesome! Enjoy 🙂