Making Image Adjustments In The Histogram

Many of you know the Histogram as a good way to view the tonal range of the image. Sometimes you might look at your cameras histogram to get a quick glance of your exposure. You might also peek at it in Lightroom to see if there is any clipping in the shadows or highlights. But did you know you can edit the image directly from the histogram in the Develop Module in Lightroom? Its a very quick and easy way to make some corrections to the image.

First lets talk a little about what the histogram shows in lightroom. The histogram image is a graphical representation of the tonal distribution in your image. It plots down the number of pixels for each tonal value. You can very quickly judge the tonal distribution of a photo by looking at the histogram. In Lightroom the Histogram is broken down into 4 sections; Blacks, Fill Light, Exposure and Recovery. You can easily see what section of the histogram is being represented simply by moving your cursor over any part of the histogram image. Lightroom will highlight the section so you can see what part of the histogram is going to be effected if you make any changes. In the histogram below I am hovering over the leftmost part of the histogram and it is showing me the shadow (blacks) area.

histogram for lightroom

Here is the actual image the histogram is representing.

histogram adjustments lightroom

If I wanted to quickly adjust the shadows (blacks) of the image I can hover over that section of the histogram. Then just click and drag right or left to adjust the image. On this photo the blacks are not that dense and I might want to darken them up. If I click on this section of the histogram and drag my mouse over to the left that will darken the blacks and not effect anything else in the image. I can do the same for the other sections of the histogram (Fill Light, Exposure and Recovery.) and adjust the image as needed. This is a really quick way to make some adjustments to the image.

histogram lightroom

Here are how the other sections are broken out in the histogram in Lightroom:

Fill Light:
histogram lightroom



Another quick tip regarding the histogram in Lightroom is using it to show the clipping of an image. If you hover your mouse over the arrow icons on the top right or left of the histogram section this will show you if anything is currently being clipped. You will see the areas of your photo highlighted which means that there currently is no detail in that section at all. Using the arrow icon on the top left will show you any shadows that have no detail and hovering on the arrow on the top right will show you any highlights that will have no detail. A very quick way to see if any detail is being lost and adjust your image accordingly if you would like to try and recover that data.

Just a quick lightroom tip today, stay tuned for more lightroom tips and some new videos to come soon. To make sure you don’t miss any of our articles please sign up for our daily emails. Your email is always safe and secure with us and you will be notified when there is a new post:

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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