What is a Histogram? The Lightroom Histogram is a visual representation of the color tones and luminosity in your image. In addition, to overall luminosity (displayed in gray) the Lightroom Histogram also displays the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) values, as well as their mixed color values (Yellow, Teal, Purple, etc).

Not only is the Histogram a wonderful tool for viewing and analyzing image data, it can also be used to actually develop our image which we will be showing you in this article!

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LIGHTROOM IMAGE PROCESSING MASTERY WORKSHOP V5

The following is an excerpt from the Lightroom Image Processing Mastery Workshop v5. This workshop has over 10 hours of full resolution hands on image processing instructions within the Lightroom Develop Module, and we included 30 images that we develop from start to finish so you can see exactly how it’s done. With this workshop, you will learn how to master post production basics, local adjustment tools, and overall development of photos inside of Lightroom. Learn how to master every aspect of Lightroom Image Processing by clicking here
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USING THE HISTOGRAM TO PROCESS IMAGES IN LIGHTROOM

As we mentioned in the Tips on Using the Basic Panel article, there is a correlation between the sliders in the Basic Panel of the Develop Module and the Histogram. Each of the sliders (Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, etc) controls a section of the Histogram, so when you move a slider left or right you are affecting the data from that section of the Histogram.

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HOW TO USE THE HISTOGRAM TO PROCESS YOUR IMAGES

Tonal values that are in the shadow range are displayed on the left side of the Histogram (Shadows/Blacks sliders), with the far left being pure black. Highlight tonal values are displayed to the right of the Histogram (Highlights/Whites sliders), with the farthest right being pure white. Mid-range tonal (midtone) values are displayed in the middle of the Histogram and are primarily controlled with the Exposure slider. The Shadows and Highlight sliders will also affect midtone values that are biased to the Shadow or Highlight side of the histogram.

An interesting tidbit that not many people know is that you can actually process your images by dragging points on the Histogram directly, completely bypassing the sliders in the Basic Panel section of the Develop Module. Well, in reality, you are still adjusting the Basic Panel tones, you are just doing it with the Histogram rather than the sliders themselves.

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The number that you see under the right corner of the Histogram is the same number displayed on your slider for that particular section (the Black slider adjustment is shown above). By clicking and dragging on the Histogram directly, we’re able to make adjustments on our image as if we were using the sliders. So, let’s go ahead and process this image using the Histogram.

ADJUSTING EXPOSURE USING THE HISTOGRAM

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The first adjustment I’m going to make in this image is to bring up the Exposure a bit by clicking on the center of the Histogram and dragging it to the right, which will make the overall image brighter. I brought it up to +.12 to slightly brighten the image.

ADJUSTING BLACKS AND SHADOWS USING THE HISTOGRAM

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Blacks

Now we’re going to bring down those Blacks to add some contrast to the image. To do this I’m clicking on the far left of the Histogram and dragging to the left. This will make the Blacks in the image deeper, and adjusting the Blacks to -56 is giving me the look I want as it adds back contrast into the shadows.

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Shadows

We also want to bring down the Shadows a bit, and the Shadow section is located between the middle of the Histogram and the Blacks section. I’m dragging to the left to darken the Shadows a bit more, right at around -25.

ADJUSTING HIGHLIGHTS AND WHITES USING THE HISTOGRAM

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Highlights

We have some great details and contrast in the dark areas of the image, but now we want to make some adjustments to the sky. We want bring out some more blues in the sky, so we’re adjusting the Highlights to -46 to pull down and darken highlight detail in the sky.

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Whites

The Whites are a bit too strong in this image, so we’re going to bring them down to -27 to give the clouds a nice and dramatic look. We click and drag on the section of the Histogram furthest to the right to adjust the Whites, and drag left.

THE RESULTS

Now we’re done editing our image using the Histogram, here’s a before and after of our image which you can see by simply hitting the “” shortcut key in Lightroom.

BEFORE HISTOGRAM ADJUSTMENTS

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AFTER HISTOGRAM ADJUSTMENTS

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BONUS TIP:  CLIPPING ALERTS (SHORTCUT “J”)

Another amazingly helpful feature that the Histogram has to offer are the Clipping Alerts (“J”), and these are indicated by the two little triangles at the top left and right of the Histogram. The one on the left indicates black clipping, or when an area of the image is pure black with no other information. The one on the right indicates blown out highlights, or when an area of the image is pure white with no other information. To toggle on and off both the highlight and shadow Clipping Alert, simply press “J” on your keyboard.

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For example, if I wanted to see what areas of my image were blown out or clipping, I would click on either or both triangles by pressing “J”. Blown out highlights will be highlighted in red and clipped blacks will be highlighted in blue as can be seen below.

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Generally, to achieve optimal contrast in an image, you will have a bit of shadow detail clipped and a bit of highlight detail blown. However, if you turn on your alerts and you see a lot of red or blue then you have probably gone too far. We want to retain contrast, without destroying detail. If you have no pure blacks or whites in an image, the image is going to lack contrast and look flat. Likewise, if you have too many blacks or whites in an image it the image will lack detail and will print with far too much contrast. So, find the appropriate amount for your image and your stylistic preferences by using the Clipping Alert function in Lightroom.

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION & BASICS

CHAPTER 2: POST PRODUCTION BASICS

CHAPTER 3: LOCAL ADJUSTMENTS TOOL BASICS

CHAPTER 4: WORKFLOW & DEVELOPING TIPS

CHAPTER 5: DEVELOPING FROM START TO FINISH

CHAPTER 6: OTHER MODULES

Total Course Run Time: 9H 55M 15S

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