Maximising Your Onscreen Histogram Accuracy

It’s a little understood fact that when relying on your histogram to take photographs, or using your blinkies for highlight warnings (among other on screen information based on your exposure), the histogram is based on the jpeg profile that you are currently taking photographs in, and not in the raw image produced by the camera. This article will take a brief look at ways in that you can maximize the accuracy of your histogram in a few easy steps.

How to maximise your histogram

There are four primary things you need to understand and be careful with when maximising your histogram. I will touch on each one, and a simple Google search will bring up much more in depth explanations that I can give you.

The first thing you should do is choose a colour profile from your camera that is as flat and low contrast as possible. Stay away from Vivid and saturated colour profiles. The flatter the profile the better. This was the histogram isn’t confused by the bright colours when looking for highlighted areas.

The second thing you should do is avoid using any dynamic range enhancements such as the Dynamic Range or D-Lighting settings that can be found on most cameras. Again, this will force inaccurate measurements of the light as the camera exaggerates the light areas in your image.

Thirdly, and one that so many forget about is your white balance. Make sure that you use manual white balance as with auto white balance, your histogram can really be fooled when it reads a scene wrongly (which it can do a lot of the time in certain conditions).

Finally, your choice of AdobeRGB Vs sRGB will also have an effect on your histogram, as AdobeRGB had a larger colour gamut compared to sRGB, meaning there’ll be a discrepancy in you histogram once again.

Other things to consider

Of course, while these measures above will help get your histogram accurate, there’s still one more setting that will have an affect, and that is your ISO setting. But realistically you need this option more than the others mentioned, and in most cases you will be trying to keep the ISO setting as low as possible in your composition.

All of the above is relevant if you are shooting in raw. If you are a jpeg shooter, you may have to compromise the colour profile setting, or tweak your image later in post processing.

Conclusion

Every situation is different, and solely relying on your histogram is obviously a huge mistake. However, getting the histogram as accurate as possible is important. Be sensible, use your histogram, highlight warnings and any other tools you may have on your camera, Most importantly though is use you eyes!

Improve your photography with a prime lens

A lot of people fail to understand how using a prime lens can make you a better photographer than you are at the moment. There’s a mindset that believes that you are constrained by using a single focal length, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In this article I’ll explain why using a prime lens can, and will, make you a better photographer. You’ll see things differently, and your photography skills will become enhanced in ways you never thought possible.

There are five major points to using a prime lens, all of which give you more discipline in what you do, and all of which will give noticeable difference to photographs and attitude. Of course, as perfect as the one camera one lens and one focal length is, there are times when you will need a longer, wider or zoom lens, it would be silly to think otherwise.

So, here’s the guide to why using a prime lens will make you a better photographer, and the advantages of brings.

One: The Hunt

Although the phrase “Zoom with your feet” is one that is thrown away each time people mention prime lenses, a better term would be “Hunt for your composition”. With the constraint of just one length, you simply just can’t stand in one place and zoom in and out on a composition, getting the same old compositions that everyone else gets. You have to move around and hunt for compositions that are not as obvious. You’ll wander around, get closer or further away, you’ll move more around the perimeter and your eyes will concentrate on your subject.

It may not sound much, but hunting for your composition is much more rewarding. You’ll discover things on the way to your composition, you’ll have different angles and different points of view to what you would get with a zoom lens. Most of all, you’ll be engaging with your brain. No longer will you be lazy and point and shoot from a couple of spots, you’ll figure out each move, step by step.

Two: Creative through assumed limitation

Because of the nature of having a fixed lens, you’ll find yourself being far more creative when taking photos. You’ll usually have a shallower depth of field to play with, giving you a more artistic approach to teaching the photograph.

In other ways you’ll be able to experiment with things such as panoramas, combining numerous shots to make wider landscapes, or play with with Bokeh to get better depth if field. You’ll also generally benefit from using the lens in low light as generally speaking prime lenses have much wider apertures, meaning they let in much more light.

Three: Consistency

Having a focal length you know, and get used to give you a number of advantages. First of all, and most important if you want a body of work to stand out, is that all your photographs will have a consistent look due to the single lens and focal length you are using. A lot of people get confused by this simple point. The human eye hates juxtaposition. If you’re looking at something, and the images vary widley from one focal length to the other, it can seem rather messy if viewed as a body of work. Simply put, your work will look much better, and people will appreciate it much more by being consistent.

Another great advantage of using a prime lens is that your eyes and brain will know exactly how a composition will look before you take the photograph. You’ll be able to envisage the subject in the frame, without lifting your camera, and at the right moment pick up the camera and instantly know your composition before you even less the button. It’s why the 35mm prime lens focal length is so perfect. You look, you see, you photograph, and it’s exactly as you pictured it in your mind.

Four: Set yourself free

A prime lens is usually (but not always) smaller than a zoom lens. For photographers who photograph street photography, weddings, portraits, events or even go on long walks and do landscape, you no longer have to worry about the weight of your lens, you can have the one or two prime lenses and be covered for all occasions.

You’ll be set free because you can forget about putting up a zoom lens to your eye and endlessly moving zoom in and out, you can simply look at your subject and press your shutter button. It’s an invigorating experience, that once you understand, will set you free.

Five: Don’t worry about light

As mentioned, with a prime lens you usually get much wider apertures. Where as most zoom lens start at around F/3.5 or above, prime lenses average anywhere between F/1.2 and F/2.8. You’ll find most are around the F/1.4-F/1.8 range, leaving in a couple of more stops than an average zoom. It’s the difference between shooting at ISO1600 and ISO6400 if you are looking at nighttime shooting!

You’ll find you won’t care about what light your are taking photos in, you won’t mind what your top end auto ISO is set to, and you know you can set a minimum shutter speed of 1/60th with next to no issues. Prime lenses really are your friend in do many situations!

Conclusion

Set yourself a task before questioning these five steps. Put a 35mm or 50mm equivalent lens on your camera (that would be approx 23mm or 33mm on a crop body), and make it the only lens you use the next ten times you go out. Don’t think about it, go out and shoot (use common sense, you wouldn’t use a 23mm taking photos of birds). At the end of the ten photography sessions, print out a couple of photos from each shoot (printing is an important part of learning). Then think to yourself how you felt, and how much more unique your photos are. Think how you learned everything from above, and how you didn’t need to zoom at every opportunity.

There’s no denying some people won’t feel comfortable with a prime lens, and there’s no right or wrong, that’s the way of the World. But just take the time to take your prime out like mentioned above, and after that you may not want to stick to it, but you sure as hell will improve your photography!

Which Prime Lens?

Ideally you need to choose a prime lens that is great for general use. Forget the 50mm on a crop sensor camera, that’s equivalent to 75mm on a full frame camera, and in no way useable day in and day out. You need to use equivalent to 35mm or 50mm (so 23mm or 33mm/35mm on a crop) for the best results and to understand why Prime lenses are so amazing at making your photography better.

If you don’t own a prime lens, there always the option of using your basic lens (usually 18-55mm or thereabouts) at 18mm or 55m (27mm and 82.5mm) and not moving off that focal length.

Snapshot… A word to be proud of.

Let’s make this quite clear. Photographers are a funny breed. While they aspire to be something they’re quite often not, they like to abuse others, or make them think they are inferior by using a word which has somehow become a derogatory word.

Let’s take a moment and see the dictionaries description of a snapshot:

noun
1. an informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small handheld camera.
“a collection of family snapshots”

But, that’s what makes snapshots the best kind of photograph, and these photographs will be the ones you cherish more than any through your time taking photographs.

What is a snapshot

A snapshot is a complement, you’ve managed to capture people, subjects and places naturally. You’ve captured a moment in time that, for a split second, will always be with you because of your timing.

Every time you’re out with the camera, every time you press the shutter release button, you’re taking a snapshot. The moment you start doing street photography, the moment you start shooting events, the moment you take photos of families and friends, the moment you chase the light for a landscape photograph. You’ll have a collection of photographs from that place and time… A snapshot of your time with the camera at that moment.

Is it an insult?

It’s time we changed the connotations of the word, we all take our best, and most importantly, most interesting photos when others claim them to be snapshots. Looking through people’s images, the ones that draws you in are usually the ones which the photographer thinks are his or hers weakest work, the ones that are not edited and have flaws. They’re the ones we all love.

It doesn’t matter if you photograph with a phone or a camera, snapshot is used as an insult, but it really isn’t an insult at all. It just means you have vision enough to capture moments as they are, and not a false representation of what you want it to be.

Aspire to make snapshot a word to be proud of. After all, it’s your most memorable work and the images you’ll always go back to.

— This is just an article to make to think about how you use the word “Snapshot”. Over the years, the word has been used in the wrong way too often. Let’s reclaim it!