SLMHMH Guided Exercise

Labelled histogram
Histogram (C) Scott Davenport

The histogram you see in your camera or software is simply a graphical representation of the tonal range of your photo – the blacks are on the left, the whites on the right and the mid-tones fall in between. Any spike that touches either edge is referred to as being ‘clipped’ and in those areas all data has been lost.

The 4 tonal ranges where data remains and which may be effectively modified by processing software are Shadows, Low Midtones , High Midtones and Highlights, however,  without practice and experience, visualising those tonal ranges is not easy.

The slides below will take you through a guided exercise to help you identify those tonal regions, just follow the instructions below each image.

Hover over the image and you will see < and > arrows, use these or the ‘radio’ buttons underneath the image to go forwards / backwards through the exercise.

Then test your understanding by taking the ‘Tonal Challenge’ .

  • Starting Image

    Take a good look at the image and try to fix in your mind where the Shadow areas are.

  • Shadows

    How did it go ? If you've already done the SMH version you'll probably find it's slightly different, so focus on the midtones.

  • Back to the Starting Image

    This time you're looking for the low midtones.

  • Low Midtones

    Perhaps quite a bit more extensive than you thought they may be.?

  • Back again

    Next you're looking for the high midtones.

  • High Midtones

    Again, perhaps quite a bit more extensive than you thought they may be.?

  • Back again – almost done !

    So now take another good look and try to fix in your mind where the Highlight areas are.

  • Highlights

    Again probably not too many surprises, but look again at the car radiator - were you expecting to see Highlights there ?

  • Bringing it all together.

    That's the demonstration over. Use the > and < pointers or the 'radio' buttons if you want to re-run or return to any particular slide. Now have a go at the Challenges and see how you do.