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Can i trust my histogram?

ilovemywifeilovemywife Member
edited June 2014 in home
This got me thinking when i read Neils book "On -Camera Flash" Pg 17 "Exposure metering techniques"

What is my cameras sensor range from it mid tone?

What is my clipping point of my D800 for my highlights?

Has anyone found that sometimes the LCD shows the blinkies, but in camera Raw the same file is fine not clipped?

Knowing when i shoot in Raw the LCD on the camera shows i believe, a JPEG version ,so can i trust the LCD?

So if i know exactly what my clipping point is from my cameras spot meter reading off a white wedding dress i have confidence in pushing my exposure up to but not exceeding my clipping point.

When i brought my Sekonic L-758DR Light meter it came with some software "Data Transfer Software Digital camera Exposure profiling" I did not have a clue what this was for so it stayed in the box.

After reading about this software and what it does i knew this would tell me what my clipping points would be and also tell me my dynamic range of the sensor of my camera.

Here's a link on how to

This video is a little old the updated software can use now the X-Rite Color Checker Targets e.g Passport,Classic and the Mini.


Software at http://www.sekonic.com/support/downloads/dtssoftwareformacandwindows.aspx

This image is from my D800 with the 85mm lens.


Have an awesome day.



  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2014

    Let me add my 2 cents worth.

    First up, don't be fooled by having 'no blinkies', in RAW you can bring them back very easily, and *safely*, too many people concern themselves over this issue and I don't see a reason unless you are shooting jpeg.

    In fact, unless I have sky, sea, sand, wedding dress I will always slightly over-expose because I want clean shadows for images which contain say rocks, darker backgrounds, and when I bring the exposure back in post, then open up the shadows in editing, I will have a much cleaner shadow range from noise.

    Also, you have to bear in mind, because it's showing clipping on the LCD, then you open up the file and no clipping is showing, does not mean the exposure is 'correct'. In fact, if you do see blinkies, then open in RAW and see none, I will bet you the whites (relevant ones that is) are still over-exposed, you should be bringing back the exposure and open the shadows, and add black to get the contrast needed.

    Now, the fact is, as you already stated, you are looking at a 'compiled jpeg' embedded in the RAW when viewing on the LCD. It shows blinkies, but no clipping in RAW.

    The reason for that is simple, the jpeg is being massively compressed in the shadows and the highlights, the color is being saturated, and the contrast is greater, along with the sharpening.

    So when you open up the RAW and it shows no clipping, I will also bet the shadows are not 'rich and black' because the RAW file has been designed to retain the maximum amount of shadows/highlights and all the tonal range in between therefore you need to add that contrast/sharpening to make an image.

    One thing makes an image, contrast/sharp, get that right you are in the ballpark.

    Don't like the idea of seeing clipping, etc., well that's easily fixed, in your camera settings for jpeg, drop back the contrast, saturation, sharpening to maybe 1 click below the standard settings, to get a 'flatter' file, even drop the contrast back 2 under the normal setting.

    Now you will have a file looking similar (or pretty close) to what the RAW will look like.

    Personally I prefer to 'see clipping' because the worst thing you can do is under-expose, especially in skin-tones, if you are slightly over and bring it back, you will get cleaner skin/shadows.

    Also if I am shooting a sunset say, I will have my ambient (manual naturally) set so the sky is juuuust slightly blown to try to bring up some shadows, but then I will also have my subjects lit by flash, but you need to have them slightly blown to the same degree.

    That way when I drop the exposure back to correct levels for the sky/flash lit subjects, then edit opening the shadows, I am totally confident I will have less noise/cleaner shadows.

    Hope this helps.


  • Thank you for your reply Trev,

    I am comfortable shooting an image like a wedding dress "without" any flash, because i know if i spot meter the dress i can safely know through the knowledge of my cameras clipping range i can push the reading up 1-2 stops, but add a on camera flash and TTL, the rules change,or i think they do ,i feel i don't have the control as off camera flash Manuel.

    I think experience counts with this one,testing and trial and error.

    I feel more confident with off camera flash because of a light meter.

    But a lot of the time you have to use on camera flash for a wedding.

    What setup do others use at a wedding for TTL.? Is there a rough starting point with your flashes FEC

    After reading Neils book am i right in my thinking still spot meter the dress,but don't push the exposure to far to the right say 2/3's to a stop.? The add - FEC say 1.7 on the flash.

    Do we as flash photographers have more control using Manuel flash off camera, than TTL?

    Hope i make sense


  • Makes sense Trev. I generally don't have an issue with whites of any kind since switching brands. If my EVF tells me its too dark, and I'm at lowest shutter setting I want to be at, I add flash at lowest power setting possible. Seems to work fine for my uses.
  • What Neil wrote over here is great, thanks.


    Quote : A fairly simple way to get accurate exposure, is to use the histogram. I place my brightest relevant tone at the edge of the histogram. All the other tones will fall into place. In this way, you simply expose correctly for your subject – the bride in her white dress.

    Now if you add fill-flash, let's say at -2 EV, then the bump in exposure is fairly minimal. At -1 EV fill-flash, the bump in exposure is becoming more pronounced but is still well within what the RAW file is capable of handling.

  • With reference to Neil's various articles on using the histogram to meter for a bride's white dress, is it also possible to use an incident light meter in its ambient mode to arrive at the same exposure settings?

    (I've only ever used my light meter for metering manual flash).

    Or is the histogram method the better one to use?
  • Camera technology has become good enough that the camera's histogram using manual flash is actually decently reliable. You don't really need a lightmeter, and Neil has previously stated that he hardly uses his. He has been taking pictures for so long that he intuitively knows where his settings need to be to get him to a proper exposure (or close to it).

    I think manual flash provides the most "control," but in a dynamic wedding situation or any other dynamic situation, a person will have trouble adjusting settings fast enough. TTL is great for dynamic situations, because within a range of plausible exposure settings, TTL technology adjusts the amount of flash needed for correct subject exposure.
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