Histograms Explained in 60 Seconds

While histograms can be found in both editing programs and camera functions alike, it’s surprising how one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal for editing images is also one of the most misunderstood. To help understand a little more about histograms and how they work, Envato Tuts+ offers this quick and helpful video:

A histogram is a graph or chart representing the number of pixels for each tonal value (or brightness level). The graph is typically broken down into three distinct sections: shadows, midtones, and highlights, beginning with the tonal value of zero (black) and continues up to 255 (white). Each value is determined by counting the total number of pixels for each tone.

labeled histogram


Histograms are an important tool in photography. From one quick look, you can decipher if you’re missing information, if you can safely shift your exposure without losing details, and a variety of other data. These helpful graphs are located in both the curves and levels adjustment windows in Photoshop, where you can find the black to white version of the histogram…

histogram, levels adjustment window

…and the histogram panel where it is broken down further into the color intensities for each color channel (including both RGB and CMYK).

rgb color histogram chart

Do you use you histogram while editing photos?

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