Tips for Taking Pictures

Ok, so now it’s time to take the photos. Assuming you’ve followed the tips above, you should be able to take a picture of your subject. The only thing remaining is to check the exposure. For feedback on this, we need to look at the histogram. The histogram looks sort of like a spectral graph (like in a spectrum analyzer for your stereo), and it shows you how much of each tonal value is in the photo. Most of the time, it resembles a sort of mountain range. The position of the histogram is related to the brightness of the image. If it’s shifted to the left, that means most of the values in the image are dark, and if it’s shifted to the right, it means most of them are lighter. The best place for the histogram to be, in most cases, is in the middle. This means we have an average tonal distribution with some highlights and shadows. See the photos for examples.
If your histogram is shifted far over the right or left, you need to adjust the exposure. Assuming you are in aperture-priority mode, you want to look for the exposure adjustment controls. This is usually indicated by a “+/-” symbol. When you press this button (sometimes you have to hold it down while you make adjustments), you’ll see a scale going from plus to minus in indexed increments. Often, exposures are thrown off by the background. If you’re using the cyclorama, you’re shooting on solid white and so the camera thinks it’s brighter than it really is. To remedy this, you need to set it to more exposure.

You do this by moving the pointer over towards the “+” symbol, usually by about 2 or 3 index points. If you’re shooting on a black (or dark) background, you need to do the opposite.

The histogram is the best indicator of good exposure — don’t go by what the picture looks like on the LCD, because it’s always wrong. ALWAYS. It’s only there to give you a general idea of the composition and focus. Don’t bother using it for anything else.

This guide was first published on Apr 28, 2013. It was last updated on Apr 28, 2013. This page (Tips for Taking Pictures) was last updated on Apr 06, 2014.