How to take good photos: 09 Assess your shots in-camera
Unless you’re photographing a once-in-a-lifetime, split-second moment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check your images after you’ve shot them – even if it’s only the first one in a sequence.
The most important tools for this are your camera’s LCD screen and histogram display.
Using the screen, you can easily check your composition and framing, and make rudimentary checks on colour to ensure the white balance is set correctly.
Checking the frame is especially important if your camera’s viewfinder doesn’t offer 100% coverage, because you might find a stray branch or figure has appeared at the edge of the frame that wasn’t visible when you took the shot.
And don’t be shy: zoom right in to check your focus and depth of field. Move around the image to see if anything’s amiss.
Now is the time to make any adjustments and shoot again – when you get home it will be too late!
Don’t rely on the LCD screen alone to assess a shot’s exposure. Instead, call up your camera’s histogram.
This simple graph shows the tonal distribution of your image, with the darkest areas of the image shown on the left, and the brightest highlights on the right.
If the bulk of the histogram is shifted to the left, this means the image is dark (possibly under-exposed), while a right-shifted graph means the image is light (potentially over-exposed).
The key is to make sure you haven’t lost any detail – and if you have, it’s in areas you are happy to lose.
Lost detail is displayed by a histogram that extends beyond the left or right edge, indicating blocked-up shadows (pure black) or blown highlights (pure white) respectively.
If this happens, use your camera’s Exposure Compensation dial to adjust the exposure, then reshoot and check again.
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