Don't Forget to Look at the Photo

by Mikkel Aaland

My Lightroom Adventure book tech editor, Doug Nelson, and I got in an argument the other day about the value of placing certain camera EXIF data under the Library module Histogram.



Michael Zajac
2007-05-18 10:18:51
I have found this information useful in calculating exposure value (EV).

I've been playing around with high-dynamic-range panoramas, and knowing the EV of differently-exposed segments lets me correct for exposure precisely when stitching them together. Happily, HDR software lets you apply precise corrections in stops rather than computer-abstracted RGB levels. I found a useful EV calculator online.

2007-05-18 12:01:44
What it is good for? I'll tell Doug: "oh, it's been taken below f8, so this must have vignetting, let's correct that". or, "ah, ISO800, maybe a touch of noise removal would be needed, let me make it 1:1 to check that".
2007-05-18 13:37:16
I appreciate the camera settings because it allows me to quickly see if a group of images taken under similar lighting conditions can be synched with exactly the same development settings. But he has a point...
2007-05-18 16:49:16
As a professional educator, the information found under the histogram helps me quickly see how my students are doing managing the camera and making smart exposure choices.
2007-05-21 14:20:28
I'm sure this article was written to provoke a response so here is my short little essay as to why this topic inflames me to no end! I'm joking of course...

There are many important reasons that the ISO, f-stop and shutter speed should be included with the histogram. In fact I'd be arguing why it wasn't there if Adobe had excluded it. Lightroom's raw work flow is aimed at the professional, if not informed user, but any photographer amateur to professional can extract extremely informative and timely clues to why an image is failing to live up to technical scrutiny. Having the information available at all times allows a photographer to compare and contrast several images very intuitively, almost like one would quickly glimpse at a watch to see the time. This photographic data can be an invaluable learning tool to use for future reference as well. Most "snapshot" photographers view the technical aspects of photography to be rudimentary, confusing and in these days of automatic digital cameras unimportant. However, for the creative photographer those technical "burdens" of ISO's, f-stops, shutter speeds and focal lengths are the very tools of creativity. They are vital to expanding your abilities to capture a dynamic and compelling image. As a professional in digital pre-press and an advanced amateur photographer, I don't understand why people think that the basic rules of photography do not apply anymore with digital cameras. You can look at a poor image all day on your 30" cinema display and not understand why it failed if you don't understand those basic photographic principles. We have replaced film with image sensors, but ultimately photography is still light going through a lens with a variable sized opening onto a photo receptive receiver, timed by a shutter. Whether those stages are mechanical or digital the end result is the same. It is true that there are differences between digicams and full frame DSLR's, but there were differences between APS, 35mm, medium format film as well. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge and understanding is a revealing indication that the basics of the photographic discipline were never grasped by "Doug" or others who share similar opinions. So the next time he has a grainy, blurry image with a lack of depth of field ask him why the histogram didn't tell him anything? Ask him what information would indicate to him why his image did not turn out as expected? The response maybe a sarcastic "Whatever" or an "I don't know, my camera sucks." ...or perhaps he will want to learn more about ISO, f-stops, shutter speed, and focal length after all. We shouldn't be afraid to learn new things even if they are old ideas in the digital age.
Ken Milburn
2007-05-23 15:02:01
I actually agree with what you're saying here...with one reservation. Beginners can learn a lot about what they should have done to make a photo better or different by being reminded of what they did...even if the ASA/ISO and shutter speed only relates to their particular camera. To them, it's the only camera that matters.