Lightroom Tips

Friday Tip – Developing with the Histogram

Here’s one of those “Holy Crap!!! I never knew that!” tips. First, it’s a Develop module tip so you’ll have to be in the Develop module to use it. Next, it’s a Histogram tip so you’ll have to know where the Histogram is to use it (it’s in the top right of the Develop module). OK, now that we have that behind us check it out. You can develop your photos visually with the Histogram. Just hover your cursor over areas of the Histogram and you’ll see sections become highlighted. Each section (there are 4 total) corresponds to a slider in the Basic panel. On the far left is Blacks, then Fill Light, then Exposure, and finally Recovery. Once your cursor is there just drag to the left or right to adjust that setting on the histogram directly. How’s that for some Friday coolness? Enjoy your weekend (we’re putting our Christmas tree, or the politically correct “Holiday Tree”, up so I know I’ll enjoy mine).



  1. chris 8 December, 2007 at 20:33 Reply

    Hello Matt,

    I would love to see a more in depth video showing how to view, use and modify the Histogram to get the right picture you are looking for.


  2. Oscar 4 December, 2007 at 10:09 Reply

    This is not related to this post but I couldn’t find an email to write you. I have the latest 1.3 update and today I was updating my keyword list and I noticed that the dialog had changed. I doesn’t have the “Export Parents” tick box but there is one that says “Export containing keywords”. This wouldn’t be a problem if the new box worked like before but it appears not to export the parent keywords. I’ve done a search to find out if this was a recent update but its not mentioned anywhere. Is this something that has changed or is something strange that’s happening to my version?

  3. Charlie Thiel 3 December, 2007 at 15:33 Reply

    Matt! How are you my brotha! Sarah turned me onto to your new site, and it is great! I like the photo of you in the top right hand corner – Matt’s giving out tickets to the gun show!

  4. deepak 3 December, 2007 at 01:43 Reply

    great site! would you mind explaining the histogram a bit at some point?

    what exactly does it mean and what are we aiming for?

    thank you!

  5. Marcos G. Meider 2 December, 2007 at 21:05 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I thought you knew that tip!! 😉
    Anyway, I’ve been looking at your different tips to see if you mention this one:
    There’s another way of accesing to the “compare before after image” with a different approach and a different shortkey (obviously) than the “Y” mode and it will show your before and after image in the develop module at full screen, not side by side, and this is in mac by pressing the (backslash key) and in PC pressing the AltGr + (backslash key). Click it once and it will show the “before” and give it a second click and it will show the “after” one.

    Sorry if you knew this one. I really enjoy reading your tips and keep up the good work.
    Hasta luego.


  6. Glyn Dewis 1 December, 2007 at 04:50 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Great tip … as always :o)
    Hey I know you’re gonna be aware of this, but I’m not sure how many others out there are as I’ve never seen it mentioned .. but when you edit a photo in Photoshop, having exported it from Lightroom (as a TIFF), if you don’t flatten the image after you’ve edited it and simply save it, the layers are retained. This way if you need to do anything on the image again in Photoshop, all the original layers are maintained; this has certainly come in handy on more than one occasion for me :o)


  7. Sonny Hadden 30 November, 2007 at 23:18 Reply

    Great Tips Matt,
    Been watching photoshop TV and wasn’t sure i should waste time learning light room until a episode or two ago. Great stuff you guys do, pass the word! Love the humor. but the political correct stuff’s gotta go, here in the USA we have Christmas trees!!!! If it offends somebody, they have planes leaving every hour. LOL

  8. mattk 30 November, 2007 at 22:35 Reply

    Lou – Cool video

    Dustin – Thanks for keeping me around.

    Stefano – We have a fake pre-lit tree so I’m helping do my part

    Phil – Thanks… (I think)

  9. Phil 30 November, 2007 at 19:27 Reply


    This one’s been out for a while. Usually you’re tips are “Oh wow, I didn’t know you could do that.” But this one’s more like “well Yeah!”.

    Oh well!

    Have a great time putting up your Christmas tree. We’re going to wait another week and cut it fresh (a big advantage of living in Vermont).

  10. stefano 30 November, 2007 at 16:31 Reply

    That is one of the best features of LR…
    I just wish the Curve section was above or below the Histogram – It would make more sense!

    Regarding the Christmas tree – it actually is a north european tradition that predates christianity – or at leats is independent from it!

    I think a nativity has more to do with Jesus…

    I just worry about how many trees get cut and discarded each Christmas –
    A few years back Ikea would sell trees with roots in a pot –
    after the holidays you could return it and get a deposit fee back –
    and the trees would be replanted somewhere.
    I think that was a great idea!

  11. Kathy 30 November, 2007 at 12:57 Reply

    Really great tip! I have been a student of Photoshop for years and love the tips I get from you, Scott and Dave. And another vote for Christmas tree. After all, we celebrate Christmas because of Christ.

  12. Joe Brennskag 30 November, 2007 at 12:44 Reply

    Hey Matt…great tip! When you move from section to section in the histogram the slider becomes highlighted also…very cool. Been reading your tips for a while and never commented, but enjoy them immensely.

  13. Bob Drake 30 November, 2007 at 12:43 Reply

    Christmas Tree for sure! Even our Jewish son-in-law and his sibling and parents don’t question “Christmas tree” and since the wedding we tend to celebrate Christmakuh with them – we visit them for Channukah and they come here for Christmas.

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