Histograms just show you what’s happening in your images, they’re not there to tell you what to do. But there’s an old adage from the days of film photography that you should still be able to see some detail in the darkest and brightest parts of your pictures, and that’s carried through into digital photography. […]
For photographers, ‘clipping’ is where the image histogram is cut off abruptly at one or both edges. It means that some image detail is completely lost in solid black shadows (shadow clipping) or completely white highlights (highlight clipping). Some shadow clipping can be acceptable, but highlight clipping usually looks bad. For videographers, it can also mean audio clipping, where the sound levels suddenly shoot beyond the range of the microphone or sound recorder, or its current gain setting.
There’s this idea in digital photography that your histogram must never be clipped, and that it should always fit – just – within the maximum width of the scale. And sometimes we work so hard to recover shadow and highlight detail to prevent clipping, that we end up with an image that has lost its […]