Just getting started with photography? One of the first things that you need to understand is the histogram, and how it works whether in-camera or in post-process. It’s an important technical detail that will allow you to get properly exposed photos with as much detail as possible. Understanding what this graph is telling you about your shot may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually not as complicated as many beginners may think.

In the video above, Jess Wealleans of That Photography Spot channel explains the basics of histogram and how to interpret the graph you see on your camera screen. It’s best to have the histogram displayed as you compose your shots, so you know right away how your exposure is doing. In a nutshell, the left-most part of the graph represents the blacks, and the right-most part is for the whites. As Wealleans explains, if your histogram is mostly bunched up to the left side, it means your photo has mostly blacks or is underexposed. If it’s on the right, it means your shot is mostly white, or is overexposed.

To help you get a better grasp of how to read the histogram and use it effectively, she also included some examples of RAW images and their graphs. These include instances when you’d want to edit your image more to the left or right side of the graph for creative purposes. Just make sure you don’t have clipped shadows or highlights!

Got more to add to these histograms tips and know-hows? Go ahead and drop them in the comments below, or join the Photofocus Community today to share them with your fellow photographers!