Neat and clean. Perfect. Balanced. Evenly distributed.
Whatever. That’s boring.
If your mission with photography is to create dynamic photos that shout, sing and yell, then you’ve got to break out of your box and go for bang, not whisper. Forget subtle, make it pop by pushing your histograms all the way to one side or the other.
In digital photography, we strive to create images with balanced histograms where everything is evenly placed left to right, and all zones of exposure and tone are represented with a pleasant looking curve. So nice and safe. So ho and hum.However, that’s not always how the world looks. The world is full of extremes of light and dark, of brightness and shadow, of left and right. Make use of these wildly unbalanced themes in your photography by accentuating this contrast and creating images that have completely unbalanced histograms. Don’t be gentle about it, run right to the edge with your tonal range and then shove hard.
Although you won’t always want to go too far outside of the box, sometimes it’s ok to have a histogram that’s blown out a bit on either side with the highlights or the blacks, or at least one that’s bunched up all the way up to the edge on one side or the other. In these two images above, you won’t find an even distribution of tones across the entire range. You’ve got tons of light, tons of dark and a small spattering of middle thrown just to define the main subject.
Sometimes that’s the way it should be. So, have fun with your compositions. Experiment. Be bold. Be daring. Be creative.