As a matter of fact most quality digital cameras have the ability to display this graphical representation of image brightness for each image and every one of the quality digital editing programs prominently display the image histogram.
Understanding what it's telling you may be a great help in your projects. There's really no such thing as a perfect PaintShop histogram - really they are a guide that will help you decide which adjustments are appropriate for each image
This is, more or less, a balanced PaintShop histogram (I really had to look long and hard to find one that was close to balanced). Balanced means the curve starts on the bottom left, gracefully increases in size to about the middle of the screen and then falls down gracefully to the bottom right.
In your editing you'll find thousands or different configurations of the curve.
So let's take a look at the curve ...
In the image represented by this histo (not shown) the majority of the pixels are in the mid-tone area with a nice representation of both shadows and highlights so it is a nicely balanced image. Without even seeing the picture you know that there's lots of detail with nice contrast - see how useful it is already!
Ideally in a balanced image every Lightness level between 0 (Black) and 255 (White) will be represented on the PaintShop histogram. Of course some levels will be represented more than others - that's what gives the height of the histogram.
The higher each vertical band - the more pixels are present at that particular level of lightness.
If you run your cursor over the curve, you'll see the numbers on the right side of the palette change.
The total number of pixels and the amount of pixels at each brightness level are not important - just interesting unless of course you are some kind of math geek. What is important is the shape and where the end points are located.
The metering of every digital camera light meter and every hand held light meter is standardized to set the cameras f-stop and speed based on an object that is middle gray at approximately 18% luminance. If the camera is pointed at a very dark subject then the meter will assume that the surface is 18% gray (no matter how dark it is) and make the settings accordingly - this is the main reason for both under exposures and over exposures so be careful when you are metering.
There really is no such thing as a bad PaintShop histogram because each image has its own purpose. Here are some examples and some observations.
When you apply an adjustment to a photograph the change in the appearance can be easily seen on the histogram.
Take the following picture for instance - it was a quick shot (no time to do anything other than press the shutter) taken with a film camera from a bus in France way back then.
The negative was flat and the top picture is a scan of the original image. No contrast with most pixels clumped about middle gray.
100% of the pixels are contained from level 80 to level 231 which is a far cry from 0 to 255 for a normal, balanced histogram (that's easy to figure out by left clicking at one point and dragging up to the highest point - the palette tells you all kinds of neat information).
Some high end math demonstrated that this image contains pixels in only 59% of the available lightness positions - not much, really.
After adding a Curves Adjustment layer we've got a substantially different PaintShop histogram and a much more pleasing image ...
Some things to note ...
There are a lot of check boxes at the bottom of the palette.
The most common use of the curve is to look at the brightness levels (Lightness) and checking Use All Layers is useful as well - heck, leave it checked all of the time..
You can probably come up with a reason to check out the brightness levels of a selection as well.
With a color picture and everything checked the curve is kind of pretty. Here's a view of the curves for the motorcyle shown earlier ...
It's kind of tough to make anything of that, isn't it?
Go ahead and have some fun with the PaintShop histogram!
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