Polarizing Filter

Tess had posed a question the other day about whether or not I used a polarizing filter on one of my “elusive tree” shots. Good question Tess! It just happened that the sky that day was very clear and a deep blue, but I thought that her question was a valid one and something that we should explore as a polarizing filter is a most useful screw-on attachment to have in your bag of tricks.

It is most effective when used at an angle to the sun and you will understand what I mean when you actually use one. The easiest way to see the effect is to aim at a blue sky with white clouds… and this is the example that I will use here. As you are looking through your camera, you will actually turn the filter one way or the other and you will see one of two things happen… either it will have little effect in which case you might need to reposition yourself related to the sun or you will gradually see the sky darken and your clouds stand out and be more prominent and more dramatic.

It can also be used to decrease reflections in a window. Try shooting a window display and you may well see car reflections in the window taking away from what you are attempting to shoot. Turn the polarizing filter and this will help to minimize those unwanted reflections.

I have also used a polarizing filter shooting plant life to remove reflections from the green foliage which our eyes are really not accustomed to seeing but then again, the camera sees differently, and it will also decrease atmospheric haze.

You will need to be sure that the filter you buy is the correct millimeter size to screw on the front of your lense.

I am including a couple photos I just took at the lake so you can compare the effect of a polarizing filter on the sky.

To read more… please go to this excellent article:
http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-use-and-buy-polarizing-filters

Without a Polarizing Filter (Photo by Lala)

Without a Polarizing Filter
(Photo by Lala)

With a Polarizing Filter (Photo by Lala)

With a Polarizing Filter
(Photo by Lala)

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6 thoughts on “Polarizing Filter

  1. Well put and very helpful, thanks. Fay, the CWPC site is phenomenal. Looking forward to catching up to speed with you and everyone. Hope to put in the time soon.

    • Thanks so much rebeKah (with a “K”)!

      I met rebeKah several weeks ago through Capture Dallas. If you crazy women have not been on the CD site, be sure to check it out and look for rebeKah’s photos. She does beautiful work and has won a number of awards! And I guarantee you will love her shot of the squirrel sitting on her sneakers! A unique shot to be sure!

      Look under Favorite Photo Sites on the right side of the blog for Capture Dallas. I think it is about time that some of you crazies start posting there too!

  2. Lala,

    Thank you so much for your time in explaining about this topic. Now it really make sense and clear. I think you were the one who first mentioned me about polarizing filter when we were at the Plano Balloon Festival. I read about it also when I was trying to shoot the annular solar eclipse. I bought one with a neutral density filter of which I don’t know what is that for, still trying to know. Anyhow I think it’s time to use them.

    I appreciate the thorough explanation. Thanks.

    • Tessie… the neutral density filter will decrease the amount of light coming into your lense without changing color so that you can use a wide aperture (shallow depth of field) without overexposing your image in bright light. There are different densities to block varying amounts of light. I have actually never used one. Bring yours along on an outing and we will see how it works.

      To read more: http://www.tiffen.com/tips_ndfilters.html

      • Wow Lala, I am so impressed with your knowledge about photography. You are always my photography “911” emergency assistance. I am in awe with your knowledge, and thank you for always sharing your knowledge to all of us.

  3. Fay,
    Thank you for explaining the polarizing filter and showing us examples with the photos!
    I used one before but had already forgotten when and how you use one! It was a great refresher for me!

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