Polarizer Filter Tips

Sam Zaydel explains why a polarizer filter is a must-have filter for landscape photographers. He also writes on some tips to choose a good polarizer filter and how to use your polarizer filter properly.

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Amazing Landscape Photography with a Polarizer

You know how we all look at photographs shot by professional photographers, and think to ourselves, wow, these are amazing skies, where in the world was this guy shooting? Or, we see a photograph of the ocean, and it is sparkling clear with sea creatures rippling through the its glass-like surface. This is no coincidence, and is what makes a professional photograph a pro! Though this does not mean that these advanced techniques are restricted to professionals. Anyone, granted with a little practice, and learning from their mistakes can do this.

What do Pros do Differently?

In order to understand how the images turn out the way that they for these Pros, you must first understand what polarization is. Without getting into all the technical mambo-jumbo, suffice it to say that Polarization is a way of filtering light in such a way that will block certain amount of light coming in parallel to your lens. This “side” light as I like to call it is what causes the water to look drab, the skies to appear pale blue, and the greenery to look contrasty and unappealing. Polarizer is an almost magical tool, which has an ability to restrict only the light that causes your photographs to look washed out. A polarizer is a filter which you mount on your camera’s lens. It is available in many sizes and types, so it almost does not matter what camera you have, you will find one that fits. Make sure to by a quality product. Even a 58mm diameter quality polarizer will cost about 50 dollars. You ALWAYS get what you pay for. Stick to products made in America, Europe or Japan, ones made in China, Philippines, and Malaysia are often lower in quality.

One important aspect to keep in mind is that professionals always scout their subjects ahead of their shoot, and will observe the subject at different times of day, and often will observe the same subject at different times of year. Most photography lovers simply do not have the time to do that. But to maximize your photographs and get the most out of them, with a polarizing filter, there are some rules you should try to follow.

Rules to Polarizer Usage

A polarizing filter is an amazing tool, but when used correctly, you will get maximum performance, and improvement in your photographs. First of all, you achieve maximum polarization when the sun is low in the sky. This means, mornings and afternoons are better times to shoot landscapes with a polarizer, than say at high noon. Most dramatic landscapes are not shot during daytime, they are typically captured early or late; in either case, the sun is low.

Sometimes, we cannot choose our shooting time, and have to do best we can. When choosing your shooting subject, try to place yourself with the sun being to your left or right. If the light is at a 90 degree angle to the direction in which you are shooting, you will get maximum polarization.

Do not shoot directly into the sun. The effect of the polarizer is immediately visible, so look carefully, and turn yourself, while looking at the change in the effect. Always turn the little ring on the filter, and the polarization effect will be increased or reduced. Remember, there is such a thing as the sky being “too blue” and the water too clear and unnatural. The best suggestion I can give you is to experiment. Always observe your subject. When the sky is cloudless, and purely blue, your photograph will turn out boring. Clouds change greatly when viewed though a polarizer, so look for them, Always!

In Conclusion

There are many approaches that professionals use to achieve those stunning landscapes we all enjoy. You can come close. A polarizer when used properly, and with tips given in this writing, will become a wonderful tool in your arsenal. You will fall in love with it, I promise. Even when you shoot portraits, and other subjects, you will find it useful. In my humble opinion, a polarizer is an essential tool for every photographer, amateur or a pro.

About the author
Written by Professional Photographer, and member of an Online Photographer Community, where photographers have the freedom to share photos of their most favorite shooting locations, regardless of the subject matter and place. Consider joining this community, if you would like to contribute your favorite locations, as well as discover new places from other members. To learn more, please visit http://www.worldonpaper.com/

One Response to “Polarizer Filter Tips”

  1. Dr.Ozdi says:

    Is there link between polarize effect of filter and decrease of exposure? Is for 10Mpx DSLR necessary better filter than for 1/2,5″ 10Mpx compact?

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