Our photo tip for today is another piece of camera gear that you really can’t do without. It’s the “Polarizing Filter!” If you are at all into outdoor scenes and landscape photography it is vital and you should never leave home without it.While many filter effects can be added after the fact in Photoshop, to add the effects of a polarizing filter would be almost impossible. I suppose there is some Photoshop genius out there that could do it, but it would take untold hours.Did you get into photography to create amazing photographs? Or did you want to sit in front of your computer all day trying to master Photoshop, and “fix” your images.What does a polarizing filter do? It polarizes the light! (Duh.) What does THAT mean?There are two main types of polarizing filter – a linear polarizer and a circular polarizer. This does not refer to the shape of the filter, but to the way it polarizes light. Back in the day, both were available as photo filters but in reality, the circular polarizer was best and not many people bought the other. I don’t know if linear polarizers are still available or not. If they are, the circular polarizer is the one you want. When we see light, it is generally made up of the entire color (wavelength) spectrum. Plus it is bouncing all over the place – off objects in the scene, off molecules in the air – everything.When the light enters the camera (or our eye) it is coming in from all directions and creates glare. Plus it is all the various colors in the light spectrum.
Sometimes it is better to eliminate some of the colors or to eliminate glare.Basically, polarizers straighten out the light wave so the light particles are all traveling into the camera in a straight line – this eliminates glare. The filter also blocks some of the light wavelengths (colors) from getting through – intensifying what is left!An example of a polarizing filter can be found at a 3D movie. The special glasses you wear (not the old fashioned red and blue ones) are actually polarizers. Each side blocks certain wavelengths of light and allows others to pass. In this way, the movie makers are able to determine what we see to make it appear 3D.This blocking of some light waves and allowing others to pass are what intensifies the colors in the sky of our landscape! It also makes the clouds almost “POP” out of the frame. It is this that creates those entrancing skies we often see.As a side bonus, we can determine the amount of polarization we use! Just put the circular polarizer on your lens and – while looking through the viewfinder – slowly turn the filter. (It spins around.) You will be able to visibly see the changes in polarization. Stop when you reach the point you like best and shoot away!More or less polarization can be achieved depending on the angle of the sun too! The sun at 90 degrees relative to the lens tends to give you the most polarization opportunity.
Most landscape photographers use polarizers to intensify the sky, but cutting out glare is a handy feature too! Note: Your filter will not eliminate glare from a metal object. The light is already polarized.A polarizer will eliminate glare and reflections off store windows – allowing you to get better shots of the displays inside. It also polarizes the light bouncing off trees, leaves, flowers and so on, thereby eliminating glare and intensifying their colors!No camera bag should be without a circular polarizer. It is one of the most useful pieces of camera gear you can own and it can’t be easily replaced by Photoshop. So here is your photo tip – if you want your landscape photography to grab your viewer’s attention (and not let go) use a polarizing filter on all your outdoor shots. It is an indispensable piece of camera gear and you should never leave home without it! For more information check out the resource box!