Polarize or not to Polarize

by Bob Evans on October 1, 2011

After returning for my last 2 workshops in the Teton and Yellowstone it came to mind that people are sometimes confused as to when to use the polarizer.
So I thought for this months newsletter we might want to discuss when to use them and also how much polarization to use in different situations.

Dawn in Zion

In the first image above you see the sky quite dark in the upper right and uneven overall.
This is due to use of the filter and rotated too far.  In this type of image if you need polarization then simply back off the rotation about 30%.  Then you still get some of the effect but without too much of the darkening sky. Also remember that the maximum effect is always at a right angle to the sun. I reference the right angle because that is the most natural polarization the can be obtained.  If the sun is in front or behind the camera then the filter is mostly ineffective.

Polarized with 30%

 

 

In this second image taken with the filer rotated 30% it still is effective but the sky is much less darkened.

 

 

The second most effective use of the polarizer is to the cut reflections.  Not only from water which is most obvious but also from leaves and other objects that reflect the sun light.

 

Increased color saturation using the filter

I used the polarizer here to  increase color saturation and not the sky.

 

 

 

The last 2 are most obvious, first lots of reflected light in Bishop creek, then polarized to reduce most of the light and expose the boulders.

No polarization

 

 

 

Polarized

So the important thought is to view the scene and think about the different uses of the filter.  You can make a dull image a great one if used properly.
See you next time,  And remember keep shooting!
Bob Evans

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