Using a Polarising Filter
As the old saying goes, ‘If you only see one film this year, you ought to get out more often’. However, if you only use one filter, may I suggest using a polarising filter. I use a Hoya Pro1 Digital Filter, Circular PL, but other makes are available.
A polarising filter does a number of things.
- Saturate Colours
- Lessen Reflections and Glare
- Protect your Lens
It’ll do more to enhance your pictures than a skylight or UV filter, although both have their place. A filter’s effect is two-fold, as well as doing the job it is supposed to, it also protects the end of your lens from scratches and other damage.
A polarising filter is about a 10th the price of a lens. With this in mind, it’s a lot cheaper replacing the filter than the lens.
How to use a Polarising Filter
Firstly, the filter screws onto the front of the lens using the filter thread. Make sure it screws on cleanly to the lens and of course, don’t cross thread it.
To clarify, the polarising filter itself rotates while it stays securely on the lens. To best illustrate a polarising filter, point the camera at the sky or some water while standing at a right angle to the sun.
Then, rotate the filter slowly and you will see the sky get bluer or the water will start losing its reflection. Keep rotating until you get the maximum effect from the filter (bluest sky or least reflective water). Now, take the picture.
You will notice that the shutter speed has reduced compared to the same picture taken without the polarising filter. Generally speaking, most polarising filters will reduce the shutter speed by about 2 stops.
Results of using a polarising filter
In this instance, one result of using a polariser is that reflections on water and other shiny surfaces is dramatically reduced. Below, for example, it is easy to see which picture has the polarizer. In this case, the photos, have not been photoshopped or adulterated in any other way.
Another result of using a polariser is that colours become more rich and vibrant. Once again, the photos below have not been adulterated in any other way.
For all my tips and tricks see my Photography Tutorials page.
To see all my gear, check out What’s In My Camera Bag.
What gear should I use?
Below is the exact gear I used to take these photos, it’s what works for me. Obviously, you need a polarising filter. The filter I have linked to comes in a range of sizes to fit your lens.
- A polarising filter can reduce glare
- A polarising filter can make the colours punchier
- It will also protect the end of your lens
- Changing your position relative to the sun will change the effect
Here comes the science bit! For the exact hows, whys and d’you mind if I Don’ts about Polarising Filters click here
More Photography Tips
Composition – Learn the rules of composition, then break them.
Shutter Speed – Slow Shutter Speed Tips and how to avoid Camera Shake.
Use a Polarising Filter – Take away reflections and boost colours.
Fooling your camera’s internal light meter is easy! – Bracket your shots.
Light changes dramatically with the time of day! Know what’s best for your shot.
Know Your Camera – Know where all the buttons are for when the perfect shot comes.
The Depth of Field – What’s in focus in your picture and what’s not.
Backup and Memory Cards – and spread your trip out over them.
Plan your Photographs – Spend time on Google street view getting to know the area.
Take your time – For less time editing – Walk around the subject and try from different angles.
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