A simple introduction to polarizing filters

The sky is no limit

One of the great problems of photography is contrast. A very bright sky loses its colour as it tends to over expose – trending toward white. Meanwhile the ground is well exposed. Here we look at one way to bring back that colour.

Polarizing Filters

If you read Skylight and UV filters you will know that the use of filters to cut out ultraviolet light is largely unnecessary with digital cameras. Polarizing filters on the other hand deal with the visible light we see in daylight. These filters have two purposes.

First, they have the effect of darkening the sky. This helps to off-set the over-exposure effect of brightness. It brings back the blue colour. This adds saturation to the sky’s own colour.

The other effect is on reflections. The polarizing filter helps to reduce reflections from some surfaces. This is often used to reduce excessive effects of sunlight on glass, or the intense reflections from water surfaces. The result allows us to see through the glass or into water.

In the video the presenter examines the effects of polarizing filters and how to use them. One of the types he shows is the circular filter, probably the most common type in use today. Watch carefully at how he adjusts it. This is an important technique. If you just mount the filter and don’t adjust it the effect can be too strong. This is a common mistake with less experienced users.

Video – Using polarizing filters

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