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18.3 - Polarizing

This section appeared earlier in the Light Contrast sections.

Have you ever taken a picture of a landscape with a deep blue sky—and when you looked at the photograph—the sky was a pallid blue or white?

A Polarizing filter will keep blue skies dark.

Below, the Polarizing filter darkens the sky making the clouds stand out.

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Without Polarizing Filter

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With Polarizing Filter

The filter also reduces glare off of water, foliage, and other surfaces.

Above, note how the field toward the right side is a more vibrant green with the Polarizing filter.

Spin It!

Polarizing filters spin.

Look through your viewfinder as you revolve the filter.

The Polarizing affect will change as you spin the filter.

Where's the Sun?

When using a Polarizing filter to darken a blue sky, the affect will be strongest when the sun is to your left or right.

The effect is weaker when the sun is behind you.

The Polarizing filter doesn't darken the sky if the camera is pointed in the direction of the sun.

What Does the Filter Look Like?

A Polarizing filter is gray in color.

Once you screw it on your lens (carefully and not too tightly), the front part of the filter revolves.

As you spin the filter, you can see what it does.

Diameter

Buy a filter that's the same diameter as your lens.

Look at the inside surface of your camera's lens cap. Usually the diameter of the lens is printed there, such as 67mm.

Do You Have More Than One Lens?

If you have more than one lens, buy a Polarizing filter that fits on the largest diameter lens.

You can attach it to your other lenses using adapter rings.

Circular or Linear?

If you have an autofocus camera, purchase a circular Polarizing filter.

Linear Polarizing filters are for manual focus cameras.

Circular Polarizing filters cost about $50 to $60.

Manufacturers

Go to Filters.

Three Cautions

1) A Polarizing filter blocks about one stop of light.

So, remove the filter if it’s not needed, especially indoors.

2) Skies are not evenly Polarized.

Therefore, when you’re using a wide-angle focal length, a sky may show uneven lightening and darkening.

3) As mentioned, use only one filter at a time.

Because Polarizing filters are even thicker than other filters, be sure to remove other filters to prevent the darkening of the corners of your photographs.