So you’re here because you have no idea what a polarizing filter is. Or you have one, but have no idea how to use it, and what for.
You’re in the right place. We won’t only tell you what a polarizing filter does, but how to use it to get the best from your photographs.
Why You Should be Using Polarizing Filters
Polarizing filters are one type of lens filter. It is a worthy addition to your camera gear as it is great for shooting in direct sunlight.
They remove glare from nonmetallic objects. This, in turn, creates more naturally saturated colors.
The effect created by a polarizing filter is one of the only ones you can’t replicate in post-production.
What Is a Polarizing Filter?
There are two types of polarizing filters; linear and circular.
Photographers use linear filters for film photography. And circular polarizer filters for digital. Circular filters will not confuse your digital camera’s autofocus.
When you attach the circular filter to the end of your lens, you can still rotate the filter. This changes the direction in which the light is polarized.
What Do Polarizing Filters Do?
When shooting in direct sunlight, you’ll often find that your images come out harsh with an overexposed feel. Think about when you’re in the sun with no sunglasses on. It’s hard to see, right?
Polarizers work by only allowing in light from a certain direction, removing glare from photos.
Have a look at the photos below. The first was taken without a filter and you can see the sun reflecting off the road.
This has overexposed the whites. It makes finer details harder to see, decreasing the overall quality of the photo.
Now have a look at a similar photo below, but this time I used a polarizing filter.
It has removed the glare from the road and you can make out the whites a lot better. The left shoulder of the subject has much more detail too.
There is now a distinct difference in color between it and the road.
The polarized photo is much easier to look at.
Polarizing filters also remove haze from photos. This is the most obvious when taking a photo of a distant subject or scene. It makes the sky look much bluer and all the colors more vibrant and saturated.
Have a look at the 2 photos below – only the second is polarized.
How to Use a Polarizing Filter
Polarizing filters produce their best results when they’re 90° from the sun. This is a great way to get the best from your filter.
But you need to be careful when taking a photo of a wide-angle scene as the sky’s polarization isn’t even. You’ll start to see a change in the blue color as it gets farther from the sun.
The filter has the least effect when the sun is behind the lens as demonstrated below. I only used a polarizing filter for the photo on the right.