Have you ever noticed that the images from last weekend’s beautiful location turn out hazy and dull? Well, you might need to take another look at how that light was interacting with the things all around us. Have no fear, the circular polarizer, like my personal favorite Tiffen model here, is your answer.
Let’s get scientific for bit, shall we? The visible light from the sun, reflected on non-metallic objects, becomes polarized. Take a look at the glare on windows and water and you’ll see the dramatic effect of this polarization. The electrons in the air molecules also serve to scatter and reflect the light in all directions, resulting in the haze in last weekend’s images. In case you were wondering, because of the electromagnetic nature of the light waves, light reflected off metallic surfaces is not polarized. Whew…my head hurts a little.A circular polarizer screws into the threads on the front of your lens and has a free spinning ring that frames the filter. This allows you to adjust the polarizer to absorb the perpendicular light waves. These are the culprits for that hazy blue sky in your image. As an added benefit, a polarizer tends to improve overall color saturation in your image. Here’s an example of landscape photography from the fine folks at Tiffen.
For those of us who always strive for in-camera results, saving editing time, you’ll be happy to read that your camera does not capture the degree of polarization. So there are no software filters that can recreate the effects given to you by the circular polarizer. Here’s another example of the need to get it right, with the right equipment, during the shoot.The amazing Gina from Phoenix, Az, was one of my favorite examples of the Tiffen, combined with some awesome off-camera lighting thanks to Zach and Jody Gray’s workshop, resulting in a killer in-camera portrait. In-camera, as in more time not spent in front of the computer editing and actually having a life. (In the interest of honesty…I did have to sharpen a bit in Lightroom, so it’s almost in-camera)
So when you’re in front of the lens and you see your photographer throwing on something that looks like your sunglasses for their camera, just know that there is going to be all kinds of dramatic awesome in your inbox soon.
Have fun everybody…Sean