Photography Tutorials and Articles

Polarizing Filter – Digital Photography

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The benefit of a Polarizing Filter in digital photography

What kind of filters do I need to use in my digital photography?

This is a popular question often asked by students in my digital camera workshops. I thought it would be an interesting topic for our Photo Tip.

For a moment let’s pretend that we live in the ‘pre-digital’ era when we had film as our media to capture an image. The sensitivity of film to light, the type of colour (Negative or Slide) or monochrome (Black and White) and colour temperature were set by manufacturers and we could not change any of them unless we changed the film type. It was important – at that time – to know the filters and their effects on your photos. Thanks to digital technology, we have control over almost all of these variables just by understanding digital camera settings such as ISO, White Balance, Styles, etc.

In Part One of a discussion on filters, I am going to discuss the Polarizing Filter and its effect.

What is a Polarizing Filter?

Polarize filters, just like polarized lenses, remove most of the reflections from the scene and result in a sharper and more saturated image. The following examples clearly demonstrate how a polarizing filter can improve the image.

Without Polarizing Filter

polarizing filter
No polarizing filter in this image

With Polarizing Filter

polarizing filter
By using Polarizing Filter you can reduce the haze and add more saturation to colours

Comparison

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With polarizing filter (right) compare to without polarizing filter (left)

What kind of Polarizing Filter do you need?

With auto focus lenses you should choose a Circular Polarizing filter. Polarizing filters are usually dark and consist of two parts. By rotating the outer ring you can adjust the direction of polarizing.

A polarizing Filter

Polarizing Filter
The high quality polarizing filter is the best investment

Can I use editing software to create Polarizing Filter effect?

The short answer is: No, I don’t recommend it. When there are reflections or glare in an image, you need to recreate all the data in those areas. And this is a painstaking job!  I recommend investing in a high quality Polarizing Filter; this will allow you to get the best results, spend less time on the computer and be out enjoying photography more.

Without Polarizing Filter

Polarizing Filter
No Polarizing Filter. Notice the reflection on the desk that makes the colours faded and overall dark photo

With Polarizing Filter

polarizing filter
Just by adding a polarizing filter, the reflection is removed and more colours and sharpness were added to the image

That is all for now. Stay tuned for more articles and useful tips in digital photography. As always we love to hear from you. Please send us your questions and comments.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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