Featured Tips & Tools

Using a Polariser Filter

Deepen blue skies, reduce reflected light and saturate crisp colours. In a world of post-production and photoshop, a polariser filter still has many benefits in photography.

Using a Polariser Filter

What is a Polariser filter?

Composed from two separate pieces of glass, a polariser filter blocks light waves of certain angles that are reflected into the camera lens. By blocking the unwanted reflected light, the camera is able to capture cleaner and crisper images.

Similar to when wearing a pair of sunglasses, a polariser filter will limit reflections from shiny surfaces and beautifully saturate colours. With a polarised lens, blue skies appear a deeper blue and clouds stand out in contrast to the background.

Lee Filters Seven5 Polariser Filter
Lee Filters Seven5 Polariser Filter

How to use a Polariser filter

It’s important to remember that polarisation is at it’s most effective at 90 degrees to the sun and virtually non-existing at 180 degrees. A simple way to achieve a near-perfect 90 degree angle would be to make an L-shape with your thumb and index finger, keeping your finger pointed towards the sun.

To set the correct polarisation, simple rotate the front glass element of the polariser filter while checking the image through the camera’s viewfinder. You will notice the polarised effect as reflections begin to disappear and the contrast between a blue sky and clouds will increase.

Tip: To really see the difference, take an image without a filter. Then attach the polariser filter, set a desired polarisation and take an image of the exact same scene.

Using a Polariser Filter
A Polariser filter will deepen skies and saturate colours

The benefits of a Polariser filter

  1. Reflections – A polariser is the ideal filter to use when shooting with water, glass or a similar shiny surface . It eliminates unwanted reflected light and glare, while also changing the colour of the surface – great for those deep blue seascapes.
  2. Colour – But limiting reflections, a polariser filter will saturate colours and make them more vibrant in the scene. For example, you may notice the foliage on trees looking greener than you would normally without a filter.
  3. Sky – Similar to shooting water, the skies can appear a much deeper and eye-popping blue than normal. One rotation of the filter can take the sky in a cityscape from a pale blue to a much more vibrant blue. Clouds will also improve in contrast, appearing to pop from the background.
  4. Protection – A polariser filter will also act as a handy protection for the expensive front element of the camera lens. Instead of dropping and breaking the lens, the filter will take the brunt of the damage. It is also common for photographers to use a UV filter for this.
Lee Filters 105mm Rotating Polariser Filter
Lee Filters 105mm Rotating Polariser Filter

Buying a Polariser filter

There are several types of filter available at our online store:

Circular Polariser  This circular filter simply screws in to the filter thread of the camera lens. Once attached, you are then able to easily rotate the front element of the filter to achieve the correct polarisation.

Elite Polariser – Part of our Elite Filter System, this filter screws in to the centre thread of the Elite Filter Holder. Once attached, the square filter holder can be rotated on the camera lens. Allowing for a precise level of polarisation, even when being used with other square filters.

Lee Filters – The award-winning Lee Filters polarisers have similar rotation effects when used with their correct filter system. There is the 105mm Rotating Landscape Polariser, Seven5 Polariser and SW150 Circular Polariser.

Find many more Tips & Tools at The SRB Blog today!

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