The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 19, 2022

Use a polarizing filter to enhance photos

My guess is that most of us at one time or another have topped a long hill or rounded a curve and there was a scene worthy of any calendar. There may even have been a sign indicating a scenic overlook turn-out, but for whatever reason, we buzzed right by. I can still remember Marg saying, “Take a picture with your mind.”

I’d like to suggest that we plan ahead a little more. Look at the route. Will such an opportunity possibly present itself today? If the answer is yes, why not leave a few minutes early and make sure you have your camera, extra batteries, wide-angle lens, tripod, and maybe a polarizing, and warming filter.

An example of how a polarizing filter can enhance color, sky and clouds by Rex Dolby

A polarizing filter, if used in a direction about 90 degreesto the sun, can reduce the glare on water, enhance colors, reduce haze, deepen the blue of the sky, create more dramatic clouds, and if the scene is really bright, it can be used to reduce the amount of light entering the camera.  Just rotate the filter as you look through the viewfinder to get the amount of effect you want.  It also enhances rainbows. 

If the situation occurs at sunrise or sunset, a warming filter may intensify the color of the sky or sun’s illumination on clouds, trees or hills. 

The thing to watch however, is the fact that a filter screwed onto the front of a wide-angle lens will darken the four corners of the image when the lens is at its maximum wide angle. This is called vignetting. Simply avoid it by watching your viewfinder as you zoom wider. When you see the corners starting to darken, zoom the other way till they are cleared. Another way to avoid vignetting is to screw a step-up ring onto the lens to use a larger diameter filter than the lens diameter.

What really impresses you about this scene? If it’s the sky, meter for it and make about two-thirds of the photo sky. If it’s the lay of the land, meter for that and make about two-thirds of the picture land. This is one time where you may want to emphasize vastness by not including a foreground. However, you might also include an element or two that directs your gaze into the picture. Taking the picture both ways could make you doubly pleased.

POSTED: 05/08/19 at 10:29 am. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News