Monday, April 7, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Back Off the Polarizer

Enjoy this week's Photo Tip by instructor Russ Burden. To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took an intermediate and advanced course with Russ and he has continued to be a strong source of encouragement and education as I have progressed in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

To learn more about how Russ took the following photos in this post, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Back Off The Polarizer
In scenic photography, one of the most commonly used filters is the
polarizer. Depending on the angle of the sun, it helps reduce glare
resulting in more saturated colors, it removes reflections from water
and other shiny surfaces, and it deepens a blue sky giving it more
snap and contrast. But it’s this last use where the filter can be
abused resulting in daytime skies that look almost black.

Photographers who shoot a lot of scenics look for sidelight to bring
out the textures and details in their landscapes. This results in
being at a right angle to the sun - 90 degrees. Herein lies the rub.
The closer to that 90 degree angle, the greater the effect the
polarizer will have on deepening its blue color. If the filter is
oriented to produce maximum polarization, it may result in sky
density that isn’t natural.

So how can one prevent this from occurring? It may sound simple, but
by simply studying the entire viewfinder while rotating the
polarizer, you’ll see its effect in the sky. At the point at which
the sky looks too dark, rotate the polarizer to back off its effect
to keep a realistic look.


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