Polarizing filter effects

The polarizing filter is an essential part of your photography kit

If you don’t have a polarizing filter in your camera bag, then you are missing out big time. It’s the one filter I and most other photographers just wouldn’t be without. But what does it do exactly? I’ll show you two great effects.

We most commonly use a polarizing filter in harsh light, typically later in the day when the sun is up high and the colours are starting to look washed out. It’s most obvious and well-known effect is to darken blue skies and add definition to clouds. It also boosts contrast and colour. The images below of a church at Kropa, Slovenia, illustrate this, both with and without the use of a polarizing filter. See how the sky is deeper blue, the clouds are more defined and the colour on the trees is warmer and more vivid.

Polarizing filter effects

Cutting out haze

Another, perhaps lesser-known effect of a polarizing filter is that it cuts out haze. This is how it makes blue skies look more blue. But this effect also works on mountains. Look at the two photos below of Jamnik Church in Slovenia:

Polarizing filter effects

See how the polarized image looks much better. It has eliminated the mountain haze and consequently the background is not only clearer, but the church stands out more against the background, and the image has more contrast as a result.

So if you haven’t got one, get out there now and add this great filter to your camera kit. I recommend these two makes. I used the Hoya Pro Digital circular polariser for these two images.

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Get the right size for your lens

Be sure to check the diameter size of your lens so that you buy the right size filter. To do this, look on the front of your lens for the diameter in millimetres. As an example you can see on the righthand side of the lens in the photo here is 77mm.

A Practical Guide to Photography basic techniques for beginners and beyondFor a more comprehensive look at other aspects of photography, check out my free e-book here

Join me on one of my workshops to learn how to use filters to full effect.

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Watch my video on how to use a polarising filter for skies and more defined clouds