Monday, July 29, 2013
Use A Polarizer On A Cloudy Day
Not just for blue skies and reflections, polarizers are ideal for improving color
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Why do you put a polarizer on your lens? Everybody knows the answer to this question, right? You do it when you want to make blue skies on sunny days look really deep blue. Oh, and you can also use polarizers to eliminate strong reflections, from window glass or even lakes and streams. Those are probably two of the most popular answers, but the truth is that, in my opinion, the most powerful use of the tool is much less glamorous—polarizers provide great color.
You see, both of those popular reasons—the blue skies and the bright reflections—are actually variations on the same answer. Because what polarizers fundamentally do is they eliminate reflections. They eliminate light that has scattered and simply don't let it through the filter and into the lens. So, when a polarizer makes a blue sky bluer, it's really eliminating scattered light from reflections off of moisture in the air and the atmosphere in general. It's cutting through the glare, and revealing the color—just like it does on a reflection on windows or a majestic mountain lake. This is what Polarizers really do, they cut through the glare. And that's why they deliver such great color.
One of the most common places to see vivid color come through is on trees and foliage. All of those shiny leaves reflect light, which means that while yes, you can see that a tree is green even on a cloudy day, you're really seeing a whole lot of glare and reflections, too. Put on the polarizer, though, and suddenly you eliminate those subtle reflections and the green of the tree leaves shines through—all the way to your camera, which sees reflections and color and anything else you put in front of the camera. So, you've got to be deliberate with what you show it. Polarizers can help you show your camera only the most important colors in a scene.