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Polarizing filters

From: Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

Video: Polarizing filters

If you've ever worn polarized sunglasses, then you already know the dramatic change that can happen when you polarize light in front of a lens, and we're going to do that now with a polarizing filter on the end of our lens. Before we get to that, I want to say we're here at the new Visitor Experience at the Golden Gate Bridge. I've lived in San Francisco for 25 years, and they've just changed this. I've got to say it's remarkable, how cool it is here. The bridge has always been a thing that's a must see when you come to San Francisco, and now it's even better. They've got this cool new pavilion that's got a lot of really nice stuff inside, a lot of great history of the bridge.

Polarizing filters

If you've ever worn polarized sunglasses, then you already know the dramatic change that can happen when you polarize light in front of a lens, and we're going to do that now with a polarizing filter on the end of our lens. Before we get to that, I want to say we're here at the new Visitor Experience at the Golden Gate Bridge. I've lived in San Francisco for 25 years, and they've just changed this. I've got to say it's remarkable, how cool it is here. The bridge has always been a thing that's a must see when you come to San Francisco, and now it's even better. They've got this cool new pavilion that's got a lot of really nice stuff inside, a lot of great history of the bridge.

This was the bridge that couldn't be built, so actually the story of its construction is really cool. There is a cafe that's got much better food than used to be here. Really nice options. So this is definitely worth seeing when you come to San Francisco, and it's really worth walking at least halfway across the bridge. It's a really cool experience and they've got some guided tours and things you can do here. One thing you might notice about the bridge is it's orange. This is a great contrast against the blue of the water. However, the blue is really, really blue because it's reflecting the sky. One of the cool things you can do with a polarizing filter that you cannot do in post-production is control reflections.

This can be a critical thing if you are trying to shoot through windows, if you're shooting against glass, if you are shootings against reflective tables inside a house, that sort of thing. What we've got here, the problem is the water is really reflective. So take a look at this. We've put a circular polarizer. It's called a circular polarizer because it actually rotates. We've put it on the end of our camera and watch what happens as the polarizer is rotated. Pay particular attention to the water. Notice that it's changing color. We can remove the reflection of the blue sky, and get really down to just the green of the water.

And when we do that, the orange of the bridge really pops also. So, we're really changing the color of the entire scene, not an unrealistic shift, but making some nice distinction between the bridge and the water. And notice also the sky is getting a better gradient. Here are a couple of stills that I shot. Here's without the circular polarizer, and here's with, so same shot, with and without, we get very different results. Some other examples here, controlling reflections, this can be really critical to simplify your image.

If you've got distracting reflections, you can take them out altogether. Now, polarizers have another really handy use, and that's when you're shooting skies. You've seen a little bit of a change of the gradient of the sky when we were looking at the bridge, but if there are clouds in the sky, you can really make them dramatic, you can really make them punchy, you can really make them pop. Using the polarizer is very easy. You just stick on the end of your lens and turn it. And you can actually see the effects through your viewfinder whether it's an optical viewfinder or whether it's a live view screen. So, this is a really handy thing to have in your bag.

It's not an everyday item, but for times when you are finding your image hassled by reflection or when you've got really dramatic skies, and you want to punch them up, or if you've got skies that seem a little flatten, you could use a little extra drama, a circular polarizer is going to be a way to deal with all of those situations and to deal within the way that you simply cannot achieve in post-production.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

50 video lessons · 17942 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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