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Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.
Now, while there's not much to using a circular polarizer--you just turn it until the image looks right--there are still a couple of things to bear in mind. A lot of people think, I'll just put the circular polarizer on my favorite lens and just leave it there and then I'll always have it. I don't really recommend that because you're going to forget that it's there, and it's going to be set to a certain level of polarization, and you're going to take your shot and maybe that level of polarization will be good for your shot, maybe it won't, but you're probably not going to remember to adjust it. So it's better to put it on when you're in a situation where you think you need it.
The polarizer also is going to cut some light. Depending on how you have it set, it may require more exposure that could have serious impact on your motion-stopping power or your depth of field depending on what you're trying to do. You can compensate for that with ISO. It's not going to be a lot, but it's still something to be aware of, and that's another reason not to leave the filter on your camera. Depending on the size of your filter threads on your lens, the polarizer is going to be more or less expensive. So, you probably shouldn't expect to just run out and buy polarizing filters for all of your lenses.
You want to really think about when am I most likely to use this? If you tend to find yourself outdoors shooting more with one lens and another, then you might only need a polarizing filter for that one lens. Bear in mind that when you're working with wide angles, you want to be really, really careful about polarization, in fact, you probably don't ever want to put a polarizer on a super-wide angle lens. The reason being at super-wide angles, you can have a great variation from light situation on one end of the frame to the other. And so you could get a change in polarization from one end of the frame to the other, and that change might be visible.
It will actually show up in your image and be distracting. Now, you might find that it's hard for you to remove reflections even with a polarizer. Here we've trumpeted this great ability for it to make glass transparent and so on and so forth, but conditions have to be right. First of all, if the glass is treated somehow, if it's polarized, if it's tinted, if it's got some other process that's been done to it, you may not have much luck removing reflections with a polarizer. Also, angle of incidence, the angle that the light is hitting the glass and coming into your lens is really critical.
So you may find in certain situations you're just not getting results from your polarizer. When that happens, you can try moving around, but if you're really dead set on a particular shot, that may not be an option. So, the circular polarizer is not completely magic. It's not always going to do the reflection stuff that we've talked about. Still, it's a really handy thing to have in your bag because when it does work, it can be a real lifesaver.
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