Polarizing Filters for Nature Photography

Great landscape and scenic photos feature stunning colors and depth.  If atmospheric conditions are not ideal, capturing these colors and depth is a difficult chore.  Adding a Circular Polarizing Filter to your lens offers a virtually instant fix and dramatically improves your photos.

polarizing filter
You’re looking out over a great scene.  You take the picture and realize the color you captured is not what you saw.  Why?  The culprit is most often excess glare from reflected light.  Glare off of the water, unwanted sky reflection off of foliage and haze from reflections off of water vapor or airborne dust reduces the contrast and color of your prized scene.

Eliminating the glare is simple: add a polarizing filter to your lens.  The filter removes glare from your photo exactly like Polarized sun-glasses remove glare from the road while you’re driving.

polarizing filter

How does it work?  A Circular-Polarizing Filter is a special glass that screws to the front of your camera lens.  The special element rotates in the filter to eliminate reflected light.  Once the filter is attached you look through the lens (camera viewfinder or LCD screen) and rotate the filter to adjust the axis or polarization.  Rotating the filter 90° on the lens controls the polarization effect.  Rotate the filter by turning the outer knurled ring and look for the sky or water to darken,  or for foliage to become richer and warmer.

The technical stuff.  A Circular-Polarizing Filter is most effective 90° from the sun; on the horizon during mid-day, looking north or south during sunset and sunrise hours and on subjects perpendicular to the sky under shade or overcast light.  A polarizing filter is not effective eliminating glare from metal subjects (i.e: chrome bumper).

A Circular-Polarizing Filter causes a 1.5-2 stop loss in light so it is not recommended for general-purpose use.   You can use a Polarizer in any camera mode and no adjustment is required.

polarizing filter

Which Circular-Polarizing filter do I choose?  Like most photo accessories you have a choice of qualities… bargain, good, better or best.  B+W, Hoya and ProMaster are the preferred brands and offer a choice in quality.  We recommend multi-coated filters for all digital photographers and thinner hi-tech glass and coatings for increased performance.  The ProMaster HGX Circular Polarizer to fit your favorite scenery lens is recommended.

You can browse our selection of polarizing filters online by clicking here, or stop by the store to speak with one of our photo experts.

Happy photographing!

Written by Mark Comon

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