What Is A Polarizer Filter? When Not To Use One? For Portraits or Landscapes

What Is A Polarizer Filter?

If you are a photographer, you would have to know what is a Polarizer Filter. It has been considered to be one of the best and essential tools for the landscape photography.  However, some rules govern the use of a Polarizing Filters. In fact, using it in some conditions may end up producing awful results in your photographs unexpectedly. If you are confused about the how and where to use Polarizing Filter (and yes, where not to use it), we are here to provide you with a few inputs on the right usage of Polarising Filters.

What Is A Polarizer Filter?

If you are new to the world of photography, it could be possible that you are not aware of what a Polarising Filter is. Well, if you have been shooting landscapes, you should be mindful of the kind of havoc that direct light can play with your images. Polarizing Filter is an accessory that reduces the effect.

Related Reading: Best Polarising Filters for Canon and Nikon DSLRs

Technically speaking, a Polarizing Filter is a glass that has been specially adapted. When you turn at an angle to a light source, it will help you minimize the glare from the surfaces reflected. Most of the filters are available in the circular form so that you can fit it on any lens. These filters can address the sharpness and variance between the different objects. Removal of reflection and improving the contrast are a couple of features that would necessitate the need for a Polarizing Filter. In fact, they can go a long way in reducing the post-production efforts you may need to go through if you have not used a Polarizing Filter.

How Does The Filter Works?

The Polarizing Filters are available in different shapes and sizes. In fact, the circular filters are the most preferred ones – thanks to the ease with which they can be fitted onto any lens. The filters are available in multiple sizes so that it can be used on different types of lenses.

The working principle is quite simple enough. You can rotate the polarizing filter as per your requirements. This would be helpful in blocking specific wavelengths of the light. These wavelengths will thus be blocked and will not be able to reach the sensor. You can achieve the results of your preference by rotating the filter until you get the effect that you are looking for. The exact manipulation should be dependent upon the source of the light and your subject.

What are the Conditions that you Should not Use Polarizing Filters?

Well, that should have let you understand what Polarizing Filters are and how they work. They are indeed quite useful and practical for enhancing the shots you take. In fact, they reduce the glare of the reflected light. But, there are a few conditions that you may not want to use a Polarizing Filter. There are some occasions that the reflected light can produce remarkable results. Let us check out a few scenarios that you would want the reflective light in a better way.

Scenario 1 – Waterfalls

When you are shooting the wet rocks and waterfalls, using the polarizing filter can make the image a little dull. How about the scene when you would want a great damp look on the rocks? Using a polarizing filter can reduce the effect of the reflected light that would, in fact, enhance the quality of your image.

It would be advisable in such situations to take two snaps – one with no filter and one with the filter. We assure you that you will like the look without the filter. Of course, wetness on the surface can be quite reflective, but in some cases eliminating it can be destructive. If the humidity provides you with a slight reflection, it can be something that you would want in your shots.

Scenario 2 – If the Reflected Light has a Unique Color

Yes, we are talking about that ever beautiful sunrise and sunset views. If those views have the light being reflected on the rocks or any other object, it would advisable to avoid using a polarizing filter. Especially the light coming from the sun has a different color, it will indeed have a tremendous reflecting effect.

If the reflected light produces a different color than in the ideal conditions, not using the polarizing filter will provide a more dramatic effect to your shots.

Scenario 3 – If the object has a shallow light

Shaded areas should be a big No No for the polarizing filters. You can indeed follow a rule- when the sun has set, and the surroundings are getting dark, you should avoid using a polarizing filter.

That should be quite self-explanatory, we would guess. The Polarizing filter is used to reduce the intensity of reflected light. When you do not have light reflection, we see no point in using the filter at all. Some such examples can include heavy and dense forests, canyons, shooting at dawn or dusk can be a few prime situations you should go without the polarizing filter.

Scenario 4 –  Rainbows

Using a polariser filter while shooting a rainbow can have a devastating effect on the intensity. In fact, ideally – a rainbow is a reflected light in itself and thus using a polarizing filter can reduce the impact of the view you are expecting in your shot.

The Concluding Thoughts

Well, those should be a few ideal situations where you would not want to use the Polarizing Filter. Of course, Polarizing filters can be used in several locations and use them is bound to improve your performance as a photographer. However, having a good knowledge of when to use them and when to turn them off goes a long way in enhancing the quality of your masterpieces.

We assume the few selects scenarios that we have outlined in the above discussion should aid you in learning the right way to use polarizing filters. Not that this list is exhaustive in any case. The best idea you can opt for would be to shoot two images with and without the filter when in doubt. You can analyze the pictures, later on, to find out what suits which situation.

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