Are polarizer worth buying? For landscape photography.

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
dsjtecserv Veteran Member • Posts: 3,744
Re: Are polarizer worth buying? For landscape photography.

Eliot Kramer wrote:

Reading the threads and trying to learn, would love to have more information, confused similar to OP.

1. In an environment with minimal/no glare/reflecting surfaces does polarizer do anything?

2. People mention that it cuts down 2 stops of light, wouldn't you be able to do so by halving the ISO, halving the exposure time, etc. I am assuming the aperture is selected based on creative needs and can't be changed? Not sure why exposure can't be reduced by other means and I guess that is my personal experience, never been in a situation where there was too much light, only not enough and I live in the southernmost USA with very bright sun.

3. So are they mostly for landscapes? The one time I tried doing an outdoor photoshoot with a model I got ok skies, not great, ok, but the model was horribly underexposed and unrecoverable in post. This was ambient light only, did not have off camera flash available to light the model separately and on camera was not powerful enough. Had to remove the filter and work without it. (Of course with blown out skies results).

I guess I am trying to figure out if saturated skies are possible without having a dedicated flash lighting the model? Or Photoshopping after?

As is common in discussions of the use of polarizers, you are getting advice that they work best or have the greatest effect 90 degree to the sun. That is only true for the sky. The light scattered from the part of the sky that is 90 degrees from the sun relative to the observer is most strongly polarized and thus the effect of the polarizer is most noticeable. But this does not apply to reflections from other (terrestrial) objects. The sun could be at any angle relative to the objects, or there could be no direction of the sun, as on a cloudy day, or there could be no sun at all as at night or indoors. So unless you are concerned about the darkening of the sky, don't worry about the angle of the sun.

In response to your #1, the effect of the polarizer is to reduce or eliminate strongly polarized light that is reflected form the surface of objects to be excluded. This allows the underlying color of the object, which come from  non- or less-strongly polarized reflections below the surface, the "shine through". This is how those surfaces can appear more colorful or saturated.

So for scenes where there aren't any such veiling reflections, the effect of the polarizer will be minimal. so, for instance, the look of a dry rock will not be affected much, but if you wet the surface of the same rock and view it through a polarizer, it is likely to appear to b much more strongly colored.


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