Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units

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flyinglentris
flyinglentris Contributing Member • Posts: 658
Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units

I have read that a polarizing filter can be used with light units as a last measure to reduce glare from highly reflective subjects or articles associated with subjects.

That suggests that there are polarizing filters that can be applied to a Balcar mount or can be fitted to a Balcar mount via a filter frame.

I understand that the heat of a light unit can damage such a Polarizing Filter.

Buff does not offer a polarizing filter. After digging, I found there are linear polarizing film filters for speedlites that wrap around the flash head. I could not find a polarizing filter for use on studio flash units, except maybe, this rather expensive Tiffen:

https://tiffen.com/products/4-x-4-linear-polarizer-filter?variant=14209757675562&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping&utm_source=google-shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjOCtgZbv4wIVsxx9Ch0JcgATEAQYAiABEgJVU_D_BwE

It is a linear polarizer. It is 4"x4" and does not look like it would fit Buff's LiteMod Mainframe which I believe fits 7"x7" inserts. The circular hole through Buff's filter holders also looks bigger than 4" diameter.

Just found another 6.6" x 6.6" from Tiffen:

https://tiffen.com/products/6-6-x-6-6-linear-polarizer-filter?variant=14205674618922&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping&utm_source=google-shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_Lih8pnv4wIVGMZkCh2IxwlzEAQYASABEgL84PD_BwE

This looks to be a closer match for Buff's LiteMod Frame, but I don't know for sure.

Given that using a Polarizing filter ought to be a last choice for studio lighting, I am still interested in knowing what would be a best choice for a polarizing filter.

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robertfel Senior Member • Posts: 1,317
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units
3

I shoot reflective art work for a small museum. We cross-polarize, meaning circular polarizer on the lens and polarizing filters on the lights.

I use these and I don't use my modeling lamps. No issues with the heat from just the strobe.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/45130-REG/Rosco_101073001720_Polarizing_7300_Filter.html

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Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,762
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units
3

The first thing you should do is buy and read a copy of this book. Get the hard back or paper back book, not an ebook, so it will be easy to flip around in the book.

Amazon.com - Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting: 5th Edition - Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua

The usual lighting setup for art works like paintings is two diffused lights with sheets of polarizing gel filters outside the softbox. The lights are located central to and to each side of the painting at about 45° angles to the painting. The idea is to get good even lighting coming from an angle where most of the light will reflect away from the camera - the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence.

With 3D surfaces such as pallet knife paintings you may need to try different angles to get the least amount of reflections. If you want to get rid of every specular highlight you might even need to take multiple exposures and combine them with HDR or Luminosity Masking.  Don't forget that you might want to leave a few specular highlights to give life to the painting.

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,654
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units
2

flyinglentris wrote:

...

It is a linear polarizer. It is 4"x4" and does not look like it would fit Buff's LiteMod Mainframe which I believe fits 7"x7" inserts. The circular hole through Buff's filter holders also looks bigger than 4" diameter.

As has been suggested, buy a 17" by 22" inch sheet of Rosco Polarizing filter.

If you are using the Paul Buff LiteMod™ system, get a set of LightMod Gel holders. The Gel holders are just cardboard. Buy only one set. If you need more, use the first set as a pattern to make you own. If you like you can simply make your own gel holders out of rectangular cardboard, with a large hole in the center.

When you cut the large polarizing sheet to fit the holders, be consistent with the orientation. You want to be able to place gels in multiple lights consistent polarizing orientation.

If you are using Einsteins, don't leave the polarizing filter in place with the modeling light on. You will get a burn mark in the center of your polarizing gel. Slide the gels out when you want to use the modeling light, and back in when the modeling light is off. A few seconds of modeling light won't hurt, but if you leave the gel in place for a while, you will get a burn. I would also be hesitant to use the gel with an Alien Bee 150W modeling light.

Polarizing filters on the lights, and a polarizing filter on the lens is a very effective technique for reducing glare from highly reflective objects.   It can be a great tool for shooting artwork.

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flyinglentris
OP flyinglentris Contributing Member • Posts: 658
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units

robertfel wrote:

I shoot reflective art work for a small museum. We cross-polarize, meaning circular polarizer on the lens and polarizing filters on the lights.

I use these and I don't use my modeling lamps. No issues with the heat from just the strobe.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/45130-REG/Rosco_101073001720_Polarizing_7300_Filter.html

Nice. Cut to fit.   And wow!  The price is extraordinarily cheaper than the tiffen 6.6"x6.6" film filter.  Thank You.

BTW: Yes, I understand that the modelling lamps should be switched off when using the sheet linear polarizing filter.

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flyinglentris
OP flyinglentris Contributing Member • Posts: 658
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units

Sailor Blue wrote:

The first thing you should do is buy and read a copy of this book. Get the hard back or paper back book, not an ebook, so it will be easy to flip around in the book.

Amazon.com - Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting: 5th Edition - Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua

Already have the book and it is a source for my inquiry in this thread.

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flyinglentris
OP flyinglentris Contributing Member • Posts: 658
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units

Michael Fryd wrote:

flyinglentris wrote:

...

It is a linear polarizer. It is 4"x4" and does not look like it would fit Buff's LiteMod Mainframe which I believe fits 7"x7" inserts. The circular hole through Buff's filter holders also looks bigger than 4" diameter.

As has been suggested, buy a 17" by 22" inch sheet of Rosco Polarizing filter.

If you are using the Paul Buff LiteMod™ system, get a set of LightMod Gel holders. The Gel holders are just cardboard. Buy only one set. If you need more, use the first set as a pattern to make you own. If you like you can simply make your own gel holders out of rectangular cardboard, with a large hole in the center.

I just recently purchased the LiteMod Mainframe, some diffusion filters, the snoot and the barndoors, as well as the Gel Filter Holders.   So, I'm all set to use the Rosco sheet.

When you cut the large polarizing sheet to fit the holders, be consistent with the orientation. You want to be able to place gels in multiple lights consistent polarizing orientation.

I only have one LiteMod MainFrame at this time.

If you are using Einsteins, don't leave the polarizing filter in place with the modeling light on. You will get a burn mark in the center of your polarizing gel. Slide the gels out when you want to use the modeling light, and back in when the modeling light is off. A few seconds of modeling light won't hurt, but if you leave the gel in place for a while, you will get a burn. I would also be hesitant to use the gel with an Alien Bee 150W modeling light.

Understood.

Polarizing filters on the lights, and a polarizing filter on the lens is a very effective technique for reducing glare from highly reflective objects. It can be a great tool for shooting artwork.

Understood.

Thanks for your input.

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Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,762
Re: Polarizing Filter for Studio Light/Flash Units

Instead of cardboard you might try generic Coroplast, which is basically plastic cardboard.  The generic is dirt cheap, available in many colors including black, and for sale in most art supply stores, office supply stores, and school supply stores.

Cardboard may be a bit more heat resistant but plastic cardboard is stronger.

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