When to Use Polarizing Filter & When Not to

polarizer

When is the best time to use a polarizer? When is it not right to use one? There are many times when it is ok to use a polarizer and other moments when it is not ok to use one. Knowing exactly when to and when not to use a polarizer is very crucial in photography.

Below, we help you understand when it ok to use and not to use a polarizer. To help you understand this, we shall take you through a few scenarios.

When to use a polarizer

polarized

One good thing about polarizers is that they solve most of the outdoor photography problems.

  • To cut down glare: You will find a polarizer very useful when looking to eliminate unwanted reflections.  For example, when you want to minimize the glare from the sun off the surface of the water.

By cutting down the glare, a polarizer not only makes transparent surfaces such as water more transparent but also allows you to capture appealing photos. This means if you are using water as a foreground interest, you will be able to capture everything beneath clearly.

You can also use a polarizer to eliminate reflections off of wet surfaces you might encounter in a landscape. For example, leaves or rocks along a body of water.

  • To reduce shutter speed: Most photographers are used to neutral filters. What they don’t know is that they can use a polarizer to get the same results. While a polarizer is not going to give the same light-stopping power, they are actually an excellent alternative.

waterfalls

  • To make cloud pop/ reduce haze: Polarizers come in handy in minimizing haze. They work by reducing the amount of ambient light entering your camera. They also add definition to bright clouds; hence your images are less affected by hazy skies. The result is a bluer sky with colors that pops.

cloud

When not to use a polarizer

Now let’s consider when it is not ok to use a polarizer.

  • When you want to highlight a wet surface: Not all the time you want to see through the water. Sometimes you want to use the reflection. For example, to give your images more depth and interest. In such a case, it is not a good idea to use a polariser unless you find the reflections are too intense.

lake

  • Low light situations: A polarizer reduces the amount of light entering your lens. So, if you are shooting in dim lighting, for example, when shooting at dusk or in heavy forested scenes, consider not using a polarizer. Again, if shooting in the night, remember to remove the polarizer as it will not work in your favor.

low light

  • When the light has an intense color: Want to capture the nice golden color near sunset? Want to capture more colors and light in the photo? Want to incorporate the gorgeous, color-filled reflected light off of any rocks protruding from the water when shooting sunset at a beach? Then avoid using a polarizer. This is because those colors will be reflected off of any wet surfaces in the image.

instense light

  • When photographing rainbows: Shooting a scene with a rainbow? Consider shooting without the polarizer for the rainbow to appear more intense and vibrant. Using a polarizer will make the rainbow less visible. Unless you want to minimize the appearance of the rainbow, always remove the polarizer.

rainbow

Conclusion

A polarizer is a great tool you will often need, especially when shooting landscape. While you need it at your disposal, there are moments when it is not ok to use it. Mastering when to use and not to use one can really help take your photography to another level. Hopefully, this article was helpful. Do you have more questions? We are here to help.

 

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