What is a polarizer filter? How to reduce reflections in pictures of water

What is a polarizer filter: how they work

What is a polarizer filter? Find out how you can use this filter to reduce reflections in pictures of water and achieve stronger colours.

What is a polarizer filter? How to reduce reflections in pictures of water

Some images lack color saturation and contrast, and look a little insipid, because of surface reflections. Light bounces off the subject you’re photographing and produces glare.

This can be extreme, as is often the case when shooting water or wet surfaces, and the resulting light areas in the image reduce definition.

Our original shot, without a polarizer filter

Our original shot, without a polarizer filter

Unwanted glare or polarized light can also be a problem with many other subjects, such as foliage and blue skies, making them appear drab.

The good news is that these issues can be quickly and easily fixed by attaching a polarizer filter to your lens. This removes surface glare and makes colors really pop. Here’s how it’s done…

What is a polarizer filter: what you need

What you need
Polarizer filters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be either a solid gelatin filter that slots into a filter holder fixed to the front of the lens or a circular filter that screws directly on to the front of the lens. Both filter types work in a similar way and achieve the same results.

What is a polarizer filter: how they work

How they work
Polarizer filters work by blocking the unwanted rays of light from non-metallic surfaces. The amount by which they reduce this glare depends upon the angle of the reflected light. They work best if you shoot at an angle of around 35° to the reflective surface.

What is a polarizer filter: how to use them

How to use them
Approach your photo composition as usual and then rotate the polarizer filter while looking through the viewfinder until you see the glare is reduced or removed. There’s an optimum point of rotation where polarization is greatest, so you may need to tweak the position 
to get the maximum effect.

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