Tutorials &Technique

Polarized Postcard from Cape Breton, NS

Cabot Trail, 2012. No Polarizer.

Cabot Trail, 2012. Singh Ray Warming Polarizer.

I put a note out on Twitter last night that I loved my Singh Ray warming polarizer so much I might never take it off my lens. I was asked some questions, so I thought I’d drop a line at the same time. Our time on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia was amazing, and though it made for a long day, I had lots of time to trudge around with tripod and snowshoes and take in the beauty. The shot above was one of my sketch images, but I’m showing it here because I have identical frames that differ only in my use of the polarizer. I’ve developed them the same, which is very little, and with no dodging or burning. The differences you see are entirely the result of the polarizer.

Polarizers can make skies really blue (blue skies, not grey and cloudy ones, they stay just grey and cloudy :-) ). Most people know that, but if you only use a polarizer for that you’re missing out and you might as well just use Photoshop or Lightroom to do the same thing. What polarizers do that Lightroom and Photoshop can’t, is get rid of reflections on surfaces like water, leaves, wet streets. It’s an aesthetic affect, and as I’ve said before, the look of the photograph is everything, so anything that changes the look, is a potential tool in the visual toolbox. In the case of the image above, the loss of reflection on the water (in this case, the reflected sky) significantly darkens the water, making it a stronger ribbon of darkness (10 points if you get that Canadian reference) and allowing the rocks under the surface of the water to show more strongly, revealing underwater texture. Like any tool, it’s not a cure-all for a bad photograph, and it won’t make every photograph better, but wielded well, it’s indispensable.

A couple more days in Nova Scotia, then we begin driving towards Vancouver, about 7500 kilometers.

Aug 15th


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CategoryPosted in: GEAR, Travel, Tutorials &Technique

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