Quite often I get asked by other photographers whether it’s worth the considerable expense of buying a Circular Polarising filter? I simply say that it’s a personal choice but in my experience it is. I will do my best to demonstrate by using this recent example below – shot yesterday in the Lake District.
Without actually going into the science behind the filter [as this is way to complex for me], simply put, the results of using this filter range from darkened skies, saturated colours in grass and foliage and the ability to minimise and sometimes even remove reflections in water and metallic surfaces.
The shots below show a comparison between an unpolarised shot and it’s polarised equivalent [taken directly afterwards] using a B+W 105mm Circular Polariser. Both shots were taken using the same set up and available light, but the unpolarised shot required a shorter shutter speed – as the polariser tends to cut out the amount of light reflected in the shot and therefore needs a longer shutter speed to record the same scene. In this particular instance the non polarised shot was shot at 1/3 second and the polarised shot was at 1/2 second. They have both been processed exactly the same way though for a true comparison using Adobe Lightroom.
The differences between the shots should be immediately apparent, but the main things to note though are the lack of sky reflected in the main body of water and also on the wet roof of the little structure [The Grot]. The polarised shot is much more saturated due to the removed reflections from the foliage, this allows more colour saturation within the shot. Finally, the longer exposure has also helped to soften the effect of the flowing water.
Below are two further examples of unpolarised v polarised. Again, processed identically in Lightroom.
Is it worth buying a Circular Polariser? You choose!!!