I did an online presentation last night for Singh-Ray on filter use in my photography. I have used their filters my entire career, and they open up creative possibilities I wouldn’t have otherwise. After the show I had a question from a viewer who asked ‘do you really need to use a polarizer in the field’, or can you do the same thing in the computer during editing. Fair question for sure, especially with all the attention given towards processing in today’s photography world. The reason he asked was because one of the main images I talked about last night was a bear image that is one of my favorite bear images ever (see above). And the answer is…yes, you do need to use a polarizer filter in the field or you will not get this image.
Polarizers have the unique ability to reduce glare, and reveal what is underneath. Take a look at the shot above. Without a polarizer this shot had a strong shine on the water, so much so I couldn’t really see the fish underneath very well. But by using my polarizer, the scene was transformed. The glare was eliminated, and the fish and river bottom were revealed. It is like someone turned on the lights. LR and PS can change color and luminance values of the water during editing, but they can’t show what is underneath the surface. A polarizer is a filter I never leave the house without; it can be a game changer in the field to improve or transform an image.
I use two polarizing filters from Singh-Ray. I use the LB Neutral and the LB Color Combo polarizers. The neutral version reduces glare and adds nice contrast to an image; it adds a slight cool tone to the image. I like to use this for many images, especially if I don’t want to saturate colors more. The LB Color Combo version does everything a polarizer does, but with the added benefit of punching up colors slightly. Both these filters don’t reduce much light, so you are not sacrificing a lot of light when using the filter.
If you wondering what filters to bring on your next trip, make sure to pack a polarizer. This is one filter that can transform a scene into a stunning photograph. Get out and take some images this weekend!