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11-05-2009, 12:03 AM   #1
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Circular Polarizer effects on water

Hi folks.
I find my circular polarizer filter to be invaluable for reclaiming blue skies and cutting distracting reflections from windows, eyeglasses, drinking glassware, etc...

There are also times where you may choose not to use it, and I found this example that I shot from a walk in the park, where i had the CPL mounted and applied minimal effect vs max effect just to see how it works on water reflections. I thought you might find it useful.



OK, nobody ding me on composition- i was participating in the JDRF diabetes walk and had my camera and was snapping anything and everything along the way. The camera is a K10D with DA 16-45 and Hoya CPL.

On the left, i minimized the effect of the CPL and you see the water reflection is strong and mirror-like. This reflection also picks up the blue of the sky which is very nice. f/5.6, 1/500th sec, ISO100

On the right, i rotated the CPL 90 degrees [correction made] to maximize the filtered effect. The water loses its reflectivity and you can actually see the greenish color as well as some debris beneath the surface, yuck! Also, the nifty reflected image of the front bird is lost, as well as the concentric circles which give motion to the water. And, because there is less light reflected into the camera sensor from the water, the camera slowed the shutter slightly, to 1/350th sec and the overall contrast of the image is increased (f/5.6, ISO100).

There are obviously situations in which you would want to eliminate water reflections to see below the surface such as when photographing fish or swimmers, etc. This is not one of them.


Last edited by mikeSF; 11-05-2009 at 09:02 AM.
11-05-2009, 12:29 AM   #2
Damn Brit
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Which image is truer to life Mike?
11-05-2009, 12:43 AM   #3
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I believe non-CPL'd images are always truer to life unless you are wearing polarized sun glasses
11-05-2009, 12:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
Which image is truer to life Mike?
A photo doesn't have to be true to life, it's what the photographer sees or rather what the photog wants the viewer to see which is important in my opinion.


Great example of what a polarizer can accomplish!

11-05-2009, 01:00 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
I believe non-CPL'd images are always truer to life unless you are wearing polarized sun glasses
i am inclined to agree with this.
11-05-2009, 01:18 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by StarDust Quote
A photo doesn't have to be true to life, it's what the photographer sees or rather what the photog wants the viewer to see which is important in my opinion.


Great example of what a polarizer can accomplish!
That doesn't answer my question though, I was asking out of interest.
11-05-2009, 06:58 AM   #7
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One also doesn't have to use a polarizing filter at full effect. All you've shown is that if you overdo something, it can get pretty ugly.
This isn't anything new.
11-05-2009, 07:36 AM   #8
emr
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Interesting comparison, thanks. But I'm a bit confused as I (the permanent newb) thought that circular polarizers are the same in every rotational direction and that linear polarizers act differently in different positions. Are all CPLs like this?

11-05-2009, 07:41 AM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
i rotated the CPL 180 degrees to maximize the filtered effect
You probably mean "by 90 degrees"... 180 degrees is the same as not moving the polarizer at all.
11-05-2009, 08:08 AM   #10
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thanks for this posting.... i've got to use my cp's more... my 'take' on photography has been to accurately reflect what i would like to convey to those who view my pics... that's my personal (artistic bent) goal.... many like to express their creativity in different ways, and some of the results are magnificent.... beauty is in the eye of the beholder.... some prefer absolute realism, while many others appreciate the impressionism ... to each his own...
this forum is a marvelous venue for exhibiting both schools of thought, and appreciated...
i have now stepped down from my soapbox... lol....
11-05-2009, 08:43 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
One also doesn't have to use a polarizing filter at full effect. All you've shown is that if you overdo something, it can get pretty ugly.
This isn't anything new.
uh, "pentax beginner's corner"...hello?
11-05-2009, 08:47 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
You probably mean "by 90 degrees"... 180 degrees is the same as not moving the polarizer at all.
whoops, change that to 90 degrees.
11-05-2009, 08:50 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
Which image is truer to life Mike?
the one on the left (without filtering) was truer, as my mortal X-ray vision could not penetrate the surface of the water to see the green stuff underneath.
11-05-2009, 09:00 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
Which image is truer to life Mike?
A polarizer does what "fishermen's sunglasses" do. What you see with your naked eye is the glary surface of the water. The polarizer takes away the glare and allows you to see into the water. So the image with the sun reflecting off the surface is truer to life, and also the more interesting to me. If there was a big trout under the ducks, I might prefer the CPL version.
11-05-2009, 09:01 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by emr Quote
Interesting comparison, thanks. But I'm a bit confused as I (the permanent newb) thought that circular polarizers are the same in every rotational direction and that linear polarizers act differently in different positions. Are all CPLs like this?
my understanding is that a circ pol IS a linear polarizer to which another element has been added (called a quarter wave plate). The effects of the quarter wave plate are needed by DSLRs for proper metering and even auto focusing. other than that, with both, you rotate them to achieve the desired degree of effect, from minimal to maximum (90 degrees).
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