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Old Aug 6, 2007, 2:14 AM   #1
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I have seen there are adapters which allow me to use filters with my Canon A610. This summer, as always, I have trouble getting blue skies in my photos. The high sun angle makes it very difficult to get good light, and shooting early AM or late afternoon isn't always possible.

For instance shooting a road lined with pine trees, I will need to under-expose by 1/3 or 2/3 EV, to avoid blowing out the sky. The results can be pretty decent this way as long as the sky isn't too hazy. But if there is any haze the sky is a milky blue.

In other situations, such as a sandy beach with some trees, if I expose for the sand the trees come out dark, if I expose for the trees the sand will be overexposed.

So I am wondering if using a polarizer will correct these problems. I would like my skies to have a deeper blue and to reduce haze and reflections. Especially on Long Island we get lots of haze in summer. And will a polarizer work better than just fixing the levels in photoshop? An exmple would be I take a photo of a pond with pine and oak trees around it. The sky is a bit hazy and because of that has a brown cast to it. I go into the levels and reduce the shadow tones of red and green, and boost blue highlights. But this doesn't always work, esp if the sky is really mucky.

Ritz camera sells polarziers for around $20, are they any good?
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Old Aug 6, 2007, 5:24 AM   #2
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one of the points u made wont be overcome with a polariser and that is the problem with very bright and very dark area........easyiest way is to shoot two pics exposed for each area and then blend.

polariser will help get sky bluer and cut out glare.......i have a circular one that u turn on the lens so get desired result..so u can see shot normaly then as u turn it watch the sky become vivid.

the cost of the filters is minimal and they are worth getting and trying

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Old Aug 6, 2007, 11:29 AM   #3
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A polarizer won't correct your dynamic range problems. If there is too much difference between the dark and light areas without a polarizer you will have the same problem with a polarizer. There is a filter called a graduated neutral density that can sometimes help if there is a horizontal cutoff between the light and dark. Most of the scenes you describe wouldn't be appropriate for a graduated filter.

Most people meter for the highlights and bring out the shadows in post processing. Once you blow the highlights there is no getting them back. But you can usually pull up the shadows. You often get more noise than you would like pulling the shadows up, but it won't usually show on a small print and it is easily dealt with using a noise reduction plug-in.

A polarizer will often give you bluer skies and nicer cloud – sky contrast. But the polarization of the sky is spotty and it is dependent on the time of day and direction whether you will get much effect. I was never without a polarizer with film and seldom even carry one now. Even if one is in the bag I seldom use it for skies. It is faster in an image editor to get exactly the depth of blue I want and I'm not dependent on direction.

Polarizers are good to reduce reflections. I live directly on the water and take a lot of water shots. The water surface is different with a polarizer but not necessarily better. Foliage often has polarized reflections and you can sometimes get better foliage with a polarizer.

A LCD isn't the best way to adjust the polarizer. Especially if you are in bright sun, which is usually when you use one. Subtle differences can be hard to see when you rotate the filter. Get a pair of polarized sunglasses. When they are horizontal they should correspond to the indicator on the filter being straight up. Tilt your head until you get the best effect and set the indicator the same. It is easier to check different parts of the sky and become familiar with what is polarized and what isn't.

Get the sunglasses first and you can make a decision about whether a polarizer would be worthwhile for the camera. I've worn polarized glasses exclusively for the past ten years and still find myself tilting my head to check polarization effects. The polarization in sunglasses is the same as the filter and with the same intensity. I've seen some at Walmart for under ten bucks.

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Old Aug 6, 2007, 9:35 PM   #4
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As mentioned, polarizers can give you improved sky/cloud contrast, and help with haze. For the bright sky/dark land situation, if you don't want to blend multiple exposures for higher dynamic range, a graduated neutral density filter can be a tremendous help. It has one half clear, then gradually darkens in the other half. Used with the dark part at the top of the scene, it darkens the sky to prevent blowing the highlights. Some filter holders allow you to slide it up or down to get the transition where you want it without changing your camera angle.

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Old Aug 6, 2007, 9:48 PM   #5
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Sounds like I would need both filters, one for the tough contrast scenes (ND) and one for improving contrast in hazy skies (polarizer).

Generally if the cameras metering is blowing out the sky I just lower the EV, it is better to underexpose the shadows because I can fix it in photoshop.

From what it sounds like getting a polarizer wont cost too much so I will give it a try. ND might be an idea too, generally those sandy scenes have horizontal distinction between overly bright and overly dark.

I know dynamic range is better with DSLR's though because they have a bigger sensor, but I dont want to spend that kind of money and have to lug a big camera around.
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Old Aug 6, 2007, 9:53 PM   #6
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I posted an example here, this day the sky was hazy and the scene looks terribly washed out with dull color.


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Old Aug 6, 2007, 10:20 PM   #7
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Odds are that a polarizer would have made the sky darker blue. With 1/1000 second you wouldn't lose anything with the polarizer.

Maybe my standards are low but the exposure looks fine to me.

I hope you don't mind my messing with your photo. I'll delete it if it offends you. But this is why I don't usually mess with a polarizer. It couldn't have taken over 20 seconds to make the sky bluer. Select > Color Range. Click on some blue. Levels and bring the dark slider up a little. I find it more consistent and easier than attaching a polarizer, which you don't want always on the camera. I also did a defogging just out of habit – two clicks.

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Old Aug 7, 2007, 12:09 AM   #8
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That definately looks better. Still would like to try the polarizer though. In general though summer stinks for landscape photos. By September the light gets better with lower sun angles and hopefully clearer air.


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Old Aug 8, 2007, 9:15 AM   #9
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slipe wrote:
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Odds are that a polarizer would have made the sky darker blue. With 1/1000 second you wouldn't lose anything with the polarizer.

Maybe my standards are low but the exposure looks fine to me.

I hope you don't mind my messing with your photo. I'll delete it if it offends you. But this is why I don't usually mess with a polarizer. It couldn't have taken over 20 seconds to make the sky bluer. Select > Color Range. Click on some blue. Levels and bring the dark slider up a little. I find it more consistent and easier than attaching a polarizer, which you don't want always on the camera. I also did a defogging just out of habit – two clicks.
You bring out some good points to fix fogging(Haze) and bluer sky, but what about reflextions? Is this when the filter would come in handy?
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