Make colours pop!

Six po­lar­is­ing fil­ters tested

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Truly multi-func­tional, the cir­cu­lar po­lariser is a favourite fil­ter for pho­tograph­ing in a wide range of sit­u­a­tions. Let’s start with the science bit, be­cause it’s im­por­tant to know what makes a cir­cu­lar po­lariser ‘cir­cu­lar’, and why it’s dif­fer­ent from a lin­ear po­lariser fil­ter. Both types con­tain a lin­ear po­lar­is­ing el­e­ment which, when ro­tated, can ab­sorb vary­ing amounts of po­larised light in a scene. How­ever, a cir­cu­lar po­lariser fil­ter has an ad­di­tional ‘quar­ter wave plate’, so that light emit­ted by the fil­ter is cir­cu­larly po­larised. This is nec­es­sary so that the aut­o­fo­cus and me­ter­ing sys­tems of D-SLRs can func­tion cor­rectly.

In land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, cir­cu­lar po­laris­ers are of­ten used to darken blue skies while giv­ing greater dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween ar­eas of clear and cloudy re­gions in the sky. They can also give greater colour sat­u­ra­tion and con­trast, while re­duc­ing re­flec­tions from non-metal­lic sur­faces. This can be a big bonus for cut­ting glare from wa­tery sur­faces and re­veal­ing the beds of ponds and rivers, as well as for shoot­ing through win­dows.

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