WANT to make your CAR pho­tog­ra­phy STAND out From the Av­er­age snap­shot? Au­to­mo­tive pho­tog­ra­pher JOR­DAN But­ters shares one Great tech­nique to try. GRAB your Cir­cu­lar po­lariser…

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

Want your car pho­tos to stand out? Jor­dan But­ters shares one pro tech­nique in­volv­ing clever dou­ble po­lar­i­sa­tion…

If you’re go­ing to buy just one fil­ter for your pho­tog­ra­phy, no mat­ter what type of sub­ject you like to shoot, make it a cir­cu­lar po­lariser. The CPL is, by far and away, the most use­ful and ver­sa­tile of all fil­ters.

The light that is re­flected from non­metal­lic sur­faces, such as wa­ter and fo­liage, is po­larised. Po­lar­is­ing fil­ters, when used cor­rectly, block this po­larised light from reach­ing the im­age sen­sor. They also have the ef­fect of dark­en­ing and ad­ding con­trast to blue skies, as some of the light from the sky is also po­larised due to elec­trons in the air re­flect­ing di­rect light from the sun.

Cir­cu­lar po­laris­ers are threaded fil­ters that ro­tate, and they work by the user turn­ing the fil­ter to block the po­larised light com­ing from dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions – their ef­fect is most pro­nounced in land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy when used at 90° to the sun. A handy trick for find­ing the most ef­fec­tive di­rec­tion to see the ef­fects of a CPL is to form an ‘ L’ shape with your fore­fin­ger and thumb. Then, point your fin­ger at the sun and ro­tate your hand – point­ing your lens in any di­rec­tion that your thumb is point­ing at will demon­strate the full power of a CPL.

Po­laris­ers aren’t only for use in land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, how­ever. In fact, in the world of au­to­mo­tive pho­tog­ra­phy they’re one of the most use­ful ac­ces­sories you can own. As cars are multi- an­gu­lar boxes of shiny painted sur­faces and glass, they re­flect ev­ery­thing in the world around them. Per­fect – you might think – you can re­ally show off how a clean and re­flec­tive a car is! How­ever this is counter- pro­duc­tive as re­flec­tions mask a car’s shape and lines, and can highlight dis­tract­ing el­e­ments in the sur­round­ings. you might also won­der why you should bother with a CPL when most cars are made from metal and metal­lic sur­faces don’t re­flect po­larised light. This would be cor­rect for bare metal, but on painted cars the light isn’t re­flected by the metal but the painted sur­face, so it’s still po­larised.

1 check

the CPL ef­fec t Us­ing a CPL is sim­ple: you fit the fil­ter and ro­tate it un­til you see the de­sired ef­fect – no­tice in the im­age above how there are lots of dis­tract­ing re­flec­tions on the side of the car, and the wind­screen is all glare? We want rid of that! How­ever, be­cause the top and side of the car are re­flect­ing po­larised light at dif­fer­ent an­gles, it’s im­pos­si­ble to re­move re­flec­tions from the wind­screen as well as the side of the car at the same time. 2 c amer a set tings This is where dou­ble po­lar­is­ing comes in – we’re go­ing to cap­ture two ex­po­sures, the only dif­fer­ence be­tween them be­ing the an­gle of po­lar­i­sa­tion. Lock your cam­era on a tri­pod – we’ll need to blend two ex­po­sures to­gether, so it’s im­por­tant that there’s no cam­era move­ment be­tween frames. Then, se­lect aper­turepri­or­ity mode and a low ISO rat­ing. Choose a mid aper­ture – be­tween f/ 5.6 and f/ 8 is per­fect – for front- to- back sharp­ness.

3 Shoot

the fir St e xpo­sure Fo­cus on the front of the car and lock to man­ual fo­cus to pre­vent the AF from hunt­ing. Once done, turn the CPL so that the re­flec­tions on the wind­screen, bon­net ( when present!) and top of the car are blocked. Take your first shot and check the ex­po­sure – de­pend­ing on the colour of the car you may need to ad­just ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion if there’s un­der- or over­ex­po­sure at play. If so, ad­just and reshoot un­til you’re sat­is­fied.

4 Dou­ble

pol arise With­out mov­ing the cam­era, care­fully turn the CPL so that this time the re­flec­tions on the side of the car are blocked. Cap­ture this ex­po­sure and check the re­sult. Flick back and forth be­tween your two ex­po­sures to make sure they look sim­i­lar ( ex­cept for the re­flec­tions, ob­vi­ously), to check that the cam­era hasn’t moved and to be sure ex­po­sures are about the same. All done? Turn the page to find out how to blend them to­gether.


Cam­era: Nikon D750 / Lens: Lens: Nikkor AF- s 24- 70mm F/ 2.8G / Fil­ters: He­liopan 105mm CPL

No more glare By sim­ply com­bin­ing two dif­fer­ently po­larised ex­po­sures, you can cap­ture su­per clean car images with ease. Ex­po­sure: 1/ 100sec at f/ 8 ( ISO 100)

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