PHOTO SKILLS: DOUBLE POLARISE
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…
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.
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.
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.
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)