You see epic photos of landscapes online and in magazines and wish that your photos had the same kind of impact.The problem is, you don’t know where to begin regarding how to add drama to your landscape photos.Granted, creating an image that has tons of visual impact requires a lot of moving parts, but there’s one thing in particular that can really help improve your images.
What is a Polarizer?
Quite simply, a polarizer like the one shown above by Formatt-Hitech minimizes how much reflected light reaches your camera’s sensor.
In other words, it works to help your camera capture images that have more crispness and clarity because the polarizer reduces glaring light as well as atmospheric haze.
Think of a polarizer like a pair of sunglasses for your camera – just like polarizing sunglasses minimize glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces, so too does a polarizer for your camera’s lens.
Likewise, a polarizer deepens the blue color of the sky while also making the clouds pop. This gives much more life and dimension to the sky that adds that dramatic effect you often see in professional landscape photos.
Using a Polarizer
There’s really not much to using a polarizer to get improved landscape photos.
Simply attach the polarizer to the end of your lens and then rotate the polarizer in its housing to achieve the desired effect.
As you rotate the polarizer, look into the camera’s viewfinder and you will see it do its work.
For example, if when you begin there is glare from the sun off of a body of water, watch as you turn the polarizer and that glare disappears.
A polarizing filter works best when the sun is at a 90-degree angle. If the sun is directly behind you, the filter will not have any effect at all. At points between those two extremes, the filter’s power will vary.
That means that you need to strive to find a shooting position that puts the sun at or near a 90-degree angle, otherwise you won’t be able to get the full power of polarization out of your filter.
Naturally, you won’t always be able to position yourself in such a way, but try to get as close to a right angle as you can. In the image above, you’ll notice how the sun isn’t at a 90-degree angle, yet the filter is still able to increase the contrast in the sky for a punchy look.
Problems With Polarizers
Adding a polarizer to your lens isn’t without a couple of issues that you need to think about.First, though a polarizer isn’t especially dark, it will still reduce how much light enters the lens and reaches the camera’s sensor.In fact, some polarizers will reduce the amount of light by up to two or three stops.That means you’ll need to compensate for less light by adjusting your camera’s exposure settings.
For example, if you’re shooting with your camera mounted on a tripod, you can use a slower shutter speed by a couple of stops to brighten the image up.Similarly, you can open the aperture to allow more light to enter the lens. You can also boost the ISO setting to make the camera’s sensor more sensitive to light.Of course, you can also use a combination thereof to increase the brightness of the shot while minimizing the visual effects of a slower shutter, a wider aperture or a higher ISO.
Another key point to remember is that you should focus the shot before you rotate the polarizer.That will help your camera’s autofocus system to find its focus point, or, if you’re focusing manually, you’ll have an easier time seeing with the polarizer at its minimum strength.Naturally, since polarizers reduce the amount of light entering the lens, they are not ideally suited for shooting in low-light situations.However, if you’re shooting at dusk and there’s glare or haze in the shot, you can use a polarizer – the process just becomes a little more difficult.That’s because you have to work a little harder to find the combination of exposure settings to get a well-exposed image.