Cut water glare using a circular polarising filter.

It’s amazing when you put on a pair of polarised sunnies at the beach, the way the lens lets you see through the water so clearly. Polarised lenses generally have a chemical film composed of molecules that are aligned parallel to each other in a particular direction. Light that passes through the lens travelling in the same direction is absorbed. You can see this at work when you rotate a circular polarising camera lens – the sky will lighten and darken as more light is absorbed by the filter in a particular orientation.

Cutting out reflective light adds contrast, definition and colour to photos. The benefits that a physical polarising filter provide are difficult or impossible to reproduce in post-editing, it’s a must have tool when you’re shooting landscapes.

Orientating & fitting the filter correctly.

The Hoya Pro1 Digital MC PC-C filter is a great choice…it will set you back anywhere from $100-$199 depending where you shop but is well worth it. If you’re already using a protective clear filter, it’s a good idea to remove it when using the polarising filter. A stack of 2 filters can start to cause shadowing around the corners of your photos when zoomed out.

When you screw the filter on, you want to get it reasonably tight as you’ll need to rotate the outer edge of the filter when shooting. If it’s loose, the whole thing can unscrew when you’re trying to adjust the orientation of the filter.

Rotating the filter goes back to the parallel molecules, when you turn the filter it changes the light passing through your lens. If you position your camera looking at the sky and ocean and rotate the filter, you’ll see the sky darken and lighten, the water become more see-through. There’s no hard and fast rule, just turn it until you’re happy with the look of the shot.

TIP: Don’t forget when you change from landscape to portrait when shooting that the filter will be impacted. You’ll need to rotate the filter to match the new angle of the lens to get the same result.

The shot above hasn’t had much editing done, shows the vivid blue sky and water surface cut-through that can be achieved with a polarising filter.

Printing polarised photos.

Certain photos and printed mediums lend themselves to polarised water photography. The print below is on fine canvas, but these sorts of prints look amazing on acrylic and paper. If you’re looking for a great printer, we’ve had great results with Gold Coast Printing and Framing.

Next time the sun is shining and the ocean is looking beautiful, head down to the beach with your polarising filter and see what’s possible. The hardest part is deciding between taking photos or surfing.

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