Polariser vs no polariser

I get a few comments from time to time regarding my waterfall shots, particularly about the saturation level and how much I have bashed it over the head in photoshop 😉 I had another great example from a few years back, however I was at a scene recently where the effect of the polariser was very pronounced and thought its a great example why every photographer should have this filter in their bag. There simply is no photoshop means to replicate it.

The attached images were shot at the same time (well one after the other 😉 ) and processed identically, ie I edited one (the non-polarised one) and simply copied the edit settings across to the polarised image.

As one can see the difference is very marked, the polariser has simply removed reflected oblique light in the scene which in reality results in the actual colour of the element being seen – there is plenty of Greek writing about how this works and there are volumes on this, a great cure of insomnia in my opinion. For me this is the biggest contributor for waterfall shots, it can at anytime of the day (at the right angle) turn a flat nasty scene into something half decent.
In this case, very little PS bashing was used 😉

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36 thoughts on “Polariser vs no polariser

  1. Great comparison shot and a useful post +Gerard Blacklock

    Worth mentioning too that a polariser on an ultra wide lens, say 17mm on a full frame sensor will give uneven results across the frame; if you're using it to get that deep blue sky effect you'll end up with a patch of deep blue that graduates to lighter shades.

    That said, it's a filter that I rarely remove from the front of my lenses.

  2. Thank you for this informative post and the nice photo! I just wanted to mention (as you no doubt are well aware of) that CPLs can be adjusted to intermediate rotation positions between the two extremes according to the scene at hand and artistic judgement.

  3. good info mate.

    The poly filter [as I call it] is also great for removing reflections for foliage. All landscapers—make that outdoor photographers should have one in the bag IMO, however care is needed when using UWA lenses and big blue skies

    great thread Gerald, pity more don't offer such simple tricks and info into their threads

  4. +Ian Browne
    Thanks mate, I like your coined term 'poly' 🙂 regarding tips and tricks, it's a catch 22 situation for me, there is lots of info out there already and I wonder whether its fruitful (for me) to add to the mix 🙂
    BTW i missed your edit on the other image, i'll be sure to check it out asap 🙂

  5. +Mark Lees
    very interesting list! thanks for the link, when i got mine some years ago i picked the Hoya's from a price point and also a slim style and interestingly enough they sit pretty well in the middle of the list linked!
    If I replace mine soon I think I will look at the Marumi DHG, they appear to do quite well and are pretty cheap!

  6. excellent on pointing out the differences. As a side note, looking at the two pics I do like how a polariser allows one to see the rocks under the shallow, flowing water, but find a downside in that it looses some of that texture in the flowing water. I do wonder what a blending of these two pics would result in.

  7. thank you +Mark Lees I am aware that a circular polariser is adjustable. My comment was more a thinking out loud, and as for the amount of time spent indoors at a computer, that is dependant upon the person and how they derive enjoyment from their photography. Also the level of blending I would be thinking the adjustment of the polariser wouldn't be able to do, thus blending would be my solution (doesn't mean it's right or wrong, just a preference)

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