77 — Neutral density filters — Graduated neutral density filters — Interview with D. Wiggett

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #77 fea­tures an inter­view with Dar­win Wiggett where we talk about neu­tral den­sity fil­ters and grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters. Dar­win explains why we use these fil­ters and how to use these fil­ters effec­tively. We dis­cuss hard edge ver­sus soft edge, phys­i­cal ver­sus soft­ware fil­ters, we even talk about reverse grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters. For new­bie pho­tog­ra­phers that have just hatched, Dar­win goes over polar­iz­ing fil­ters as well.

Left - Screw on neutral density filter. Right - The Cokin system

Left — Screw on neu­tral den­sity fil­ter. Right — The Cokin system

Left - Lake with no filter. Right - Lake with polarizer and-2-stop hard edge grad. Notice how much poppier this shot is. The grad reduces the shyd intensity. The polarizer removes the waters reflections thus saturating its colours.

Left — Lake with no fil­ter. Right — Lake with polar­izer and-2-stop hard edge grad. Notice how much ‘pop­pier’ this shot is. The grad reduces the sky’s inten­sity. The polar­izer adds con­trast to the clouds in the sky and inten­si­fies its colour. It also removes the water’s reflec­tions thus sat­u­rat­ing its colours. ‚© Dar­win Wiggett

Left - Tire with Polarizer and-2-stop-hard-grad. Right - Tire with Polarizer plus a 2-stop-hard-edge grad and-a 5-stop solid-ND filter. Note the movement of the foreground brush. This was achieved by using the solid ND filter to get a slow shutter speed

Left — Tire with Polar­izer and-2-stop-hard-grad. Right — Tire with a Polar­iz­ing fil­ter plus a 2-stop-hard-edge grad and-a 5-stop solid-ND fil­ter. Note the move­ment of the fore­ground brush and the soft­ness in the clouds. This was achieved by using the solid ND fil­ter to get a slow shut­ter speed. ‚© Dar­win Wiggett.

The effect of a polarizer on its own. Left - No polarizing filter. Right - The circular polarizing filter lets you see through the water by eliminating the waters reflectivity.

The effect of a polar­izer on its own. Left — No polar­iz­ing fil­ter. Right — The polar­iz­ing fil­ter lets you see through the water by elim­i­nat­ing the water’s reflec­tiv­ity. With the reflec­tions removed, the colour is much more sat­u­rated. ‚© Dar­win Wiggett

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Seven Rules for Effec­tively Using a Polar­izer
Fil­ters, hold­ers and vignetting: build­ing a fil­ter sys­tem that works with your lenses
The Ter­rific Triple Threat
Fields of Gold (or was that blue?) Three Cam­era Fil­ters all Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phers Should be Using
Fil­ters for Out­door Pho­tog­ra­phy
January’s macro or close-up assign­ment on the Photography.ca forum
Cokin fil­ters at B&H (Dis­clo­sure — Aff links — help sup­port our site)
Singh-Ray fil­ters at B&H
Lee fil­ters at B&H

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Thanks to jack­la­bel, AcadieLi­bre and Mars observer who posted a blog com­ment about our last pod­cast. Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

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The truth about polarizing filters

The truth about polar­iz­ing fil­ters is that every pho­tog­ra­pher should have one in his/her bag at all times. It is pos­si­bly THE sin­gle most impor­tant and‚ use­ful photo acces­sory you’ll own. When there is light out­doors, this fil­ter is on my cam­era the vast major­ity of the time.

A CPOL (cir­cu­lar polar­iz­ing fil­ter) can be used any time you’re in the out­doors, espe­cially in the bright sun. It reduces reflec­tions, and deepens/saturates col­ors like a blue sky. In bright sun,‚ you’ll often get skies that are blown out if you don’t use this fil­ter. It makes the sky much bluer and richer look­ing in many cases with­out really affect­ing the other tones in the image. You will note the great­est results when the sun is low in the sky (so early morn­ing and later afternoon/evening). The CPOL will not help your color and sat­u­ra­tion much on over­cast days, or when the sun is high in the sky.

For more infor­ma­tion on this amaz­ing lit­tle gad­get, includ­ing a lit­tle insight into the ‘rule of thumb’ when using a CPOL, visit this link on polar­iz­ers in our pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Here’s a link from B&H where you can look at or pur­chase dif­fer­ent polar­iz­ers.
Buy­ing from this link helps sup­port our site.

Polarizing filters reduce reflections

Most peo­ple use polar­iz­ing fil­ters to reduce the bright­ness of the sky so that it does not get blown out. How­ever another very use­ful thing that polar­iz­ing fil­ters do is that polar­iz­ers reduce unwanted reflections.

This shot below by forum mem­ber Travis is an AMAZING exam­ple of the same shot with and with­out a polar­iz­ing fil­ter. The top image is shot with­out the polar­izer and the bot­tom image uses the polar­iz­ing fil­ter and gets rid of all the reflec­tions. Thanks so much for let­ting me use these images Travis!

polarizing filters reduce reflections

polar­iz­ing fil­ters reduce reflections

3 other links on our forum that talk about how to use polar­iz­ers
Travis’s orig­i­nal post
Neu­tral gra­di­ent fil­ter — also talks about polar­iz­ers
Fil­ters — also talks about polar­iz­ing fil­ters and other filters