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Thread: Fun with Polarizers

  1. #1
    SNC1923
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    Fun with Polarizers

    I took a rare solo ride through the Kern River Canyon (Hwy 178) this afternoon in search of some photos. What I ended up with was an object lesson in the many benefits of using a polarizing filter. If you're not familiar with them, polarizers are adjustable, dark filters that adjust the incoming light. They work best when photographing a 90 degree angle to the sun.

    First and foremost, a polarizing filter can be used to bring out the blue in the sky.







    I'm pleased to note that the self-cleaning sensor on my Canon 40D seems to be working quite well.

    A second benefit of a polarizing filter is its ability to saturate the image by reducing or eliminating reflections, in this case, on the water's surface.



    Kern River taken at 17mm (28mm equivalent)



    Kern River taken at 85mm (135mm equivalent)

    The third benefit of a polarizing filter is that it functions also as a neutral density filter. The dark filter reduces the amount of incoming light by two f-stops. This is true of all polarizers, though specific neutral density filters can be purchased in 4, 8, or more stops of density.

    Why would anyone want this? Sometimes you want to shoot something with a low shutter speed in bright daylight. You can lower the ISO to 100, and you can stop the lens down to f/32, but sometimes you need a little bit more. That's where an ND filter, or in this case, a PL filter, comes in handy.



    1.3 secs. @ f/32



    2 secs. @ f/32



    8/10 sec. @ f/29



    1/2 sec. @ f/29

    It should go without saying the four photos above were all taken on a sturdy tripod. A darker ND filter would have resulted in slower shutter speeds and a more "painterly" quality to the water.

    Click on any image for EXIF info.

  2. #2
    BMW MOA co-founder bmwdean's Avatar
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    Feb. 17, 2008 -- Nikon D300 & Hoya circular polarizer.

    The white 1967 R60/2 in the foreground causes the exposure to darken the sky even more.
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    Jeff Dean − Tucson, Arizona − BMW MOA Co-founder (1972)
    http://bmwdean.com − MSF Chief Instructor (1994)
    Friend of the Marque (1999) − Prof. Gerhard Knochlein BMW Classic Award (2013)
    2014 & 2007 R1200RTs, R60/2s, R67/3, R51/3 ↔ 1949 R24

  3. #3
    rocketman
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    Nice shots!

    I discovered the G9 has an ND filter built in, reduces the f stop by a factor of 2 (I think?0 I used it a few times on my recent trip for some of the really birght daylight high noon shots. I'll have dig those out when I get a chance.


    Love the water fall shots at slow speeds very nice effect.

    RM

  4. #4
    SNC1923
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketman View Post
    Nice shots!

    I discovered the G9 has an ND filter built in, reduces the f stop by a factor of 2 (I think?0 I used it a few times on my recent trip for some of the really birght daylight high noon shots. I'll have dig those out when I get a chance.


    Love the water fall shots at slow speeds very nice effect.

    RM
    I think it's actually a factor of 3 (3X). I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I was sure impressed to find it there. It's mechanical too; you can hear/feel a "thunk" when you deploy it from the menu. Pretty cool. . . .

  5. #5
    rocketman
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    Quote Originally Posted by SNC1923 View Post
    I think it's actually a factor of 3 (3X). I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I was sure impressed to find it there. It's mechanical too; you can hear/feel a "thunk" when you deploy it from the menu. Pretty cool. . . .
    So you have new toy in hand, eh?

    RM

    Toys are good!
    being able to afford them.....




    priceless

  6. #6
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Polarizing filter

    Anybody using one? Any thoughts on them? Use one for outdoors?
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  7. #7
    BMW MOA co-founder bmwdean's Avatar
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    Last edited by bmwdean; 02-19-2008 at 03:11 AM.
    Jeff Dean − Tucson, Arizona − BMW MOA Co-founder (1972)
    http://bmwdean.com − MSF Chief Instructor (1994)
    Friend of the Marque (1999) − Prof. Gerhard Knochlein BMW Classic Award (2013)
    2014 & 2007 R1200RTs, R60/2s, R67/3, R51/3 ↔ 1949 R24

  8. #8
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    Yes, use it almost exclusively outdoors. I love it for green foliage on rainy or overcast days. It takes away the reflections and deepens the greens. And of course, there are times I want a more dramatic sky, or more emphasis on the clouds, so I use it then, too.
    Dan

  9. #9
    SNC1923
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    It's an indispensable accessory. Far from a bauble or a gadget, it can have a profound effect on your images. Get one for each filter size you have among your lenses.

    You'd use it at the same times as you would tend to use a pair of polarized sunglasses. It works most effectively when shooting at a 90 degree angle to the sun. And it does all the things Dan outlined above. See the thread Jeff points to for a number of samples.

    I'm not sure if linear polarizers are even still available, but be sure you get a "circular" polarizer as it is what will work with your autofocusing system. Get a good one (Hoya, Tiffen) but you don't need to go crazy (B+W) unless you're a frantic like me.

    Nikon makes an awfully nice one. Theirs used to take a dedicated hood, too. . . .

  10. #10
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmwdean View Post
    Feb. 17, 2008 -- Nikon D300 & Hoya circular polarizer.

    The white 1967 R60/2 in the foreground causes the exposure to darken the sky even more.

    Nice photo.


    Nice tankbag.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  11. #11
    BMW MOA co-founder bmwdean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBasa View Post
    Nice photo.


    Nice tankbag.
    I think you have one of those too, right Dave?
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    Jeff Dean − Tucson, Arizona − BMW MOA Co-founder (1972)
    http://bmwdean.com − MSF Chief Instructor (1994)
    Friend of the Marque (1999) − Prof. Gerhard Knochlein BMW Classic Award (2013)
    2014 & 2007 R1200RTs, R60/2s, R67/3, R51/3 ↔ 1949 R24

  12. #12
    @ the Big Muddy & I-80 bluestune's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Outstanding Tom!
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    1976 R90/6

  13. #13
    1024JLC
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    Just be careful to not over saturate your photos...

  14. #14
    R12ST bricciphoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1024JLC View Post
    Just be careful to not over saturate your photos...
    Amen. Black skies on sunny days aren't cool.

    I use polarizers a lot. I use them occasionally indoors to minimize surface reflections, particularly if glassware is involved. The downside is you lose a couple stops.

    Also there are a number of polarizers that incorporate other filtration such as 81 warming filters, etc. They are nice too and save the effort of using two discrete filters.

    Lastly, if you purchase the more expensive polarizers/filters, you can use step down (or is it step up?) rings to use them on different size lenses as opposed to having many expensive filters waiting to get damaged/scratched in your travels.
    Ben Ricci

    Rides & Drives: '07 BMW F800ST Low, '07 Porsche Cayman, '06 VW Jetta TDI & '05 BMW R1200ST

  15. #15
    RK Ryder
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    In the last 35 years, each time that I buy a new lens, I also buy a polarizer filter for that lens. Used in the right conditions, it saturates outdoor colours, eliminates reflections and darkens skies, with both colour and black and whites images.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
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