(Last Updated On: June 16, 2019)

Use a Polarizing Filter

Next to a solid tripod and ballhead, the accessory every landscape photographer must have is a polarizing filter. Using one will darken the sky (thereby making clouds stand out), will remove reflections from water, plus it will make leaves and foliage appear less shiny. Color saturation is also enhanced. These effects cannot be fashioned with image processing software.

Why Use Polarizers? (free video)

Polarization displays maximum effect at ninety degrees to the sun. The farther your angle varies from this ninety degree angle the less impact the filter will produce. Because of this, extreme wide angle lenses (and stitched panoramas) often yield uneven polarizing effects across the sky. Also, since this filter blocks light, it will affect your exposure (which isn’t a big problem since most cameras meter the light passing through the lens). I’d recommend a circular polarizer over a linear polarizer.

If you want to significantly improve your landscape images, use a polarizing filter!

Digital Photography Tip: Polarizing Filter

What and Why

This image was taken by a Nikon D200 digital camera setting on a solid tripod while wearing a Tamron AF 17-50mm 1:2.8 Digital lens zoomed out to 42mm. A Hoya Circular Polarizer filter was used. Exposure was matrix metered with an aperture priority of f/11 coupled with a 1/500th second shutter speed along with ISO-200 dialed in.

Effect of polarizing filter on trees and sky to improve the appearance of landscapes - Sky is bluer and leaves are greener - Without filter on the left - With filter on the right

More Articles by: Steve Guymon, Outdoor Digital Photographer:
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Digital Photography Tip: Polarizing Filter
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Digital Photography Tip: Look Around
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  1. Filters are fairly universal and you choose one depending on the effect you want to add to your pictures. We recommend having some type of filter on at all times just to protect your lens. When you are looking for a filter you just need to make sure that it is the right diameter for your specific lens. There are a variety of lenses out there. Good luck!


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