How do polarising filters work?

The top quality of the visuals in your photograph depends to a large extent on the way in which your camera manages light. Natural light travels in the form of a wave, vibrating in a variety of different directions, and is said to be unpolarised. When it hits any surface with a shine (except a mirror or a metallic surface), the light gets reflected along a single direction and is said to be polarised. A polarising filter act like a sieve that selects only the light rays that vibrate in a particular direction and allow them to pass through. As a result of this filtering action, when you rotate a polariser filter, you can block out the undesired reflection. This provides you an image that is an accurate image of the precise colour, pattern and fine details on the reflecting surface.

Which style of polarising filter to use?

Polarising filters are of two categories: linear and circular. Although both function in the same way, they differ in their ability to operate with particular lenses. A linear polarising filter works best with conventional manual focus cameras. If you use it with a modern DSLR, the way this filter treats the light affects the working of the DSLR's light metering and auto focus sensor systems. For a current DSLR, use a circular polariser because this is designed to exert its light sieving action without interfering with the light metering and auto focus actions.

What are the advantages of a polarising filter?

Using a polarising filter can make a big difference to the images you capture, especially outdoors, because of the following reasons:

• It helps you to capture an enriched, almost ink-blue image of skies that are actually pale blue by aiming your lens in a direction at a 90-degree angle from the sun.

• It removes unwanted reflections that limit the clarity of the image. For example, you will find it removes those irritating reflections on surfaces such as water or glass.

• It reduces glare and provides more detail to your shots of landscapes.

• It creates an additional protective layer between the lens and anything in the outside environment that may damage the lens.

When to use a polarising filter?

Of all DSLR lens filter types, the polarising filter is the ideal to use when photographing particular things such as:

• Sky: The polarising filter turns a pale blue sky to a vibrant blue hue. If you are shooting in a city, it takes away the haze that otherwise appears in the photographs and thus, avoids a blurred effect.

• Water: Using a polarising filter to shoot through or underwater, it entirely changes the color of the water, giving it a bright blue hue besides getting rid of glare and haziness.

• Foliage: A polarising filter removes reflections to such a great extent from foliage that the images you obtain are brighter in colour and more vibrant.

• Other surfaces: When you focus on your brand new car or out of the window glass of your home, using a polarising filter will reduce glare and reflections from these surfaces.

In other words, if you do a lot of outdoor shootings and wish to capture images that convert into vibrant photographs to wow your audience, use a camera lens filter of the polarising type.

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Author's Bio: 

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