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Tips & Tricks

How and When to Use a Circular Polarizer

By fotosiamo on June 5th 2012

Circular Polarizer, when used properly, can help do something in your image in camera that you practically cannot duplicate in post, which is eliminate reflection in water to see what’s under the water. This is big for landscape shooters who wants to showcase the rocks and details underwater.

Brandy Creek Falls (Escape) by Eric Leslie

Brandy Creek Falls (Escape) by Eric Leslie

Eric Leslie explains in greater details on the usage of the circular polarizer and what he uses it for and what he doesn’t use it for. I do agree with him in not using it for darkening the sky because you really have to align yourself 90 degrees from the sun to get that effect or else you get an uneven darkening of the sky. Better to use a graduated ND filter or do it all in post off from either one RAW or a couple bracketed RAW files so you’re not limited in your composition.

The other benefit of the circular polarizer, he says is that you can bring back the contrast and saturation that is lost when shooting near any reflective surface, be it water or rocks. Take a look at the difference here from his example.

Polarized vs Unpolarized by Eric Leslie

There are several other usages that Eric goes into, so be sure to read his article in detail on How to Use a Circular Polarizer

You can see more of Eric’s work at his website,

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    i love circular polarizers! they are the most useful filter

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  2. Cypher

    Just got a Nikkor 14-24 f2.8. What are some good options to mount filters?

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