Here is why nature shooters use a circular polarizer filter. The image on the left side (of the image below) was made without polarization; the one on the right is polarized. See how polarization removes the reflections from the water and even the foliage, making the colors more saturated and the whole image more contrasty. If you want to shoot nature, use a circular polarizer for best results.
In the two pictures you will note that there is no direct sun anywhere. I shot these two images on an overcast day to lower contrast. Many people think that a polarizer does not work unless you have the sun in the sky. That is not true, as evidenced by my images. In fact, any time there is directional light -such as the overcast light shining down through the trees in this scene- a polarizer will work to remove reflections and saturate the colors.
One thing to be cautious about is to make sure that you are using a “circular polarizer” (abbreviations engraved on filter ring of CIR PL or CPL) and not an older linear polarizer. The older linear types can interfere with the autofocus system on a newer DSLR. Circular polarizers do not interfere with AF.
Also, be aware that a polarizer reduces the amount of light by from 1.5 to 2 stops because it allows only the transmission of light that is vibrating in one direction, meaning that extra exposure is required. Of course, your camera will compensate for the light loss and still make a good exposure. However, you may be limited to using a tripod when the light is dim due to the required slower shutter speeds.
Using a circular polarizer is a mainstay of nature photographers everywhere.
My pictures above show why. If you haven’t used one yet, now’s the time to try.
Keep on capturing time…
Editor note: The preferred brands of polarizing filters by advanced and professional Nikonians members are, in alphabetical order, B+W, Formatt Hitech, Heliopan, LEE, Nikon, Rodenstock, Schneider & Singh-Ray.
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