On my recent landscape photography trip to Washington state (here’s my post and some photos) and the Palouse area, we made a stop along the side of the road to photograph some canola fields. If you’ve never seen these fields in person, it’s amazing. They look like their glowing. While the colors you see on screen may look like they were boosted in Photoshop, anyone that sees them in the right light will tell you they actually look like this.

Well, as soon as I took my first photo, I realized this was a photo that was made for a circular polarizing filter. The clouds and colors just didn’t seem to pop like they did as I looked at them. Here’s my first shot.

(click to see larger)
MJK_0651

So I threw on the polarizing filter. As I turned the circular polarizer you could immediately see all of this detail in the clouds. It also gave the sky a deeper blue color and took the bright sunlit glare off the canola fields. It’s amazing when you see the difference and it’s one of the main reasons I always keep a circular polarizer in my bag. It’s just not something that you could recreate (well) in Photoshop.

(click to see larger)
MJK_0649

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
One quick warning. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should. One of the biggest mistakes I see with the use of a polarizer is over-polarizing. See, when you turn your circular polarizer you’ll see the sky and clouds change. The more you turn it, the more intense the effect becomes. My personal rule of thumb is to turn it full blast, then turn it back until you barely see the filter affecting the photo. Then I split the difference. If you don’t, you end up getting something along the lines of the photo below. For starters, the clouds are WAY too contrasty. The sky is WAY too deep of a blue, and it starts to take on this muddy yellow color.

MJK_0650

So next time you’re out there using your polarizer, resist the urge to turn it all the way. Find out what the max effect is, and then turn it the opposite way to reduce intensity.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend everyone!