Playing With a Circular Polarizing Filter (CPF)

Do you have polarizing sunglasses?  Polarizing sunglasses not only cut down on the amount of sunlight you see but will actually cut through glare.  When you drive into the sunlight, the glare on your windshielf sometimes is so great you can barely see the green light change to red.  You have a hard time seeing the child playing by the side of the road.  You have a hard time seeing because of the glare coming through your windshield.

I like wearing polarized sunglasses when I go bass fishing.  I will always remember the day I was fishing with a friend.  I wore my polarized sunglasses; he didn’t.  We joked about catching fish and the like.  Because of my polarized sunglasses I could see the fish swimming beneath the surface.  I outfished my friend and outfished him badly!  The next time he went fishing with me he had his polarized sunglasses!

Polarizing glasses cut down on the glare, all sorts of glare.  Photographic polarizing filters

photo 1

also cut down on glare.  They can dramatically cut down on glare!  I bought a circular polarizing filter last year but didn’t get a chance to play around with it until yesterday.  I decided to see the effects a polarizing filter had on my photography.   It’s called a circular filter because, after you screw it onto the end of your lens, you can adjust the polarizing effect, increasing it or decreasing it,  by adjusting the filter.

The first two photos are photographs of sunflower plants in my wife’s garden.  In these

photo 2

photo 1

photos, I am using fully manual mode.  There was full sun.  The settings are ISO 400, f/16, at 1/125.  The first photo is taken without the cpf; the second  photo is with the cpf.  .  Do I need to comment on the difference?

photo 4

photo 4, 5, and 6 are of cloud formations.  I wanted to see the effect of the polarizing filter on the sky.  The photo setting are, again, ISO 400, f/16, at 1/125.  I was surprised by the effect of the polarizing filter!

photo 5





photo 7

photo 6





Photographs 8 and 9 illustrate something.  I don’t know what it illustrates; I don’t know why it happens.  Photo 8 is of a group of kayakers.  As I  photographed the kayakers, I noticed that the photo seemed out of focus.  No matter how I adjusted the focus, it still seemed out of focus.  The distance was set at infinity.  In photo 9 I changed the camera angle about 90 degrees to take a “landscape” shot; this photograph was taken at the same time as photo 8!  Photo 9 was taken under identical conditions, at the same time, from the same location.  Photo 9 distance was also set at infinity.  After taking photo 9, I returned to photographing the kayakers with the same results as photo 8!  Why did this happen?  I have no idea.

photo 8


photo 9




Photos 8 and 9 were shot in shutter priority mode.  The setting for photo 8:  ISO 400, f/5.0, 1/250.  Photo 9:  ISO 400, f/11, 1/250.



I kept the circular polarizing filter on the camera at all times as I was experimenting with it.  I learned that the cpf is probably best used for landscapes; it can really increase the intensity of the sky and accentuate cloud formations.

I learned another thing about circular polarizing filters:  I have a lot more playing and experimenting to do with it!  I plan on experimenting with it around water and for landscapes.  I again want to try using it in situations like photo 8 and see what the results are.

My recommendation?  Get yourself a cpf and play around with it.  You’ll find that it will enhance your photographs!

Jim the Photographer, Manchester CT


About Jim The Photographer

I am a photographer from Manchester, Connecticut. My photographic interests are many and varied.
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