Guides and resources from LEE.
Polarising filters are used to manage light at wavelength scale, and if magnified could be a likened to a series of microscopic slats.
In use, as the filter is rotated, it either transmits or blocks the waves of light that are vibrating in particular orientations. When light from the sun bounces off a flat non metallic surface, such as glass or water, it becomes polarised - i.e. all of the reflected light waves vibrate in the same plane. This reflected glare can be removed by the polarising filter.
Rotation of the filter will be needed to find the optimum position of the Polariser. In photographic terms this can render water or glass transparent, and gives the impression of saturating colours in a scene, because much of the reflected glare from the subject is removed by the Polariser.
On a clear sunny day, much of the light in the sky is also polarised, and the filter will give a very strong blue effect when used at 90 degrees from the sun - any white clouds will stand out impressively.
In this video Joe Cornish explains why the Polariser is an essential tool for landscape photography. He gives tips and practical advice for using the filter in the field, and shows how it can be combined with ND Standards and Grads.
There are two types of polarising filter: linear and circular.
These terms do not refer to the shape of the filter, but rather the way in which the filter modifies the light waves that pass through it.
The type of filter required depends on the camera. If you use an autofocus SLR (digital or 35mm) in, for example, spot metering mode, you will need a Circular Polariser. This is because a Linear Polariser will interfere with the complex metering and AF systems of modern cameras.
If you use a manual focus camera, whether 35mm or medium format, you can use either a Circular or a Linear Polariser. If you are still unsure of the type of Polariser you require, check your camera's instruction manual.
This Polariser is attached to the filter system by an Accessory Ring (sold separately), which fits to the front of the filter holder. This allows the Polariser to be rotated independently of any other filters in the holder. It is the ideal solution for landscape photography, where a combination of graduated filters and Polariser may be required.
This Polariser slots into the filter holder, which is then rotated to achieve the desired effect.
This version is recommended for studio use, or when no filters are required in addition to the Polariser.
If using a polarising filter in conjunction with polyester filters, the Polariser must be placed in front of the polyester filters, not behind, otherwise it will not function correctly. This problem does not arise when the polarising filter is used in conjunction with resin filters.
Sometimes a fully polarised sky can appear overdone. Experiment with halting the rotation at around 45 degrees to the sun, rather than the full 90 degrees, for a more natural-looking result.
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It is possible to fit a 105mm accessory ring to the front of the holder, which allows a Polariser to be fitted and rotated independently of any other filters. It is also suitable for use with wide-angle lenses.
The Seven5 System features its own circular polarising filter. The unique clip-on design means it can be snapped onto the front of the holder and rotated independently of any graduated filters also in use.
The holder has been designed so that it is compatible with Compact System Cameras giving a portable and lightweight solution that's perfect for street photography and general picture taking.
Aside from the Polariser, the system includes a full range of resin and some glass filters, which are sized at 75x90mm.
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