View Full Version : Polarizing Filters in the Field for B&W

Michael Kadillak
5-May-2006, 17:18
A couple of weeks ago I lost my sun glasses and the replacement pair I acquired happened to be graced with polarized lenses. The following week while in the field shooting with these glasses on I was quite taken away at how many times I was seeing a significantly different representation of the scene with the assistance of the polarized lenses than without. Particularly in mid day with strong illumination that may be desirable to capture subtle contrast within the scene the ability to remove subtle reflections and specular light via this filter I found to be highly desirable.

Unfortunately, I did not feel that up to this time a polarizer filter was absolutely necessary with B&W film. Boy was I ever wrong. I immediately went out and acquired a set of three screw in linear polarizing filters and reach for them regularly.

How many of you have a polarizing filter in your camera bag and how often do you use it?

If you have not given this filter a try I would recommend starting like I did with the polarized sun glasses and see what you think. Just might improve an image or two along the way.

Just my $0.02.


Eric Woodbury
5-May-2006, 17:31
I have a 4x4 polarizer that I carry. I don't use it much because I use wide-angle lenses so much, but once in a while it is just right. Sometimes I even add a colored filter with it. All-in-all, I try to minimize my use of filters.

Oren Grad
5-May-2006, 17:37
When I was getting started in 35mm photography 30-odd years ago I did my time with all the fun filters - yellow, orange, red and green, polarizers, even the then-trendy dichroic color-changing polarizers.

Today I don't bother with any of them - I'm happy to accept whatever rendering the film delivers when used straight.

Minimalist cheers...

Patrik Roseen
5-May-2006, 17:44
Michael, I agree the polarizer filter really does wonders to the picture...both color and B&W. I carry a circular pol. filter and Cokin-P holder in my camera bag and use it whenever possible. I have now made sure that I have Cokin-P adapters for all my lenses. I even found an adapter for my Symmar 300mm with a filter thread of 86mm.

For color photography it makes the color more intense (but you need to be careful not to go over the limit where the picture start to look dull) and for B/W it drastically improves contrast and removes the haze in the air. Combined with a redfilter it can make the sky almost black.

Polarizer + redfilter adds to the necessary shuttertime +2+3 which makes it hard to use if there is any wind blowing (with tree branches moving etc). The polarizer works best when you have the sun slightly from the side. I can also recommend the use of polarizer for close-up photography where there is a big risk of reflections in the subject being photographed.

Eric Leppanen
5-May-2006, 20:06
I carry two linear polarizers: a 4x4 inch model, which I use with my Lee filter system, and a giant 6.6x6.6 inch model (which I purchased from a professional motion picture store), which I tape to the front of my big 8x10 glass. For B&W I use the polarizers as Patrik does: to increase contrast and tonal separation (particularly with the sky) and knock out haze in the air. I don't use a polarizer very often with B&W (maybe 5-10% of the time), but when I need it I really need it!

Eric Biggerstaff
5-May-2006, 22:18
I carry one in my filter kit and have been using it more as of late for my B&W work. In fact, I have been using it more than any other fitler in the bag. The haze in Denver these days is terrible as you know and the polarizer really helps me.

Thanks for the post and have a great day.


Andrew O'Neill
6-May-2006, 13:36
I have a couple of 'em in my vest pocket. Used them to cut out reflections on water and other shiny surfaces when I don't want them. If anybody cares to hear, I'm STILL waiting for all my replacement gear...I haven't taken a bloody photo since March of 2005.

Mark Woods
6-May-2006, 15:42
I use both a regular linear polarizer and a combo #85 Pola. Amazing filters.


Emrehan Zeybekoglu
7-May-2006, 10:54
I always have one in my bag I but don't always use it. I think I use it mostly with color film. Also I tend to use it more on my 35mm camera rather than on my 4x5. Cheers.

Brian Ellis
7-May-2006, 17:42
I use a Polarizer a lot with color film, not much with b&w. However, I'm getting tired of the way it causes the sky to darken unevenly when using a wide angle lens so it may be used less in the future, at least when there's sky in the photograph.

Ken Lee
7-May-2006, 18:09
Since I don't use wide-angle lenses, I use a polarizer a lot. Combined with a simple Yellow filter, it can darken the sky as much as an orange or red filter, but it won't darken foliage.

Here (http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/gallery/cornfield2.htm" target="_blank) is an example shot made when I was fiddling with 8x10. The lens was a 300mm Fujinon A. Ilford HP4+, PyroCat HD. The image lacks that "heavy" appearance that we often see when a deeper filter is employed, and looks like the scene appeared to the naked eye.