Tag Archives: indian ocean

Sunnies for your lenses

‘Sunnies’ is of course short for sunglasses but who can be bothered to pronounce such a long word? Certainly no Aussies I know!

A polarizer filter is the equivalent of sunnies for your lens and I still believe it is very much an essential tool in a photographers bag of tricks. You can certainly saturate the colours till your eyes bleed in Photoshop no problem there. But you simply can’t replicate the effect of a polarizer filter on maximum effect – especially if there’s water or foliage in your composition. The polarizer filter can remove glare from water and foliage and greatly enhance colours and detail. It can also remove reflections allowing you to shoot straight through the water or shoot through a window in a plane or helicopter with no reflections.

A recently developed RAW file of mine is a very simple (perhaps too simple, what do you think?) shot of the extremely gorgeous beaches found on the West Coast of Australia. It’s somewhere around Yanchep north of Perth and the pearly white sand and bluer than blue sky of WA is in itself mind blowing. Add to that a polarizer filter and your inner colour space is certainly in need of expansion:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Colours of Indian Ocean Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I am not entirely convinced this image really works, it’s a very simple sky/ocean/beach composition but the colours are magnificent and it serves as a good example here. It does also look very lifelike and impressive at large size. The polarizer filter removes all glare and reflection so the colours are very pure and saturated. The ocean is a greenish tone because all reflection of the sky into the ocean are removed by the polarizer and you’re seeing through the water.

You need a high quality polarizer and they can be slightly expensive but it’s no use putting low quality filters on an expensive lens. It takes a bit of practice to use this filter, you rotate it to achieve desired effect and it can be hard to see in the view finder. Polarized light is strongest at a 90 degree angle to the sun and the filter is best used in the middle of the day (and is actually also a big help for black and white images!). With a wide angle lens you do run the risk of getting a wildly uneven sky so practice and make sure you shoot different versions. As much as a polarizer can help it can also ruin your sky like nothing else and you certainly don’t want to use a polarizer in stitched panoramas – your sky will never blend! Watch your exposure as well, a polarizer can eat at least a stop of light. Experience is the teacher here.

The final example is a much better photo, this time from 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island in Australia:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

75 Mile Beach
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Notice how dark the sky has become, how much more defined the clouds are and how there is no glare and no reflections in the sand and water greatly enhancing colour purity and saturation. It’s all from the magic of ‘sunnies’ on the lens!