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Why use a polarising filter?

These two pictures are identical except that the first was taken with a polariser and the second without.

Polarising filters

· reduce reflections from water (and glass and other shiny surfaces). You can’t replicate this in software

· increase colour saturation

Circular polarisers work by attaching the filter to the front of the lens and then rotating it either clockwise or anti clockwise to increase or decrease the effect of polarisation and you can see the effect as you do so.  You do lose a couple of stops of light (so shutter speeds will be longer unless you change the aperture and/or ISO but you’d generally be working with a tripod anyway so that’s not an issue).

When you’re shooting waterfalls try starting with a shutter speed of ¼ second to get some movement in the water. Too fast and you freeze it, too slow and it looks milky (although I personally like that effect). It does also depend on the rate of flow so it’s worth experimenting.

Whatever the shutter speed, aim for an aperture of f11 or f16, manually focus a third of the way into the scene for front to back sharpness and use a low ISO for maximum image quality.

If you’d like learn more about this or any other aspect of photography there are more details here


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