Photo: (non-)Polarizer problem solving

Picture: Bicyclist on narrow twisting road through grass hills near Mount Tamalpais, Marin County, California

Last week I was giving a private workshop along the back slopes of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. I was discussing the use of polarizers, anda common problem that happens when using them with wide angled lenses. That problem is the dreaded dark blue diagonal line that spreads across the sky, with one corner becoming dark blue, and the other corner being light blue. It’s a very obvious effect, and never pretty. As I was setting up this scene as an example of what I might do to avoid that tell-tale polarizer effect. In this case, I was facing exactly 90 degrees off-axis from the sun, which is the angle the polarizer is most effective. However, I suggested to my clients that a few options exist to still get a nice photo, even if you had to do without a polarizer. In this case, I selected a slightly tighter frame, and reduced the amount of sky. Second, I used a soft edge two-stop filter over the sky. In processing the RAW file, I used a slight bit of under exposure, and then added a contrast boosting curve via the ‘Adjust Levels’ control. Just as I was explaining how I would do all this, the bicyclist rode into my frame, to complete the photo. BTW- that slight spo in the sky isn’t dirt, it’s a vulture. I didin’t clone the bird out, because in the full sized file it looks really cool hanging almost directly over where the road goes behind the ridgeline.

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One Comment on “Photo: (non-)Polarizer problem solving”

  1. Richard Says:

    Interesting advice Gary, I woudln’t have guessed this was a GND shot. I’m as guilty as anyone of being a polarizer addict so perhaps I should try that sometime.

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