When listening to photographers discussing equipment and technique, I have heard several times that polarizing filters should not be used when you are high up. As you get higher, the skies get clearer and deeper blue and the idea is that the polarizer becomes too much. I was pondering this when we were up in the Washington Pass along the North Cascades Highway. We aren’t very high at this point but still a decent elevation. I thought about taking the polarizer off but I felt like it really improved the colors and vibrancy of the images. Maybe we weren’t high enough for it to matter or maybe some of you will look at these shots and think it is too much. I’m genuinely interested to hear what you think.
If I remember – which I frequently don’t – I take my polarizer with me when I am going to photographing scenery. With our trip up into the Cascades, we went to the overlook of Diablo Lake and the sun was reflecting off the surface of the lake waters. I took two shots – one with the polarizer rotated to remove the glare and one with the glare in full effect. I was interested to see which of the shots I preferred when I got home. The color of the lake is very nice but sometimes the reflections are more interesting. I include both here to show just how much of a difference the polarizer makes and for you to decide which is to your taste.
When I changed bodies, I had to update some of my accessories too. My old filter system was fine on a cropped body but with full frame, the filter holder encroached on the corners for the wide angle lenses. I took the opportunity to change my polarizer set up. I used to use a polarizer on my Cokin holder. This was a bit inconvenient when I was using lens hoods. Instead, I decided to get a screw in polarizer. Since most of my lenses have the same filter size, this gives me more flexibility.
I took the polarizer with me on vacation. One place where I made good use of it was in the rain forest. While it was pretty dark in the heavy forest cover, there was moisture everywhere and this meant a lot of reflections and glare. Consequently, I went with the polarizer most of the time. While I was there, though, I decided to do some experimentation by repeating some shots without the polarizer to see how much of a difference it made. You can see the with and without shots here and judge for yourself what a difference it makes.