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Questions about polarization and angle of the sun
Is it a general rule that a polarizer should not be used for focal length wider than 28mm (35mm equivalent)? So if I had a 16-35mm L lens, on a crop body or FF body, then I should adjust it to about 28mm to ensure the even polarize effects on the picture?.

Another thing is that I read that polarizer is only effective when the angle of the sun is 90 degrees. I'm assuming that means the sun is directly overhead. My math is bad and I'm not sure what 60 degrees or 180 degrees would mean if someone were to measure the angle of the sun. Does anyone here have any examples to show me what each degree would mean?..

Comments (24)

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Another thing is that I read that polarizer is only effective whenthe angle of the sun is 90 degrees. I'm assuming that means the sunis directly overhead. My math is bad and I'm not sure what 60 degreesor 180 degrees would mean if someone were to measure the angle of thesun. Does anyone here have any examples to show me what each degreewould mean?.

What it means is - ideally the sun will be at 90 degrees to the direction the camera is pointing. The way to visualise this, is - make a pretend gun with your hand - you know, with your index finger pointing at the target, and your thumb straight up. Now point this "gun" (your index finger) in the direction you are shooting. Ideally, your thumb will be pointing at the sun..

It's not that the polariser is "only" effective in that situation, it's just that it is MOST effective in that situation..

Another thing is - if you are using a circular polariser (which ideally you will do, rather than a linear one, for reasons other people will probably explain) then you can rotate the polariser through a full 360 degrees and see the effect in the viwefinder..

So in fact you're working with two things: (1) ideally with the sun at 90 degrees and (2) with the circular polariser rotated to the position that gives the effect you want..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #1

Arrowman wrote:.

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Another thing is that I read that polarizer is only effective whenthe angle of the sun is 90 degrees. I'm assuming that means the sunis directly overhead. My math is bad and I'm not sure what 60 degreesor 180 degrees would mean if someone were to measure the angle of thesun. Does anyone here have any examples to show me what each degreewould mean?.

What it means is - ideally the sun will be at 90 degrees to thedirection the camera is pointing. The way to visualise this, is -make a pretend gun with your hand - you know, with your index fingerpointing at the target, and your thumb straight up. Now point this"gun" (your index finger) in the direction you are shooting.Ideally, your thumb will be pointing at the sun..

It's not that the polariser is "only" effective in that situation,it's just that it is MOST effective in that situation..

Another thing is - if you are using a circular polariser (whichideally you will do, rather than a linear one, for reasons otherpeople will probably explain) then you can rotate the polariserthrough a full 360 degrees and see the effect in the viwefinder..

Both linear and circular polarizers work the same way in terms of the need to rotate them in order to vary the degree of polarization between minimum and maximum. The only difference between the two types is that a circular polarizer add's a quarter wave plate which enables the light passing through the polarizer to maintain polarization after being reflected by the mirror/pentaprism inside the camera body. This prevents metering and AF errors on some cameras..

So in fact you're working with two things: (1) ideally with the sunat 90 degrees and (2) with the circular polariser rotated to theposition that gives the effect you want..

The thumb/pointed finger method is a good way to visualize the effect. And while the closer you can get to 90 deg. off of the lens axis the more effective the polarization, just keep in mind that for the filter to work at all, you don't want to be shooting with the sun too far behind or in front of you..

'Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!'.

Tom Younghttp://www.pbase.com/tyoung/..

Comment #2

The example that you guys gave me doesn't help. I can't visualize it...

Comment #3

Some polarizers have a dot on the edge of the filter. You're supposed to point the dot at the sun. If you think about it that means if the sun is near the horizon then you'll be pointed at 90 degrees from the sun for the maximum polarization. So at sunrise in the East then 90 degrees is either North or South.....ditto at sunset. If the sun is directly overhead then any direction you point is OK as all directions are 90 degrees from the sun.Does that help?A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #4

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

The example that you guys gave me doesn't help. I can't visualize it..

Ok, as you aim your camera/lens towards the subject, ideally the sun's position would be at any point over the horizon to either your left or right side or overhead. If it's position relative to the direction your lens is pointed is well behind you or well in front of you, the effects of the filter will diminish..

To put the "gun analogy" into play just do the ol' shape your hand into an imaginary gun thing by extending your thumb and pointer finger. Point your finger at your subject (don't shoot!), and look at where your thumb is pointed, maybe straight up cowboy style or off to the right gang banger style. You can rotate your hand as much as you're wrist will allow, both left and right, horizon to horizon. As long as your pointer finger (gun barrel) remains aimed at the subject, your thumb will trace a path across the sky. If the sun's position happens to match up to any point along that path you're in ideal shape as that would indicate a 90 deg. angle of view between the filter plane and the light source..

If you don't get an exact match, (not all subjects will be perfectly 90 deg. from the sun and your position all of the time) don't sweat it. Try out the polarizer and see how things look. 90 deg. is ideal, but there's plenty of wiggle room..

A good way to get a feel for how the filter will behave is to just take it out with you on a sunny day. Leave the camera in it's bag and simply view various objects directly through the the filter, rotating it back and forth with your fingers as you do..

'Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!'.

Tom Younghttp://www.pbase.com/tyoung/..

Comment #5

Thanks for the help guys, but I still can't visualize it. Can someone draw or post a diagram for me? I've never been good with geometry even when I was in elementary school. I suppose this is why I chose the Liberal Arts route in university..

Also for the polarizer, I intend to get the Hoya Pro1 Digital 77mm...

Comment #6

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Thanks for the help guys, but I still can't visualize it. Can someonedraw or post a diagram for me? I've never been good with geometryeven when I was in elementary school. I suppose this is why I chosethe Liberal Arts route in university..

OK, let me try this:.

This is you. The arrow to the right is the direction you are pointing your camera. For the sake of simplicity we will assume you are simply standing upright, there's no funny angles involved..

(EDIT: Sorry, not all of the clever characters came out in the final post. I hope you can still follow what I'm "drawing").

I>II^.

Now - if the sun is directly over your head, it is at 90 degrees (right angles).

That is, the angle between the line to the sun (straight up) and the line in which you are pointing (straight ahead) is 90 degrees..

SUNIIV.

I>II^.

If the sun is directly off to your right or left, it is still at 90 degrees..

If the sun is forward of you, between you and the subject, like this:.

SUN///.

I>II^.

Then it is no longer at 90 degrees. Likewise if it is behind you:.

SUN.

I>II^.

BUT: If the sun is behind you (say), and you are aiming at a subject that is slightly higher than you - the camera is angled upwards - then the sun may still be at 90 degrees (to the direction in which you are aiming your camera, or more precisely, the direction in which you are aiming the polariser):.

SUN.

I/ (camera pointing slightly upwards)II^.

(OK the angle isn't precise here but hopefully you get the drift).

The closer to 90 degrees, the more effect the polariser will have..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #7

Imagine the sun on the horizon ... (early morning or sunset). The polarizer does not work pointing either towards or away from the sun .... TURN "SIDEWAYS" and shoot with the SUN ON YOUR "SHOULDER"..

Likewise .... if the sun is directly overhead at NOON ... (really only 100% possible at latitudes close to the equator). Then the complete circular "horizon" would be 90 degrees ... (not effective shooting "up" into the sun ... or directly "down" towards the ground)..

In other words ... shooting directly towards the sun is 0-degrees ... shooting away from the sun is 180-degrees ....

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #8

Thanks for the effort guys, but I'll be honest with you and I'm still not 100% clear. It's helping and I think I get the basics, but if you guys can load up PS or some sketch program and sketch something, then I'm sure I'll get it. Sorry for making it hard guys, but I don't think I'll ever fully understand the concept without seeing some good visuals...

Comment #9

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Thanks for the effort guys, but I'll be honest with you and I'm stillnot 100% clear. It's helping and I think I get the basics, but if youguys can load up PS or some sketch program and sketch something, thenI'm sure I'll get it. Sorry for making it hard guys, but I don'tthink I'll ever fully understand the concept without seeing some goodvisuals..

What can be so difficult about ... DON'T SHOOT DIRECTLY TOWARDS (OR AWAY) FROM THE SUN if you want the "polarizer" effective ???.

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #10

JoePhoto wrote:.

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Thanks for the effort guys, but I'll be honest with you and I'm stillnot 100% clear. It's helping and I think I get the basics, but if youguys can load up PS or some sketch program and sketch something, thenI'm sure I'll get it. Sorry for making it hard guys, but I don'tthink I'll ever fully understand the concept without seeing some goodvisuals..

What can be so difficult about ... DON'T SHOOT DIRECTLY TOWARDS(OR AWAY) FROM THE SUN if you want the "polarizer" effective ???.

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? ).

So don't aim my camera directly at the sun or with the sun directly behind me?.

Only shoot with the sun is to my left, right, and overhead?..

Comment #11

If the sun is directly behind you, the maximum polarization angle is to your right or left..

The LEAST polarization effect is in the direction of your shadow on the ground..

The MOST polarization effect is perpendicular to the direction of your shadow on the ground...

Comment #12

The effect of a polarizer varies with angle ( of view ) and as wider angles cover a wider, yep, angle, then the the effect is uneven and more uneven the wider you shoot. This is usually considered bad, but the effect can be quite interesting. I don't really hold with the idea that wide angles and polarizers don't mix. Depends on the shot and whether you like the effect..

The angle thing..

Stand looking at the object you want through your viewfinder..

The greatest effect can be obtained if the sun is sideways to you or above you. That if you turned to your right or left the sun would be in your vertical sweep up or down..

Another way of saying that is that the ideal position of the sun should be somewhere along the plane formed by the back of the camera..

The main thing with the sun is - not in front and not behind, to the side or above is fine..

As for what setting to use the polarizer itself at, that really depends on how much effect you want. Just turn it until you like what you see..

Incidentally I've seen 45 and 60 ( not 90 ) reported as the best angle, and to be honest I think it's all beside the point. I can rarely pick the angle of the sun, so I just try the polarizer if I want to and if it gives me something, OK, if not, no big deal.. It just matters if you get an effect you like at the end of the day..

You can also use a CP to reduce reflections, e.g. from glass windows or water..

If you want even, deep blue skies then post process is usually better than a CP, IMO..

Luminous Landscape has some material on CPs and filters. Always worth a look there for technical stuff..

StephenG.

Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..

Comment #13

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Only shoot with the sun is to my left, right, and overhead?.

YES....

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #14

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

JoePhoto wrote:.

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Thanks for the effort guys, but I'll be honest with you and I'm stillnot 100% clear. It's helping and I think I get the basics, but if youguys can load up PS or some sketch program and sketch something, thenI'm sure I'll get it. Sorry for making it hard guys, but I don'tthink I'll ever fully understand the concept without seeing some goodvisuals..

What can be so difficult about ... DON'T SHOOT DIRECTLY TOWARDS(OR AWAY) FROM THE SUN if you want the "polarizer" effective ???.

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? ).

So don't aim my camera directly at the sun or with the sun directlybehind me?.

Only shoot with the sun is to my left, right, and overhead?.

Y - E - S !!!.

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #15

What if the Sun is in the Northwestern or Northeastern direction. lol, I realize this may be an awkward way of describing things, but I can't think of another way to describe it. Should I shoot in this direction?.

What if the sun was in front of me or behind me? Should I take off the polarizer and shoot with the bare lens?..

Comment #16

And we thought you were doing so good....

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

What if the Sun is in the Northwestern or Northeastern direction.lol, I realize this may be an awkward way of describing things, but Ican't think of another way to describe it..

Think harder? I think there are college courses to help people construct English sentences....

Should I shoot in this.

Direction?.

What if the sun was in front of me or behind me? Should I take offthe polarizer and shoot with the bare lens?.

Better than taking off your clothes and shooting with your audience ROTF.LOL..

Hey, it kinda depends on where your subject is located and whether you have time to unscrew the CP filter..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #17

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

What if the Sun is in the Northwestern or Northeastern direction.lol, I realize this may be an awkward way of describing things, but Ican't think of another way to describe it. Should I shoot in thisdirection?.

Are you really a "sergeant" ???.

Who's army ???.

What if the sun was in front of me or behind me? Should I take offthe polarizer and shoot with the bare lens?.

It basically just acts as a Neutral Density filter, (-1.5 stops); so it is best to remove it unless you want that. You get no "polarizer" effect or benefit..

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #18

Chuxter wrote:.

And we thought you were doing so good....

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

What if the Sun is in the Northwestern or Northeastern direction.lol, I realize this may be an awkward way of describing things, but Ican't think of another way to describe it..

Think harder? I think there are college courses to help peopleconstruct English sentences....

Should I shoot in this.

Direction?.

What if the sun was in front of me or behind me? Should I take offthe polarizer and shoot with the bare lens?.

Better than taking off your clothes and shooting with your audienceROTF.LOL..

Hey, it kinda depends on where your subject is located and whetheryou have time to unscrew the CP filter..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/.

Is there something wrong with my grammar?.

I'm trying my best to visualize what you are saying. I think the point of the forums is to ask for help. If some how this was not the point, then I think I'm posting at the wrong place...

Comment #19

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

What if the Sun is in the Northwestern or Northeastern direction.lol, I realize this may be an awkward way of describing things, but Ican't think of another way to describe it. Should I shoot in thisdirection?.

Depending on where you are and the time of year, the sun may well be found in the NE/NW. Regardless of where the sun happens to be at any one time, the polarizing filter will be it's most effective when your lens axis is at a 90 deg. angle from the suns positon, and will become less and less effective as the lens is turned either closer towards the suns position (towards 0 deg.) or farther from the suns position (towards 180 deg.)..

What if the sun was in front of me or behind me? Should I take offthe polarizer and shoot with the bare lens?.

In cases where the filter is unable to provide any benefits of polarization, either as a result of there being too narrow/great of an angle between the lens and the sun, or due to cloudy/hazy conditions there will be little to no real benefit to leaving it mounted on the lens, however leaving it mounted won't cause much more harm than any other type of filter..

Because of it's density, relative to a clear or UV filter, it will reduce the amount of light entering the camera, much as a mild neutral density filter would. Some filters of lower quality could lend a slight (usually greenish) color cast. As with any other filter, leaving it mounted with the lens pointed towards the sun could lead to problems with flare and ghosting due to reflections between the glass surface of the filter and the cameras sensor..

Again, the easiest way to get familiar with the effects of a polarizing filter would be to just spend some time playing around with it. Keep it in your shirt pocket and when you're outside on a sunny day and have a little extra time, take it out and hold it to your eye, viewing various subjects as you rotate it. You'll guickly get a feel for the sort of conditions where it can be very effective at removing/minimizing reflections and glare and conditions where it will make little if any difference at all..

Also, there are lots of good resources on the web that go into detail explaining the nature of light, how and why lightwaves become polarized upon being reflected off of various types of surfaces and how (and when) a polarizing filter can take advantage of that effect..

Just Google terms like "polarization", "Polarizing filter", etc. and see what turns up..

Have fun!.

'Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!'.

Tom Younghttp://www.pbase.com/tyoung/..

Comment #20

I hope I didn't cause you to lose any hair with the explanation. I think you're right. I'm going to need to play with the filter to have a good idea of how the polarizing effect works. It's probably easier to figure that out than with you or anyone else trying to explain to me...

Comment #21

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

I hope I didn't cause you to lose any hair with the explanation. Ithink you're right. I'm going to need to play with the filter to havea good idea of how the polarizing effect works. It's probably easierto figure that out than with you or anyone else trying to explain tome..

LoL! No, I still have my hair.  Polarizers are specialty filters and unlike many other types of filters, they have their own set of rules to get familiar with. The whole process is a very common source of confusion at first but as with many things, a little basic familiarity can be all thats needed to make what initially might seem overly complex become surprisingly simple..

'Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!'.

Tom Younghttp://www.pbase.com/tyoung/..

Comment #22

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

I hope I didn't cause you to lose any hair with the explanation. Ithink you're right. I'm going to need to play with the filter to havea good idea of how the polarizing effect works. It's probably easierto figure that out than with you or anyone else trying to explain tome..

ARE YOU REALLY A SERGEANT ???.

WHO's ARMY ???.

(I hope not OURS !!!).

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #23

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

And we thought you were doing so good....

Is there something wrong with my grammar?.

No. But your reading comprehension is suspect? .

I'm trying my best to visualize what you are saying. I think thepoint of the forums is to ask for help. If some how this was not thepoint, then I think I'm posting at the wrong place..

This is the right place. It's frustrating to have your padawan make great strides, only to slip back to the dark side (confusion)..

Honestly, this is a difficult concept if you have never held a piece of polarizing material, looked through it, and played with it..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #24

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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