I’ve been photographing landscapes for years and years, and I’m constantly amazed by just how beautiful the world around me can be. I also like the challenge – no two landscapes are ever alike, nor are the conditions in which you photograph them. There’s a simplicity to landscape photography that I enjoy as well.
This isn’t to say that it’s easy; rather, there’s no model release forms, no flashguns or softboxes to worry about. Instead, landscape photography is all about you, your camera, and the scene before you. If you’re ready to improve your landscape photos, I’d like to share one of the best landscape photography tips there is with you.
Use a Polarizing Filter
If you love to photograph landscapes, the most important piece of gear you can have is a high-quality polarizing filter. I’ll get to the specifics of what a polarizer does in just a moment, but for now, just know that they can have a positive impact on your photos in a number of ways. And it couldn’t be easier to use a polarizer, either.
A circular polarizer simply screws onto the end of your lens. There’s not an installation procedure easier than that! Once the filter is on your lens, simply turn the polarizer in its housing to get the desired effect. If you find that your landscape photos suffer from glare, poor contrast, or washed out skies, a polarizer is the perfect antidote.
Benefits of Using a Polarizing Filter
There are three primary benefits of using a polarizing filter:
- Polarizers increase contrast in the sky, making the blue sky darker and the white clouds brighter, as shown above. This increased contrast gives landscape photos gorgeous, dramatic skies. Colors throughout the scene can be enhanced as well.
- Polarizers suppress glare off non-metallic surfaces like water, allowing you to create perfect reflections of the landscape rather than having sun glare blocking the view. This also lets you see beneath the surface of the water to view elements just under the surface, like sand or rocks.
- Polarizers reduce the effects of atmospheric haze, making distant landscape features look clearer and more defined.
In addition to these benefits, consider this: the effects that you derive from a polarizing filter simply cannot be matched in post-processing. That is, though you can certainly boost colors and contrast in your images in Photoshop, Lightroom, and the like, these programs can’t duplicate the haze-reducing and glare-reducing effects of a polarizer.
What’s more, why spend more time processing your image at home when you can get better effects by using a polarizing filter in the field?
Choosing a Polarizing Filter
Now that you know a little more about the benefits of a polarizing filter and understand that they’re dead-simple to use, the question on your mind is surely, “What is the best polarizing filter?” That’s a bit of a loaded question given that there are so many excellent polarizers out there. I’d like to make the case for the Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizing Filter as being among the best available.
These filters are crafted in Japan with high-grade optical glass. The lens ring has a satin finish that reduces reflections as well. In fact, the filter has six coatings, including an anti-static layer to prevent dust and dirt from sticking to the glass and an ultra-low reflective layer to minimize reflections even further. What’s more, these filters are just 5mm thick, which lessens the profile of the filter in front of your lens. That means less chance of vignetting when shooting with a large aperture. The blackened outer rim of the filter reduces ghosting and flare, giving you further ability to take photos that are crisp, clean, and free of aberrations.
These filters are even available in a host of sizes, from 37mm up to 105mm. Additionally, Marumi has added both a water-repellent and an oil-repellent finish. That means that when you’re shooting in the rain or snow, you can worry less about raindrops on your filter and more on getting the shot. Likewise, the oil-repellant finish helps ward off stains and fingerprints to keep your filter clean so that your camera can capture the beauty before you.
In other words, the Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizing Filter is the ideal choice for photographers that want to immediately improve their photos. Perhaps best of all, these filters balance quality and price – where other polarizers will set you back hundreds of dollars, the Marumi CPLs start at under $60 at time of writing (depending on size).
When it comes to how to improve your landscape photos, there are tons of landscape photography tips that will help you do just that. But for me, one of the most effective ways to get more impressive shots is to use one of the best polarizing filters you can afford. As noted earlier, it’ll improve various facets of your images while also saving you time in post-processing.