Have you ever used a polarising filter when photographing classic cars?
For the majority of classic car owners, the answer may well be a questioning look.
I first heard about the polarising filter back in 2015 while attending the Beaulieu Supercar Showdown. Since discovering the polariser, I have never looked back. Regardless of your photographic abilities, a polarising filter will truly transform the photographs of your vehicle. Once you see the before and after shots, you’ll wonder why you’ve never come across one before, the contrast is that impressive which is why all the top photographers use them.
Attaching one to your lens couldn’t be easier either. It’s simply a case of taking the clear filter off the lens, replacing with your chosen polarising filter and you’re good to go.
So what does the polarising filter actually do? In a nutshell, it removes shadows and reflections from the surface of the vehicle. By rotating the filter, the reflections from the windows and body of the car vanish. This most noticeable result of applying a polarising filter allows the interior of the vehicle to become immediately clearer with light reflections on the windows from the surrounding environment removed. The results can be phenomenal as can be seen in the shots below.
As you can see from the before and after shots, the polarising filter does more than just remove the reflections. The colours are more vivid and the overall effect is of a photograph with a much more vibrant tone. A common disappointment when owners photograph their own vehicles is that the paintwork often appears dull or lacklustre. A polarising filter goes a long way in rectifying this issue.
Something worth bearing in mind is that a polarising filter can be used in conjunction with your mobile phone camera. If you’re using a standard camera polariser removed from your digital camera, then you’ll have to use one hand to hold the phone, and the other to turn the filter, so it polarises correctly. So not only can the filter be used on digital cameras, but it can also be held in front of a mobile phone with the same results.
Of course, there are times when a polariser is not needed. Primarily when overcast conditions dictate indirect or low light. The primary objective of the filter is to cancel out any reflections on the windscreen and body of the car due to direct sunlight or excessively high light. Keeping the polariser on in low light conditions will result in the need to increase shutter speed as well as upping the ISO (sensitivity of the image sensor). Low light conditions render a polarising filter unnecessary, although arguably there is some benefit in regards to colour.
In short, the polarising filter is an essential piece of kit for anyone wishing to drastically improve the photographs of their vehicles. The filters are fairly inexpensive to buy, offering an improvement that is impressive for the fairly minimal outlay involved. Eclectic Essential.