As of today, I’ve had my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue polarizer for exactly a week. Several of this week’s posts were taken with my new toy. Because it is a polarizer, it’s difficult to recreate the effect in Photoshop (at least for someone with my post-processing skills). The first time you look through it, and give it a spin, you’ll notice that it’s wildly different than any other polarizer that you may have used. The first thing that you notice, after you download your images, is that nothing looks like it did in your viewfinder.
This filter has its roots in film. Before Photoshop was a standard component in the photographic workflow, filters were the primary tool to manipulate the color in your image. With film there was no notion of white balance (WB), although we still used it; we just called it something different. To compensate for each temperature of light we used a different type of film; tungsten being just one example. Really, we were setting WB in hardware. Today we set it in software.
I always leave my camera set to automatic WB, because I often adjust that setting manually. In this shot, the version on the right is what Adobe Lightroom shows me when I import the image. Getting the image to what I remembered seeing in the viewfinder required some radical adjustment.
Getting to the version on the left required moving the color temperature slider to, a very cool, 2850 and dropping the tint slider to -55. Those are adjustments that I’d never dream of making, in most cases, but they’re required to offset the reddish hue that his filter imparts. Your actual settings will vary depending on your light and conditions but don’t be afraid of big adjustments. It’s probably possible to set a custom white balance, in camera, to get you to a closer starting point but you’ll still likely want to adjust it manually in processing.
Bottom line – If you get to play with one of these don’t panic when you see your images. Stop, relax and cool down; everything will be fine.
A word of caution:
The effects of this filter can impart very strong reactions from people. To many “landscape purists” it’s unnatural or cheating. On the other hand many people really enjoy how it renders the image. Just like using saturation, vibrance, blending or any other technique to increase your image’s visual impact, this is just a tool. Landscape photography should be about your own personal artistic representation of a scene, not someone else’s notion of the the craft should be.
Shoot, experiment and have fun.