The Power of the Polarizer – A Side by Side Comparison

In another great example provided by Alberta based landscape photographer Darwin Wiggett, he shows us the incredible difference a polarizer can make – especially when photographing water, where reflections can cloud the beauty which lies beneath the surface.

A before and after example showing the difference a warming polarizer and 3-stop grad filter can make on a landscape.

Darwin explains exactly how he captured this image:

“Here is another one of my ‘bet you can’t do this in software’ filter challenge. The photo on the left was taken without any filters. The photo on the right was the same scene but using two filters, a warming polarizer (to remove reflective highlights, saturate colours and slightly warm up the overall scene) plus a 3-stop soft-edge grad pulled down to the top of the foreground rocks to even out the exposure.

The grad effect can be replicated in software but the polarizer effect can’t (removing reflective highlights is an optical effect which can’t be applied after the fact in software). Together the two filters lengthened the exposure time from a 1/2s to 4 seconds creating a third effect, that of ‘painting with time’.

I am not saying great shots can’t be taken without camera filters (I know lots of fine photographers that never use filters), I am just saying filters are tools that I use that get me results not easy or impossible to replicate in software.”

This is just another fantastic example of how powerful a filter can be for your photography, such as the ND filter which can add a painterly quality to moving objects in your frame.

Darwin explains all you need to know about filters in his very popular, and highly valuable eBook – Essential and Advanced Filters. It contains a wealth of information for landscape photographers of any level who wish to enhance their craft by using filters.

Also make sure to visit Darwin’s website,, which is packed with valuable articles on many aspects of landscape photography – from gear reviews to his in-the-field techniques.

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3 Comments on "The Power of the Polarizer – A Side by Side Comparison"

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renee kalmar

Thank you for reminding us that photography is about seeing light, understanding light, even manipulating light and that that happens in the experience of shooting, not on a computer.
Beautiful truly!

Fahad Al-Thekair

Great stuff !
But, aren’t polarizers not good for wide-angle shots ?
They tend to give an uneven effect.


I love the photography used and even the idea and thank you…!

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