When the colour of the sky is dull, it will appear vaguely blue with low contrast. In such cases, a polarizing filter, or PL filter for short, will help make the sky appear a deeper blue. The key to successfully depicting the deeper colour is in the direction the camera faces, and in the rotation of the PL filter. In this article, we use examples shot with an EOS 750D paired with an EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)
EOS 750D/ EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM/ FL: 15mm (24mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/320 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
Rotate the PL filter to bring out the desired effect
A: Attach the PL filter to the lens.
B: Shoot with direct light.
C: Rotate the PL filter and check the result to see if you have obtained the desired effect.
A PL filter removes unnecessary reflected light and brings out a colourful finish with high contrast. By using this filter to capture blue sky, you will be able to depict the sky in a deeper shade of blue.
To use a PL filter, attach it to the front of the lens. Select a filter that matches the diameter of the lens, and turn the filter to screw it in place into the screw threads.
During your shoot, select a direct light source when composing your images, and adjust the filter effect. The PL filter has 2 layers, for which you can create a stronger or weaker effect by turning the frame at the front. Accordingly, the blue sky will be depicted in a deeper or lighter shade, and you can use Live View or the viewfinder to find the angle at which you can obtain the deepest shade of blue.
Because the PL filter restricts incident light, the shutter speed slows down. As a result, it is more likely that the subject will become blurry when capturing a moving object. Hence, for handheld shooting, be careful of camera shake. If necessary, you can address this by increasing the ISO speed to make the shutter speed faster.
Press the [ISO] button to change the ISO speed.
Taken without using the PL filter
Compared to the image at the top, you can see that the contrast is low and the blue is a lighter shade.
Tip: Use the PL filter in direct light
Depending on the type of light you use, the effect produced by the PL filter will be different. If you want to capture the sky in a deeper shade of blue, have your back facing the sun to shoot in direct light. The effect of the PL filter is strongest when shooting the sky at a 90 degree angle from the sun. Therefore, when the sun is high in the sky the effect is more pronounced if you shoot the sky close to the horizon. When it is low in the sky, it is more effective to shoot the sky directly overhead. Keep in mind that the PL filter will be of little effect if used with backlight.
Good example: The sky appears a deeper shade of blue when captured in direct light
Negative example: The filter has no effect when shooting in backlight
Left: EOS 750D/ EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM/ FL: 13mm (21mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/60 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
To bring out the effect of the PL filter sufficiently, find a location where you can shoot your subject in direct light. This way, you can capture a lively depiction while emphasizing the blueness of the sky.
Right: EOS 750D/ EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM/ FL: 16mm (26mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/200 sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
The closer your camera is pointed toward the sun, the weaker the effect of the PL filter. With backlight such as this, the PL filter will have almost no effect.
To mount the PL filter, rotate it and attach it to the screw threads at the front of the lens. The front frame can be rotated 360 degrees, with the effect changing roughly every 90 degrees. After confirming which angle is most effective, you can finely adjust the angle to obtain your desired effect.
Recommended PL filter
Circular polarizing filter PL-C B
The filter is available in diameters of 52mm, 58mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, and 82mm. You can also attach a lens cap on top of the filter.
For more images shot with the EOS 750, check out this article:
Photo Review of EOS 760D and EOS 750D
For more about photographing with filters, check out:
Using Lens Filters: 2 Techniques from Professional Photographers
Receive the latest updates on photography news, tips and tricks by signing up with us!
Born in Tokyo in 1976, Kohno graduated with a Social Work degree from the Department of Sociology of Meiji Gakuin University, and apprenticed with photographer Masato Terauchi. He contributed to the first issue of photography magazine PHaT PHOTO and became an independent photographer after that, in 2003. The author of many books, Kohno not only shoots all sorts of commercial photographs, but also writes prolifically for camera and other magazines.