Circular Polarizer – Photographing Water

By Megan P Galope

It is common knowledge that a circular polarizer can change the color of the sky in your photo from light blue to dark blue (depending on the direction you are facing relative to the sun). However, a circular polarizer can also come in handy when the subject of your image is water. I was recently on an Arizona Highways PhotoScapes workshop to Zion National Park where we photographed the Virgin River. Notice the difference between the images below (they are all unedited). The settings remained the same—the only thing I did was turn the circular polarizer.


In the following two images, notice how you can see some of the rocks below the surface in the first one, but the reflection off the water blocks them out in the second one.


The next time you photograph water, be sure to bring your circular polarizer—it can open up a bunch of creative opportunities!

One last thing to note: when you turn your polarizer, it is best to turn it in the same direction you would to screw it on your lens. Otherwise, you might unwittingly unscrew your polarizer and it could fall off your camera

Megan P Galope is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes