Why use CPL filter?

You might be wondering why to use CPL while shooting water blur ?

  • It causes trouble to carry it everywhere.
  • It’s a tedious job to keep it clean and dry in monsoon.
  • It adds vignetting while using with ND filter.
  • Etc etc

Then why should we use it anyway ??

#1: What does CPL do ?

Circular Polarizer AKA CPL mainly has two pieces of glasses; Polarising filter and quarter-wave plate. To keep it simple they work as a sunglasses for your camera. To know how it works scientifically check this link : How CPL Works?

#2: Make Sky dark and Pop up the clouds

The first thing that we notice when we use CPL is that it darkens the blue sky and makes the clouds more dramatic. Well that’s really useful but to work with it perfectly you need to make 90 degree angle from the Sun. Sometimes you might witness that it makes only a part of sky darker in your frame when you do not get the angle right. You have to move accordingly to make a perfect 90 degrees angle. To get the perfect angle you may have to change your compositions. Personally i do not compromise on the compositions so i prefer not to use CPL while clicking the landscapes. I darken the sky in post processing the images.IMG_0350


#3: Cut the reflections

The next thing you will notice about CPL is that they remove the reflections from the water or any other surface; for example glass, wet stones etc. I like to shoot in monsoons so CPL is a very

handy option to use while clicking landscapes. It removes the reflections while clicking wet surfaces. You will find it very useful while clicking waterfalls, wet cliffs, wet leaves or trees, lakes, ponds even rivers. Here is an example to show the effect of CPL


You can clearly check that the image with CPL looks better than without CPL. All the reflections from the cliff are removed without any post processing. You can also see that the water looks more smooth while clicked with CPL as it does not have any reflections in it.

#4: Boosting the reflections

Well that would sound strange but it’s true. As CPL can be used to cut the reflections they can be used to improve them as well. Sometimes if you are shooting the calm pond or seas water and you want to capture the sky’s reflection on the water you can use CPL to boost the reflections. At perfect angle CPL removes all the reflections likewise if you can achieve the opposite. The light from the bottom of the water gets filtered which actually enhances the reflection. If the conditions are right the water’s surface can be turned into a perfect mirror.


#5: How to use ?

  • Put your CPL on the lens.
  • Rotate the front element while looking at the composition through viewfinder.
  • When you achieve the desired angle click the photo.
  • Reflection free scene, darkest sky or popped up clouds is the indication of perfect angle. It completely depends on the composition; so make full use of it.
  • Clean the CPL before using else it might leave dust spots on your photos.
  • Make sure you dry your CPL if you have used it in rain / water