While shooting the Maybank Malaysian Open 2012, one of the problems i noticed that was the highlights were getting blown out; skies were just a mess of hot white. The contrast between the foreground, middle third and the sky was just too great — something had to give. The skies were normally sacrificed in order to maintain the details of the foreground subject. Some post-processing magic can be applied to recover some of the blown out features, but generally, they were just too hot.
above Heavy post-processing required to recover the detail of the sky, but in retrieving the details, the colour became too funky; converting to B&W will hide the discolouration somewhat but isn’t ideal
One way to get around this problem is to use a polarizing filter, generally one that stops down. By cutting the light, the photo retains a lot of it’s natural contrast and colour saturation. It does darken the foreground significantly, but i’ve noticed that under the effects of the filter, it’s easily recoverable with little loss in resolution and gain in noise.
above The Hoya CIR-Polarizing Filter (58mm)
So i consciously remembered to pack my Hoya polarizing filter with me today and screwed it on just as began my shooting on the golf course. It was a brilliantly sunny day, very little cloud cover. Early in the morning, around 8am. The skies were a gorgeous blue hue; without the filter in place, the colour would have been lost. The following shots, one at the golf course and another a bit later in the morning in town, tell the tale. Minimal post-processing done on each. Just a bit of fill light, and minor cropping.
above Notice the sky. That’s nearly exactly what i saw with my own eyes, colour wise
above Again, notice the sky, and the captured texture of the cloud on the left
Very, very useful in high contrast scenarios. Will be taking it with me to the beach over the next few days, and into the foothills of Mount Kinabalu; quite sure it will prove it’s worth again. For RM80 (about US$25), a nice little tool to have in the bag for those moments when you need it.