Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From the Archive:
Gold-N-Blue Polarizer can put your scene in a new light -- even in the mid-day sun!

This article from Outdoor Photographer dates back to the introduction of the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer. Text and photography by Weir McBride.

Ever come across an impressive outdoor scene and find everything to be just right -- except for the uninspiring light? That's when I tell myself, "It's Gold-N-Blue time."

The Gold-N-Blue Polarizer from Singh-Ray Filters is a "bi-color" polarizer, but you might also think of it as a magic window -- hold it to your eye and look through. The scene takes on a new look, with more warmth and added touches of either gold or blue. As you rotate the Gold-N-Blue, you see the polarized areas in the scene shift gradually from gold to blue and back to gold as it creates interesting new possibilities.

Even without strong sunlight, the Gold-N-Blue can lead to effects and moods that are sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle, but almost always interesting. Be aware, however, the Gold-N-Blue won't guarantee a more pleasing photo. A lot depends on the subject matter, the direction and amount of sunlight on the scene, the degree of gold and blue effect you select, as well as your own skill and experience.

Sometimes it saves the day
Traveling through scenic areas usually finds us striving to photograph as many places each day as we can -- and making good use of the time between 9AM and 3PM when the sun is high overhead and casting short harsh shadows. This mid-day sunlight isn't anyone's first choice for dramatic landscapes, but it can result in a lot of reflected polarized light -- especially from sky and water surfaces in the scene -- which helps the Gold-N-Blue do its best work.

Under the right conditions, this filter can be a good choice at other times of the day, too, but not when your lens is pointed directly toward or away from the sun. Like all polarizers, the Gold-N-Blue has its greatest effect when the sun is at a right angle to the axis of your lens and filter.

Things to remember
The Gold-N-Blue Polarizer alters only the polarized light rays reflecting off objects in a scene. People, animals, and many other natural surfaces do not reflect much polarized light. In some outdoor scenes, there will be very large areas -- such as sky and lakes -- that dramatically change color. At other times, the changes will be more subtle.

On hazy or cloudy days, when there's little or no direct sunlight reflecting off the scene, the Gold-N-Blue may be less effective. Be ready, however, the moment the sun breaks through the clouds -- you could be in for a nice shot.

It's helpful to preview your scene directly through the Gold-N-Blue before placing it on the lens. This allows you to quickly move around to compare various shooting angles relative to the subject and the sun's direction. To better understand the unique way the Gold-N-Blue enriches colors and contrast, practice "eyeballing" various outdoor scenes and lighting conditions as you travel around.

Considerations: Film and Digital The Gold-N-Blue will reduce the amount of light reaching your film or digital sensor by about two f-stops. This "filter factor" will be accurately read by your SLR film camera's TTL metering system, and the viewfinder image will be noticeably darker. It will simply require a wider aperture or longer exposure.

Digital SLR camera will likely require an additional f-stop for best results. The preset white balance in the camera should be "customized" with the filter in place, to compensate for any additional reds and reduced greens introduced by the polarizer's reddish tendencies. You may need to refer to your owner's manual to see if and how you can set a custom white balance, but it's a simple matter on most digital cameras that allow it. If shooting RAW, it is also possible to adjust the white balance with software after the fact.

The Gold-N-Blue is available from Singh-Ray.com in either standard 52 to 77mm screw-in mounting rings or in a "sprocket wheel" mount to fit the Cokin "P" filter holder. Custom sizes and mounts are also available.

Both film and digital photographers should greet the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer as an exciting way to enjoy outdoor photography whenever and wherever we get the chance. What'll it be... blue... or gold?

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