- Aug 29, 2017
- New Jersey formerly NYC
- Multi Format
I've spent my whole adult life shooting in the outdoors with both color film and black and white. I've trekked thousands of miles through mountains and desert carrying large format gear, and made many many color prints of the very highest quality. At current replacement cost, an 8x10 color shot isn't a buck, but around $35 dollars every time you trip the shutter. And never once have I felt the need to resort to a polarizer. I have tested them. And the eye's perception of color saturation actually has less to do with how "colorful" something is, than the specific relationships between hues and if they are wisely modulated by intervening neutrals or not. Many color photographers mistake sheer decibel level of color from its effective use. And that mistake has only gotten way worse now that it so easy to silly-saturate things in PS. But often less is more. Go to a museum and take a look at some of Rothko's use of color in his paintings, or Van Gogh's; they had real color strategies, and not just a set of bright pigments.
Don't get me wrong. Some of my favorite coffee table books contain the work of color photographers who were addicted to polarizers for certain reasons, not necessarily color saturation itself. One example is Yoshikazu Shirakawa, whose famous Himalayan work often encountered the extreme glare of snow and glaciers. But so have I, without polarizers. And great work has been done before polarizers were ever invented. So a lot has to do with personal style. Yet it is also important to get a good handle on how your shots are going to be specifically reproduced. A competent slide or chrome or color negative is just a starting point.
The polarizer eliminates reflections on leaves as well, as my last post shows. Eliminating the reflection of light in the leaves tends to saturate the colors but often makes them lifeless. Like most things, moderation is helpful.