I don’t know how else to say this. Sometimes I want to take a photo of something, but I don’t want it bad enough that I’m going to get out my “big-boy” camera unless it’s already out and ready. This happens for a few reasons. Maybe I’m somewhere I can’t bring my camera easily. Most of the time it’s because I know that the way I’ll use the photo doesn’t call for the larger camera setup. Probably because the photo won’t go beyond phone-sharing or on social media, or I know the DSLR  won’t take any better of a photo than I can take with my phone.

Whatever the reason, you can’t argue that the iPhone (or whatever phone you have) has a great camera in it, and can be really useful. But it doesn’t use filters – specifically a polarizer which can be really useful for outdoor photography.

Sure, some one could make a filter that fits the iPhone, but that’d just be one more thing to carry around (and one more thing for me to forget). Instead, how about your polarizing sunglasses? Last week, I was teaching at a workshop in Portland at the Japanese Gardens. We were there in late morning, so the sun was a little higher in the sky. But even in some harsher light, it’s a beautiful place. I was teaching though, so I didn’t have my camera out. But every once in a while I’d snap a photo with my iPhone. But it never looked the same, and I realized why. I was looking at the gardens through my polarized sunglasses. Everything looked great!

So I figured what the heck. I took my sunglasses off, and put them over the lens on my iPhone. Here’s the result:

Before My Sunglasses


And here’s one where I did a little fake sun-flare in Photoshop with one of my overlays

What’s the Difference?

The polarizer isn’t just to get a bluer sky. In fact, I rarely ever use mine for that. Mainly, the polarizer cuts down on reflections and glare. If you look at this side-by-side comparison (before image on the left), you can see that the trees on the left side all appear very contrasty, white, and almost lacking in detail because of the glare. Whereas that glare looks a bit less contrasty, and actually has detail in those areas on the right. Pretty cool eh?

So, if you’re ever traveling and want to still take some nice photos, but you don’t have all of your fancy gear with you, this could totally come in handy in a pinch. Enjoy and have a great weekend!


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