How to get rid of glare and reflections on video: Use a Polarizer Filter

by Johnny Cambodia

Many video hobbyists and independent filmmakers starting out don't commonly have or know about a polarizer filter.  It is easy not to miss this nifty accessory if you don't know about it.   

However, a polarizer filter can improve your video work and it definitely has its uses under the conditions it is built for, just to give your video work an extra touch of professionalism.

Let's get more acquainted with this filter and what it does:

A polarizing filter reduces glare and relections on certain surfaces, as well as darken the sky under certain conditions. 

This means that instead of surfaces reflecting white off of them, you can see the color of the surface better. Photographing a clean, shiny car for example will produce an image of a car with reflections from all sides on it.  Also if you are filming through a windshield your characters sitting inside a car, you may ordinarily see the reflection of the sky on the windshield, making your characters nearly impossible to make out.  

Very simply put, a polarizer filter will filter out light from certain angles, so you may get far better results if you were photographing the examples I mentioned above with a polarizer filter attached to your camera lens.  Have a look at this example I photographed that illustrates the use of a polarizing filter perfectly:

These two pictures have been photographed one after the other; the only difference is in the second one the polarizer is used.  It is very clear that the reflection on the bonnet is now eliminated. 

This simple technique can also be successfully used when photographing shiny plants that would ordinarily reflect white, turning them into their natural beautiful bright green on your video, or water surfaces turning them clear and transparent.  Since most of the brightness of the sky is glare, a very bright sky can also be made into a richer, slightly darker blue by photographing it with a polarizer filter. 

If you are now considering purchasing yourself a polarizer filter, first check that your camera has a thread to screw it into.  Also see if there are numbers on or around your lens indicating the size of filters and lenses that can be used with your camera, so that you buy the right size.

If your video camera doens't have a thread for lenses and filters, most photography shops have other alternatives, from clip-on lenses to attachment systems that hold up filters in front of the camera's lens.

Or simly consider upgrading to a higher end camera, for there are many more wonderful filters and lenses it will enable you to make use of  with your camera.