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Three Cheers for the Gold-N-Blue

The Singh-Ray "Gold-N-Blue" polarizer is a specialized filter that I don't often use. But there are times when it proves down right indispensable. A regular polarizer blocks reflected light polarized at certain angles and allows other light to pass. You can select which reflections are affected by rotating the filter. The Gold-N-Blue works the same way, but rather than merely blocking light polarized at certain angles, it selectively colors it anywhere between deep blue and radiant gold.

You can use it to add a touch of color to an image otherwise lacking it. If sunrise isn't cooperating the way you'd hoped it would, a slight turn of the Gold-N-Blue polarizer will let you add a golden glow where you want it and deepen the cool blue white balance of shadows elsewhere. Turn it slightly differently and you can accentuate the color in the clouds or whatever else strikes your fancy.

It's an easy filter to overdo, so be careful. If you're someone who tends to adjust a regular polarizer to crank up its effect to the maximum, consider yourself warned. When used in moderation, the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue can contribute to compelling images, but if you go for the gusto with it your results will appear somewhat surreal. With the filter mounted, its effect will be visible in the viewfinder, but be aware that what may appear nice at first can become a bit much when enlarged to print later on.

If you shoot in RAW format, you can fine tune the effect in post processing by adjusting the white balance. Making an image cooler will bring out the blue from the filter while toning down the gold colors. Warming up the white balance will accentuate the gold effect while partially neutralizing the blue. If there are colors in the image you want to make sure are neutralized, simply click on it with the white balance eyedropper tool as normal. It's completely up to you.

Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota shot with a Singh-ray Gold-N-Blue polarizer   Another Gold-N-Blue version of Mt. Rushmore
Two image of Mt. Rushmore shot with the Singh-Ray Gold-N'Blue polarizer. Effects such as these and many other variations are possible.

Since it is a polarizer, its effect will be less pronounced in overcast conditions. When the sun does peek out though, be ready to shoot. Also as a polarizer, the Gold-N-Blue will cost you a couple of stops of light so be ready to deal with slow shutter speeds especially if you use it at dawn or dusk when light levels are lower anyway. A tripod is a must for such situations. You can use this filter in mid-day sun too so long as you compose the shot to avoid obvious cues such as shadow direction that put the lie to the "golden hour" illusion you are trying to create.

Cokin does make a similar Blue/Yellow polarizer, but in my experience it is much harder to get natural looking image with it. It tends to produce images with more of a pop art effect that is hard to control. Singh-Ray definitely costs more, but you get what you pay for if you ask me.

A little is all you need to add an extra special touch to the image that needs it. Once you get the hang of it, you'll likely find any number of occasions to use it. And since it takes up so little room in your camera bag, why not take it along and give it a try?

A somewhat lackluster sunset in Frenchman Coulee in Eastern Washington state. No filter was used.
A somewhat lackluster sunset in Frenchman Coulee in Eastern Washington state. No filter was used.
  Sunset in Frenchman Coulee accentuated with the Gold-N-Blue
Sunset in Frenchman Coulee accentuated with the Gold-N-Blue
Dawn at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Dawn at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, South Dakota
  Sunset at Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington state
Sunset at Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington state

Date posted: November 5, 2006

 

Copyright © 2006 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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Essential Filters: Polarizers
 

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