How & Why To Polarise Light in Studio Photography

*This class was recorded live & now available for replay.*

Polarising studio light, although not a commonly used technique, can be incredibly useful in commercial photography. But, you have to know when, why and how to do it.

This knowledge will equip you with an extra level of control, which is particularly useful when shooting reflective or shiny surfaces, or even shots with multiple surface textures.

In this show, Karl explains what polarised light is and demonstrates how it works through three different practical shoots. He explains the difference between polarising your light and polarising the lens, what each does, and what happens when you do both.

Topics covered in this show include:

  • What is polarised light
  • How to polarise light
  • Cross polarisation
  • The difference between polarising light and polarising the lens
  • Linear vs circular polarisers
  • Polarising metal

Links: Polarization of light, linear and circular

If you have any questions about this show, please post in the comment section below.


  1. This is an excellent subject to talk about and I appreciate the effort it takes to explain the science and the effect of polarization in this video. I feel like this is could be that “aha!” moment to bring up my photography to the next level. Thumbs up emoji.

  2. I don’t know how to thank you Karl for this extremely useful workshop, and I don’t how to describe my happiness for joining your online education center…

    Thank you for everything!

  3. Loved the session, very informative and I learned a lot already. I knew about polarizers and have used them but never in the light source, main take away for me. Your grace in answering some of those questions is saint-like. I’m new to your course and look forward to the rest of the program. Thank you Karl.

  4. Great tour of how to make and use polarised light Karl – really enjoyed watching that. Incidentally – LCD screens are a usable source of polarised light (as long as you need a flat panel of light): I took this handheld test shot 10 years ago using a Samsung LCD monitor as the light source – using the exact same technique Karl used on the last set-up in the video. I just made a pure white image in Photoshop and displayed it full-screen.

    They are very dim of course. But that shouldn’t matter if everything is locked down in a dark room and there’s no movement involved. I’ve never used this for anything since though :-/

    Just ordered a new sheet of polarising gel (from Stage Gear in the UK) Rosco 730011 is the code for it. The Lee code is 239

  5. For many years I was going to do shots like the last set up.. This course refreshed some infos for me and added more in great details. As always, thank you so much I appreciate all your efforts as well as the team behind you.. Be safe!

  6. Hi Karl. In my product shots accurate colour is really important. When you polarize the light the overall colour appears to change. How do I correct the polarised image so that the product still looks the correct colour.

    1. Hi, technically the colours aren’t changing, they were always there they were just being obscured by the polarized light. However I do understand what you mean, essentially we end up with colours that look more saturated so it would make sense that a little desaturation would bring them back to a perceptual perspective.

  7. FYI, Fotodiox makes extension tubes for the X Series of Hasselblad cameras which also provide electric connections for metering and focus etc. They work quite well.

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