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Polarized Lighting

The use of polarizing filters on the lens and in front of the light sources greatly reduces the surface reflections from many specimens, including shiny leaves. Hang polarizing sheets in front of the light sources making sure they are mounted in the same orientation. (To check their orientation do this: place the 2 sheets together looking into a light source and rotate one of them. When they are oriented together you will see the light source, when they are “cross polarized” no light will be transmitted and the light source will go dark). Place a rotating polarizing filter on the camera lens, and rotate it until the reflections off the specimen surface are extinguished. When using polarized lighting you will lose approximately 3 f/stops of light, so use a higher ISO film, higher ISO setting on digital camera, or brighter light sources such as a studio flash.

Examples of Polarized and Non-polarized lighting.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.