What better to do on a rainy day than to play with my best friend, Pesto the Barred Parakeet (A.K.A. Pesto the Pest). Together, we tested the new Nikon DSLR, the D810. Equipped with a Nikon AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens and the Speedlight R1 macro flash system, we tested cross polarization and Wildlife Photography.

Our model, Pesto the Pest upside down and Cross PolarizedOur model, Pesto the Pest upside down and Cross Polarized

What is cross polarization and why use it? Very simple, look at the portrait of Pesto below. Notice that there are no reflections on the beak and only very little reflection of my setup appears in the eye of the beast! With cross-polarization, it is possible to remove 100% of the light reflections from our flashes on our subjects.

Pesto the Pest - Cross Polarized PortraitPesto the Pest – Cross Polarized Portrait

The technique is very simple. To successfully apply cross-polarized lighting on your subject, it takes but a polarizing filter on the lens and a polarizing filter on the source of light that will illuminate the subject. It is important to keep the filters in the exact same orientation on all your light sources and to keep them parallel to your lens. Once all the filters are installed in the same identical way, adjust the polarizing filter on the lens to the desired level of polarization. (To maintain auto-focus you must use a circular polarized filter, not a linear polarizing filter on the lens.)

Pesto the Pest in all his splendor (Cross Polarized)Pesto the Pest in all his splendor (Cross Polarized)

My macro setup was not ideal for a subject the size of Pesto (Bolborhynchus lineola). The working distance for my macro flash system was a bit far and the desirable depth of field somewhat difficult to obtain with a macro lens. I did not use a diffusers for testing, resulting in harsher light. It is always better to install the polarizing filters on the lights after all diffusers and other filters. If the polarized light travels through a diffuser or clear plastic filter holder, the polarized light may be altered and the polarization effect reduced. (The plastic filter holders provided with Nikon Speedlight flashes affect polarization and must not be used to hold the polarized filter in place)

PHOTO: Nikon D810 – Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED – Flash Speedlight R1 (SB-R200 X2) – Nikon Speedlight SB-910 (X1 Background) – HOYA PRO1D CIRCULAR PL – Rosco Polarising filter 730011 (on the flashes) EXIF: 1/60 ISO 560 f/11

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