Do Your Sunset Photos Deserve the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer Filter?

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In these days of digital photography, stumbling upon a semi-secret, not well-known photographic tool is a rare pleasure. Enter the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue polarizer filter. With the power of modern digital cameras and post-processing software, we tend to think that anything we want to see in an image can be created, either in the camera, or certainly on the computer in the digital darkroom. Photographic lens filters, once common in the camera bags of black-and-white film photographers, have seen their usefulness decline in the digital world. However, there are two kinds of filters, besides the UV/haze/clear protection filters, that still have a role in today’s digital world—the neutral density filter (ND) and the circular polarizing filter (CPL).

Some would consider the CPL filter as mandatory equipment in the camera bags of many—especially landscape photographers. The Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue polarizing filter is a circular polarizer that punches up the color in your scene with either a blue or gold tone—selectable as you rotate the filter the way you would a standard CPL filter.

This sounds pretty “gimmicky,” right? For me, colored filters hark back to the days of black-and-white photography, or drug-store cheapo filter kits with prisms, star points, and other “fun” options. So, when I first read about the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter, I wasn’t thinking it was all that serious—despite the fact that it is one of the more expensive CPL filters on the market. Well, I can tell you, I was wrong on many accounts.

Polarizers are most effective at right angles to the sun but, here, the Gold-N-Blue filter still adds a nice color cast to the image. Both images were processed identically from the original raw files.

Singh-Ray filters have been virtually handmade in Florida for more than 50 years—no mass production. The Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue polarizing filter comes in a beautiful leatherette case—not in a plastic box—a nice touch. I opted for the thin filter because I knew I was going to be shooting on wide-angle lenses. The disadvantage of the thin filter is that there are no front threads for stacking filters as there are on the standard Gold-N-Blue. Some users state that you cannot add ND filters to the thin Gold-N-Blue, but I easily added the Singh-Ray to an ND filter with the Singh-Ray in front. Alone, the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter has a 4x filter factor and reduces light by 2 stops.

The Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter has a high-quality feel and the manner in which you “dial-in” the effect, spinning the filter as you would any standard CPL filter, allows you deliberate control over how much or how little color cast you wish to apply. This control of the color tones, combined with quality feel of the filter, makes using the Gold-N-Blue anything but a gimmick.

Gold, blue, and no filter

The Singh-Ray website has tips for the Gold-N-Blue polarizer and I will paraphrase them here:

  1. The Gold-N-Blue works best with large areas of sky and water or ice… or tighter shots with moving water (i.e. waterfalls).
  2. Try with variable-ND filters or graduated ND filters.
  3. Experiment!
  4. Like all polarizers, the polarizing effect is greatest at right angles to the sunlight. But, try the Gold-N-Blue even when there is no direct sunlight.
  5. Custom white balance can remove any magenta cast, or shoot raw files and adjust after capture.
Blue, gold, and no filter

Let’s be clear. The Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter, as with most polarizers, will not be riding on the front of your lens 24/7. Some photographers will have a CPL semi-permanently mounted when shooting on bright sunny days but, usually, CPL filters are employed when it is advantageous to do so. The Gold-N-Blue polarizer will be that filter you break out on three primary occasions: The first is when you are enjoying shooting a waterscape or landscape with good sun and clouds and want to experiment with the Gold-N-Blue to see what you get after you get your “safe” shots. Black-and-white photographers will appreciate being able to dial-in some non-global contrast as opposed to using full-color filters. The third, and maybe most important time you will break out the Gold-N-Blue, is when the light is dull and kind of crap and the color casts and polarizing qualities of the Gold-N-Blue might just turn a bleak landscape into something visually interesting.

The same images as above, converted identically to black-and-white

My guess is that most photographers will not want to go for the Gold-N-Blue effect on every photo, or even use it daily, but the filter is fun to play with and, my other guess is that those who acquire this CPL filter will definitely have it as standard equipment in their camera bag for those days during which the sky or water could use a bit more punch, or days when the light is being uncooperative and the Gold-N-Blue is given the opportunity to save the photo shoot. Check the wider Internet and the “Singh-Ray Gold ’n’ Blue Polarizer” Flickr group for more images taken with the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer filter.

The filter works on your smartphone, as well!

Are your sunsets deserving of the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer Filter? Are you wanting to add one to your quiver? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

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