Polarizing filters don’t always work

Polarizing filters weren’t compatible with flowers? Yes, it’s true. Well, this was a special case. I was a learner and was trying out various things. I was in a phase of trying anything that might make my photos pop. Well, this time I learned what didn’t work!

This story happened at Shinjuku Gyoen in 2017. I went to see its chrysanthemums. They were superb. It was a glorious day. The flowers were at their peak, and for a weekday, many people were there to see them. That meant I waited a lot to get pictures with no one in them.

Shinjuku Gyoen is the best place to see chrysanthemums in Tokyo. To start with, it’s a fantastic park. And the quality of the flowers was superb. If I remember correctly, they had six display areas in the Japanese Garden. Someone might need to correct me on that. Each area displayed one variety.

There are several different types of chrysanthemums, but my favorite was the ozukuri. Ozukuri is a giant dome made up of hundreds of blooms. They’re awesome. Their display always consists of three of these under one roof. There is a yellow in the middle with a white on either side. It is beautiful.

For this trip, I took a polarizing filter with me. I thought I’d try it to see if it would make a difference in my photos. Unfortunately, I forgot one thing.

What was the problem with my polarizing filters?

You put polarizing filters in front of the lens. They darken skies and help manage reflections and glare. So that means there must be sunlight between your subject and the lens. The chrysanthemums at Shinjuku Gyoen were in display booths. That means they were in the shade – oops! Most of the shots here were without any benefit of the filter. So much for that idea!

Anyway, I used a polarizer only a few times again. They were difficult to use. More precisely, I thought they weren’t consistent in their effect. I bought three or four, but they only sit inside a drawer collecting dust these days.


Shinjuku Gyoen has world-class chrysanthemums. The growers and staff put a lot of effort into the displays. And the park isn’t only about these flowers. In other seasons, there are roses and cherry blossoms.

And remember this lesson about polarizing filters! They don’t work on anything in the shade. But maybe some of you already knew that!

Leave comments and questions in the section below. By the way, did you visit the  2017 Shinjuku Gyoen chrysanthemums? If you did, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2017 Shinjuku Gyoen chrysanthemums photo gear:

  • Camera Body: X-T2
  • Lens: XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
  • Polarizing filters

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