Cross Polarizing Technique

© Kivake
Introduction: what do you get when you combine a polarized filter, a transparent plastic object, and a polarized light source? Answer: a really cool picture filled with a myriad of rainbow-like colors. The colors reveal stress lines in plastic objects, which are normally invisible. For more information, see , and scroll down to “Stress induced birefringence”.


DSLR (duh!)


Polarizing filter

Polarized light source (e.g. laptop LCD screen)

Transparent plastic object (e.g. measuring cup)


1. Adjust your laptop screen such that it’s perpendicular to the keyboard. Set your screen’s brightness to the maximum value, and fill it with a white image. I just open Notepad and maximize the window.

2. Mount your camera on a tripod in front of the screen, and put the polarizing filter on the lens.

3. Rotate the filter until the image through the viewfinder is black.

4. Place your transparent plastic object between the screen and the camera. Do you see those rainbow-like colors? Pretty cool eh? Now frame and focus.

5. Turn off or cover any other light sources, and take the shot using a remote release or your camera’s self-timer.

© Vlue

Enjoy! Please note the above has been adapted from Chris Gatcum’s Camera Creative.

Photo credits: Kivake, Vlue.

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April 18, 2011


Very interesting, I will sure give it a try.

April 18, 2011


wow nice

March 27, 2011


Thanks. Found out about it in Chris Gatcum's Camera Creative book.

March 26, 2011


Nice :D where did you find out about the technique?

March 23, 2011


Thanks, this is something new to me!

March 23, 2011


Nice pics,have read of it on Digital Camera few days ago;great result!

March 21, 2011



March 20, 2011


It is very interesting.

March 20, 2011


Interesting article. Thanks!

March 20, 2011


A very interesting technique indeed. You can do it in a macro situation with crystals, say of salt or sugar or old fashioned photo chemicals from the developers...

this link shows a couple of examples:

I hope it helps you..

March 20, 2011


nice pic and qualified article

March 20, 2011


Interesting and creative article,congratulations!

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