When I bought my very first DSLR camera, right after the new year, I didn't want to spend a lot on extras until I got to know the camera. I just needed the basics: a lens hood, a lens cleaning kit, a good camera case, and my personal 'I-can't-live-without-it' gadget: a polarizing filter!!!
If you use an SLR or a DSLR and you don't know what a polarizer is, you are really missing out. Perhaps you own a pair of polarizing sunglasses. Think about how well they cut the glare! If you are like me, on a sunny day, you can't manage without those sunglasses! A polarizer is a rotating filter, with two pieces of polarized glass. When you rotate the filter, you can get the sky to darken, and eliminate reflections or glare on water. Rotated the other way, the photo will look pretty much as though you have not used a filter at all. The effect from rotating can be really dramatic.
The photos in this post are totally non-edited, straight from the camera. I have done no computer editing! The color differences in each pair are simply due to my rotation of my polarizer. Keep in mind, how well the polarizer works will depend on your relationship to the sun; it will work best when you and the sun are at right angles. Also, keep in mind that I foolishly was moderately frugal and while I thought at the time I was buying a decent polarizer, it won't be long before I'll be trading it in for a better quality filter. I am not satisfied.
By the way, as I said before, had I shot these photos without the polarizer, the results would pretty much look like the photos on the right in each pair (or the bottom photo in the pair above). The photos on the left were created by rotating the filter to darken and bring out the richness in the sky. For the most part, I prefer the photos on the left, which, by darkening the sky, made the colors of the newly budded trees lighter and more vibrant. You can see what the polarizer did to the water in some of these photos, too. Which do you prefer? Do you use a polarizer with your camera?