Ever taken a beautiful shot of a brilliant sunny day, only to look at the photo on your computer and see that the sky is a sad, washed out white, overwhelmed by greenery? For a long time, I didn't realize there was a way around this. You might recall seeing dazzling landscape shots with pearly white clouds dashed across a sapphire blue sky, the dome of the Hagia Sophia, the London Eye or the Eiffel Tower in the background. Well, this isn't out of reach for casual photographers.
Photographers achieve this rich, saturated effect with a polarizing filter— a relatively inexpensive, thin glass cap that you screw into the end of your lens. Rays of light have waves that move in different ways— a polarizing filter blocks out certain directions of polarization, which adds saturation, helps with overexposure on a bright sunny day, and removes reflections and glare. This can help you capture photos of pebbles at the bottom of a cool stream, or a carefully set up food photography shot without having a brilliant glare on your utensils.
Polarizing filters works best when the sun is at your side. Turn the filter and you'll notice the effect increase or decrease as you're looking through the viewfinder.
Take a look at the difference in this sunny scene!
How about in Thames river?
You can see the effect here on the surface of this coffee table, and the glare of metals in food photography can be greatly reduced.
I'm using a Hoya 52mm filter, on my 40mm 1:2.8 Micro Nikkor Lens. If you're in an area with a Blacks, go check them out— they have great sales right now as they are sadly going out of business. I bought this one for about 30$.
Find out which filter works with your camera's lens and give it a try! For a relatively low cost, I really think the difference in your photos is worth it, and I think you will too! :)
Much love, happy shooting! (photos, that is)