Use a Polarizing Filter
Next to a solid tripod and ballhead, the accessory every landscape photographer must have is a polarizing filter. Using one will darken the sky (thereby making clouds stand out), will remove reflections from water, plus it will make leaves and foliage appear less shiny. Color saturation is also enhanced. These effects cannot be fashioned with image processing software.
Why Use Polarizers? (Free Video)
Polarization displays maximum effect at ninety degrees to the sun. The farther your angle varies from this ninety degree angle the less impact the filter will produce. Because of this, extreme wide angle lenses (and stitched panoramas) often yield uneven polarizing effects across the sky. Also, since this filter blocks light, it will affect your exposure (which isn’t a big problem since most cameras meter the light passing through the lens). I’d recommend a circular polarizer over a linear polarizer.
If you want to significantly improve your landscape images, use a polarizing filter!
What and Why
This image was taken by a Nikon D200 digital camera setting on a solid tripod while wearing a Tamron AF 17-50mm 1:2.8 Digital lens zoomed out to 42mm. A Hoya Circular Polarizer filter was used. Exposure was matrix metered with an aperture priority of f/11 coupled with a 1/500th second shutter speed along with ISO-200 dialed in.