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The Most Important Camera Accessory #89

The Most Important Camera Accessory #89

The Most Important Camera Accessory #89

Photo Tips Podcast: The Most Important Camera Accessory #89
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The Most Important Camera Accessory #89

Lens hoods are probably one of the most useful pieces of equipment that is often missing from amateur photographer’s camera bags. And I think it’s because they don’t understand the utility of it. The lens hood is round piece of plastic that attaches to the front of a lens. The purpose of a lens hood is to throw shade on the lens to prevent flare. Lens flare is caused when a bright light, like the sun is raking across the front of the lens. At certain angles the lens flare may cause little circles of light that can enhance the look of the image; it’s very 70’s. But most of the time it doesn’t do that and they just look like stray dots of light on the image. The dots can have a color to it but most of the time they are yellow or whitish. The worst case scenario is when it rakes across the image and makes everything look foggy or blurry. This is often so subtle most people don’t see it on their little LCD screen but when compared with other images taken in the same area without flare you’ll notice that there is a huge difference. As a result most people don’t notice that this is happening until it’s too late; like when you are done with the shoot and are 100 miles from that spot. This is why my lens hoods live on my lenses, even at night. Because I shoot in urban environments, street lights can also cause lens flare. And by letting my hood live on my lens I can mostly forget about this problem. But be aware that flare can still happen even with a hood on the lens and even with the appropriate hood. If you are point your lens right at the light source your hood will not help you to avoid flare. Another reason you may still get flare is because your hood just isn’t large enough to cover every angle that the light is coming from. One way to overcome this is to use your hand or a magazine to throw shade on your lens. This may be a little bit tricky depending on the angle of the light and you’ll need to take care not to put your hand in the middle of the shot. Aside from protecting your images from flare, your hood will also give your lens a little extra protection. As you walk around with your camera, you might bump into things. The hood acts as a little bit of a bumper.

Another reason that many people do not like to carry their hood is because it’s big and cumbersome. What most people don’t know is that you can turn your lens hood upside down. Yes you can attach the hood in the reverse direction so that your lens is not any longer than when it doesn’t have the hood on. I also recently had a couple of participants tell me that their hood does not work because it obstructs the corners of their image and creates black areas. If this is happening you have either mis-mounted your hood or you have the wrong hood on your lens. Each lens has a specific hood design, so make sure you have the right hood on your lens, not just one that fits the diameter.

Lastly, the only time I would not use a hood is if you are using a pop up flash. The flash sits just a little too low on the camera and as a result the hood obstructs the light and you’ll get a big shadow across the bottom of your image.

Other than that I would suggest you use your hood all the time. It should really live on your lens.


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