Lens Hood

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The day that my Nikon D40x was delivered by Fedex I opened up the box, took out the lens, attached it to the body of the camera and then I had this extra piece.  I didn’t know what the extra piece was and I had a new camera so I didn’t really care.  A year later when I was going through the boxes I found the extra piece again and discovered that it wasn’t an accidental addition to the packaging it was a Lens Hood. 

A Lens Hood is an accessory for your Lens – it can be attached (usually with a very easy twist to lock) to the end of your lens and it acts like the bill of a hat on your head for your lens.  When you are shooting in direct light or during those less then flattering times of day a Lens Hood can make the difference in getting evenly toned shots or shots with lens glare and flare.  I happen to like the look of lens flare from a creative stand point but it’s an inexact science that I prefer to add in Photoshop after a shoot.  When you are not using the Lens Hood most models allow you to attach the hood to the lens in the opposing direction so it remains flush with the lens (like wearing your hat backwards).  

Most lenses for Digital SLR’s came with a Lens Hood but they are most common with Telephoto lenses.  There are two types of hoods.  A Deep Hood has the same depth the entire hood and a Flower Hood which has a deeper brim on the top and bottom and shower brim on each side of the hood.  A Flower Hood is an important tool when shooting with telephoto lenses as it avoids vignetting around the shot.  I also don’t mind vignetting, but again I like to add it in Photoshop or another photo editing tool so that if I crop my raw image I can apply the vignette effect properly.

Another reason to use a lens hood is to preserve the color in a shot.  I’ve seen this a few times in my own photographs that the extra light and the color cast of the light that came into the lens at the point of exposure caused the color to appear muted or discolored.  Like this shot:
CassJustCurious 2009-01-18
If I had used a Lens Hood I likely would have captured the brilliance of the color in this shot.  I still wouldn’t have loved this shot but it would have improved it.  That’s part of the gift of digital photography though – I take a lot of shots and I look at them all.  I spend almost as much time looking at the shots that I do not like then I do looking at the shots I love.  I learn so much more about light, composition, balance and proper settings/exposure from the shots I don’t like.  

 What do you think?  Do you like Vignetting in your shots?  What about lens flare?  Do you use your Lens Hood or is yours still in the box?

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