As I was packing my kit for a recent trip away, I whined to myself as I removed yet another lens hood from yet another lens.
"Bloody lens hoods," I muttered out loud. "Who even uses these bloody things any more?"
It was an idle comment, spurred more by the oppressive heat and the frenzy of packing everything at double-speed (due, fittingly enough, to a camera lens being sent to the wrong depot, so the courier didn't deliver it on time).
But then I stopped for a moment and thought about it more earnestly: seriously, who does use lens hoods these days?
Now, let me get this out of the way first: yes, I know what a lens hood does and I know why you should use one. I spent four years in commercial and editorial photography, and hoods were a requisite part of my kit bag.
However, so was a light meter. And unless I'm shooting on film, or using an elaborate multi-flash setup, I don't use that any more, either.
Times change. Photography changes. What were once considered imperfections and flaws in your images, changes. I haven't worn a hood on my lenses in years – and when I come to think about it, nor do any of my photographer friends.
Admittedly that's a bit of a stacked deck. Most of said photographer friends shoot portraiture, typically of the free-flowing variety that welcomes things like lens flare and hazy contrast.
Which isn't to say that all portrait photographers hate lens hoods. Indeed, I was at a photography social once where a chap was proselytizing about the importance of lens hoods for his client portraiture.
I deferred to his point, conceding that things like lens flare aren't everybody's cup of tea – especially if shooting for clients.
"Oh no, I quite like lens flare. But I put it in digitally."
So… if you like lens flare, why don't you just ditch the lens hood and get actual lens flare?
I mean, I kind of get it. A lot of people edit their images, often to an agonized degree, and add elements in post rather than capture them in-camera. But this particular instance just left me scratching my head.
Anyway, I've said my piece. I don't use lens hoods. But I would love to know if you do, and why, and what kind of photography you shoot!