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Using a lens hood indoors

Shape light and harness the versatility of lens hoods indoors...

Should you use a lens hood indoors?

There is an easy answer, even if it might be a cop-out. As you improve upon your expertise as a photographer, you’ll learn that the attitude of “do what feels right and do what you want” are both solid pieces of advice.

Because a lens hood will not make or break a session. With that said, it’s good practice to understand what exactly a lens hood does. Afterward, it will be much easier for you to answer the internal dialogue about “should I use a lens hood indoors?”

What is a lens hood?

You may first be wondering what exactly a lens hood is in the first place. Simply put, a lens hood is a piece of plastic that can be affixed to the end of a camera lens. The plastic can either be cylindrical or feature a “petal” shape. While each shape is distinct in its own right, it doesn’t really offer much difference in functionality.

But what does a lens hood do for you as a photographer? In theory, a lens hood is meant to block excessive light from creeping into your lens from the sides. When light enters your camera from the side of the lens, you can get an effect known as “lens flare.”

While some photographers will use that effect to their advantage, many would rather not have it appear in their shots at all. For this reason, a lens hood is a necessary accessory in your photographic arsenal.

An added benefit to a lens hood is that it is a barrier between a nasty fall and your precious camera lens. As you probably already know, a decent camera lens is a steep investment. The last thing you want is to have it shatter from dropping it. If a lens hood has been affixed to your lens, then there’s a good chance the only damage sustained will be to your relatively inexpensive hood.

To summarize, a lens hood is a great tool for removing or reducing the chance of lens flare in your shots while also acting as added protection to your expensive array of camera lenses, should they be dropped or sustain any other kind of physical impact.

Why or why not use a lens hood indoors?

The question of “Should I use a lens hood indoors?” can be as complicated or as easy a question as you want it to be. It’s easier if you break the question down into two components based on the benefits a proper lens hood gives you as a photographer.

1. Do you want to mitigate lens flare?

If you’re not a fan of lens flare, then it goes without saying that you should invest in a lens hood for your camera lenses. Lens flares are very common during indoor photo shoots due to the occasional intensity of your artificial light source. While a lens flare might be natural in a naturalistic setting, it might stand out too much in an interior photo session.

2. Are you clumsy?

As mentioned earlier, lens hoods are decent protection for your camera lens. If you’re a clumsy person prone to dropping your equipment or just plan to shoot on rugged, uneven, or slippery terrain, then you should have a lens hood over your camera.

What would you rather replace, an inexpensive lens hood or an extremely expensive camera lens? The answer is simple!

3. Does your lens lay flush against its casing?

The final thing you should consider when asking, “Should I use a lens hood indoors?” is whether your camera lens already has one built in. The fact is that many shorter camera lenses feature a glass lens that is relatively recessed from the outer edge of the lens casing. If that’s the case, you’ve already got a hood that will reduce lens flares and protect your glass. Most of all, if you’re sporting a stout macro lens you may need to get extremely close to your subject for optimal focusing.

Having a lens hood may ruin your ability to approach your subject closely.

When to use a lens hood?

If you’ve already answered the question “Should I use a lens hood indoors?”, then you may be wondering when exactly you should use a lens hood. Once again, the answer is entirely circumstantial. Let’s break it down into its components so you can answer it for yourself.

1. How strict is your composition?

Some photographers are staunch artists because they want to control every component of a shot, down to the lighting. Other photographers take a more naturalistic approach to the medium. Lens flare can be an asset to your photography or a detractor, depending on what you are trying to shoot.

To put it simply, if you want strict control over your lighting and want your subjects to look exactly how you’ve staged them, then invest in a lens hood.

2. How intense is your light source?

The more sunlight or artificial light apparent in your shot, the more likely you’ll have light coming into your camera from the sides of the lens. This, of course, will produce lighting artifacts that you may want to keep in your photographs or may want to eliminate.

If you’re dealing with intense sunlight or intense artificial light, you should invest in a lens hood unless you want to experiment with the artifacts that light creates in your camera lens.

3. Is your camera lens super expensive?

If your camera lens was a big investment, then there’s no reason you should leave it unprotected. While a lens cap will serve its purpose, it cannot be affixed to the lens when it is in use. For this reason, you’ll want to have a durable lens hood connected to the end of your lens to protect it from damage, should it occur.

Lens hood vs. no lens hood

Having a lens hood and knowing how to put on a lens hood are important parts of being a professional photographer. Even if you don’t have a hood on your current lens, you should at least know why they’re used in the industry.

Let’s break down having a lens hood versus not having one.

1. Lens hoods look professional

A camera with a lens hood, whether you like it or not, looks more professional to your clients, even if it’s not currently doing much for your shooting session. If you’ve been in this business long enough, you understand that appearances matter.

2. Lens hoods protect your lens

While it’s not sure-fire, having a lens hood on your nice lens beats leaving it open to falling, impact, or other physical damage. Why risk damaging your expensive lens when you could affix it with a lens hood for less than $30?

3. Lens hoods minimize light distortion

Having a lens hood on your camera lens isn’t going to hurt anything. It may also minimize light distortion that could otherwise ruin a shot.

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