I have never trusted lens shades. That doesn’t mean I don’t use them. I use them religiously. I just don’t trust ‘em. They are generally somewhat flimsy, plastic things, that, once in place, are an assist to your lens, to be sure, but the marriage to your lens is about as solid and lasting as a set of drunken wedding vows uttered at 3am on the Vegas strip. Meaning the mounts generally suck, and the lens and the shade are going to part ways, most likely in rapid fashion. You clip them on, bayonet them into place, and then start rattling through your day in the field, camera perhaps on your hip, bumping along, and it’s just a matter of time before that protruding piece of plastic hits something–a subway turnstile, a door, a crossing pedestrian (in NYC, in rush hour, in Christmas season, the sidewalks are a non-stop rugby scrum)–anything really, can send this piece of plastic crap spinning through the air and onto the ground with a familiar sounding clatter.
Hence, I always tape my lens hoods. There’s generally multiple little bits and pieces of gaffer tape festooning the tulip shapes of the shades in my bag. I put the shade on, then wedge this little stitch of gaff into the seam with my fingernail, and presto, it locks in there in far more durable fashion.
So, just last week, I was in the middle of a coverage where, to quote Monty Python, it was good not to be seen. Creeping along, cameras in quiet drive mode, I shot a frame here, a frame there. Then I noticed I hadn’t engaged the Gaffer Tape Locking Mechanism! The tape was on the lens hood, but, it was just on the lens hood, not in the seam where it’s helpful. So I thought I’d take care of that, and started to peel off about a square inch of tape. And of course, the lens shade peeled off with it.
I felt like I was in one of those slo-mo action sequences you see in a movie. I saw the hood cartwheeling into the air in merry fashion, spinning with abandon, and reached in vain to grab it. Of course I missed. And watched it skitter onto a tile floor with the telltale, and unfortunately loud burst of clacks and taps, as if someone had let a woodpecker loose in the room.
Right in the middle of a speech by a Nobel Laureate. Of course it wasn’t that loud, but to my cringing, trying to become invisible photog self, it sounded for all the world as if someone next to me had just cut loose with a thirty caliber machine gun. D’oh! I sighed inwardly, and retrieved the errant shade, taped it dutifully, and went about my picture gathering.
How many years have I been doing this? After all this time, the ghost of Numnuts lurks…..more tk.