But turning just a smidge to the left, the sun begins to creep into my lens, creating lens flare and low-contrast haze that make pictures hard to manage. Sometimes you might want this effect - it can be quite powerful, but it wasn't exactly what I was going for on this particular afternoon.
So how do we fight it? We have to find a way to shield our cameras from the sun's glare, keeping the rays from directly entering our lenses.
In a perfect world, we'd want to capture only the light that's bouncing off of our subjects. When that light is combined with the light bouncing off of the lawn, from the neighbor's metal shed and even directly from the sun, our images lose detail and become rather hazy. Using a lens hood goes a long way to keeping the light ping-ponging around in the atmosphere from dilluting the light coming off of our subject.
A lens hood is a natural choice for outdoor photography. It's a plastic fitting made for the end of your lens that blocks random light from entering your lens. It acts as somewhat of a sun visor for the end of your camera. You can pick one up for almost any sized lens at your local camera store or online.
But this afternoon, I'd left mine inside. So what did I do? I held my left hand just to the left of my lens, blocking out the worst of the direct rays and... voila!
Not bad, eh?
So next time you find yourself outside shooting - save yourself some haze by adopting a lens hood - or making creative use of your free hand!