Lens Caps

In Life Is Short, Rants and Sermons, The Life Creative by David22 Comments

I’m not sure whether anyone needs to hear this or I just needed to say it. But it’s starting to feel like the spirit of our current time is fear and fear often leads us to build walls around our hearts, to do what we can to protect ourselves. And the thing that was meant to protect us quickly becomes the thing that binds us. Incarcerates our hearts. Makes misers of once generous spirits.  Have a good weekend, friends.

I object to lens caps on a metaphorical level. Symbols of our need to protect the fragile parts of ourselves, they’re better at obscuring our vision than they are at keeping the glass intact. Besides, these lenses are more resilient than we believe them to be. So are we.

How many moments do we miss by fumbling for these damn things.How much light do we shut out.

We’re so fucking careful. We could stand to be a little more reckless, to give fewer damns about the water spots and the dust and just really see these moments all the way through before slamming that black plastic back on. Safe. But blind.

My biggest fear is not getting to the end of this Assignment with my lens scarred and dinged, my lens caps long lost or gathering in the bottom of my bag with the dust and sand from that one beach in Thailand, sand that no “real” photographer would let near his cameras but we were too busy savouring life, as Riboud said, at one hundredth of a second, to really care.

No, my biggest fear is finding that I’ve protected myself from the very things that would give depth and passion and meaning to the one photograph I really wanted to make with my life.

Besides, I love the way the little flaws flare out with all the colours of the spectrum when the light hits the front of the lens. And it does hit the front of the lens, more often than not these days, because there’ll be time enough to look shadow-ward. At the end.

I want to look relentlessly, with my eyes always open, my lens uncovered. I want to peer into places that make me uncomfortable. Places that make me dizzy with delight. Places that challenge the way I see the world. I want an unflinching gaze. I want to be that person with the wild look in his eye because he sees something he’s never seen before and it enlarges his heart and his imagination past the point he ever dreamed possible. I want to see it all.

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  1. Thank you! I hate my lens cap, I have missed more great shots of the kids. the dogs, the horse bc of it,
    I bought a clear filter to protect my lens and tossed the cap. Now explain to my husband this process…

  2. Seems like I saw some Cannon lens caps that had the string on them for sale on Ebay. I keep laying them down and losing them, it drives me crazy. There must be some way to attach these to the camera somehow. I am typing this right now, you know why? Yep, lost my 55-250 lens cap, right here while sitting on my bed and can’t find it, shaking the covers out and everything. So frustrated.

  3. Interesting perspective. Can’t say I’ve ever stopped to think about it. Normally keep the lens cap off when out and about but always keep the UV on.

  4. lens cap off – you can get really good impressions 🙂 But sometimes it is on – depending on the situation! 🙂

  5. Well, my 300mm f2.8 has a nice big scuff on the outer lens element and it still takes great photos. My old UPI bureau chief had a 3mm chunk out of the outer element of his 200mm. Again, no problem. It’s about the image, not the equipment.

  6. When I saw the title of this post, I thought you were going to admonish those of us who walk around with lens cap off. Boy was I relieved. My fondest wish is that when I die every piece of photo gear I own will be well-used. Saddest thing I see on eBay are the cameras with descriptions: “Found it while cleaning out my late parent’s attic. Looks like the day they bought it.”

  7. I, as well, no lens cap, but UV filter on. Much less expensive to replace than the lens…
    Good little rant, David.

  8. A lens cap on a camera is like never printing an image

    You bring the essence of Eckhard Tolle’s “The power of now” into the world of photography.


  9. I believe everybody has his fears. Less or more. It’ s a human condition.
    And a “lens cap” is often necessary.
    Some have bigger lens caps. It is not a matter of personal will to take it of, instead of recognizing the fears behind.

    In the context of art and creative expression, I think too everybody has to deal with fears.
    Not all people are aware of this .
    It is also a matter how far I go with my “art”.
    In the field of photography it might be easier to make art or beeing creative.
    You just have to hit a button.
    In painting oder may be sculpting it might be different. Here you have a difficult process.

    This book might be helpful for all who deal with fears in art:
    Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles

    (Excuse my English.)

  10. You hit the button on this one 🙂 I also have been loving your last 3 posts. Keep drinking the whiskey and writing!
    I can’t help but notice some aren’t getting the “…lens caps on a metaphorical level.”
    Also along the same lines of some of your rants is an article “Why is art such a problem?” You might want to check it out https://outsidetherealitymachine.wordpress.com

  11. Man, your last 3 posts have been on fire and on point! Some crazy passion burning deep inside. Keep ’em coming. Oh, and thanks for leading with the bit on fear. My wife and I were just talking about that before I read your post last night. We will not be deterred by the things going on around us. Life’s too short to stop living it to the fullest.

  12. Your post recalled to mind Walker Evans’ wonderful quote:

    Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.

  13. Lens caps don’t bother me in the slightest. Always on in the bag, always off when out of the bag and the lens is on the camera. NEVER a UV or Skylight filter. Stopped doing that decades ago after a seminar with Bruce Dale and Steve McCurry and getting a chance to talk with them during a break.

  14. Maybe its the always careful amateur in me, moulded by my teen years when a lens was *really* expensive, but admittedly I use my lens caps, even bring spares when traveling. But other than Carter Cooper I don’t use that UV filter, wanting to get the best my lens is able to deliver.

    From time to time I make use of the lens flare when including the sun, but even that I’d like to “control”. Looks like I have to loose up a bit, maybe, later…

  15. Pingback: Lens Caps

  16. My lens cap is off, but you can be sure I have the UV, ‘safety’ filter on ! And that’s how I live much of my life– a little guarded. Thank you for the good word!!

    1. That’s the best way to live it too, Carter. At least I think so since I live it the same way 😉

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