Long exposure photography can be a very expensive genre. At the least, it requires a decent tripod, a ball head or some other type of tripod head, and a set of neutral density filters. The bill can easily run into several hundred dollars. But there are less expensive DIY options. Photographer Mathieu Stern demonstrates this $1 trick that’s simply too irresistible to pass up:
For the above mentioned gear list, you could end up forking over around $700—probably even more for better quality gear. But with this neat little trick shared by Stern, all you need are a tripod and a pack of welding glasses.
With the help of two rubber bands he managed to attach the welding glass to the front of his lens. This allowed him to take a 30 second exposure in daylight.
These are some of the shots that Stern managed to get using the improvised ND filter:
Downsides of Using Welding Glass as a ND Filter
This innovative technique is not without issues.
- Welding glass has a strong green color cast. It’s difficult to get the original colors back in post processing, which is why a majority of the frames Stern captured went on to be processed in black and white.
- If you look closely, the corners of the frames are not sharp. The welding glass isn’t exactly of high quality optical standard. There is a lot of blurring, which will be absent in proper high quality ND filters.
- Since this is not a proper ND filter, the welding glass isn’t exactly neutral either. It’s partial to colors of a certain wavelength.
Even with the downsides, the results aren’t too bad for $1.
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