How to Use Welding Glass for Long Exposure Photography

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.

one dollar solution for long exposure photography

Welding glass for ND filters

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.

one dollar neutral density filter

Attach the welding glass to your lens with rubber bands.

These are some of the shots that Stern managed to get using the improvised ND filter:

shooting long exposure photography with welding glass

long exposure photography solution

do it yourself ND filter

Downsides of Using Welding Glass as a ND Filter

This innovative technique is not without issues.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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2 Comments

  1. Jan says:

    This is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time but the cost is prohibitive if it turns out I don’t take it up seriously. Thus my question: where do you buy welding glass from, please?

    • Rick says:

      Try a hardware store…

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