Produced by KelbyOne

$5 workaround

So here is the scenerio… you are taking time out to go on vacation and you are in an incredibly scenic area with lots of rivers and waterfalls, and when you get there, you realize you forgot to bring a neutral density filter… or maybe you have never used one before. When you start to take shots of the wonderful flowing water, it just looks blah. This is when you miss the power of being able to slow your shutter speed down enough to smooth out the water so that it is nice and silky. So you either… call your friend/spouse/neighbor etc… to mail you your filter, or you order a new one online since you can never have too many gadgets :D. It is at this point that you wish Amazon had the drone delivery system working, so you could order from you phone and have it dropped down to you in the river in 30 minutes. But alas, the very fact that you are in a remote wonderful place means that delivery of that much wanted/needed filter is probably two or three days away. Even one day delay can cause you to miss a lot, so here is the $5 work around while you are waiting.

Here is what a straight normal exposure looks like

Here is what a straight normal exposure looks like

Go to your nearest Hardware store (usually closer and more available than an actual photo store…) and find the welding area… and get a piece of dark welders glass that is used in the masks. I bought mine with tax for $5.33.

$5 filter

$5 filter

Now you will want to set your focus beforehand and then attach the glass to the front of your lens. I used two rubber bands and my lens hood to hold it in place. You will have to play with the settings, but hopefully you can get shutter speed times up to 2 seconds or more. Now the water flow is nice and creamy.

creamy water, but bad color

creamy water, but bad color

The downside to using this glass is the color cast, so you will almost certainly want to convert to black and white, but for five bucks you can definitely make due until the Fedex truck arrives.

final image after converting to black and white

final image after converting to black and white

4 Comments

  • Colin Utz says:

    If you buy the darkest version welders glass, you can use it for the next solar eclipse, too.

  • Mike Wilson says:

    Great idea this, Pete. So, can one use Hue/Saturation to fix the color cast? Also, I have seen some clouds in Hawai’i that move fast. And maybe they too would be blurry and “creamy,” not good I would think. Am I wrong? (I guess one could shoot two views of the scene and blend them?)

    (Makes me sad that I threw away the sheets of black developed Litho film* we had in the Graphic Arts Lab when the English majors at the District shut down Industrial Arts. *Kids can do some amazing things – wrong. Then grown men from the Maintenance Crew cried when they tore out the Welding Lab – those labs and others gave them the skills that got them their jobs.)

    • Mike, the creamy clouds look great as well, especially with architecture. You could try to fix with Hue/Saturation, but I have had mixed results. If you are going to do a good bit of this, then it is worth it to order the real neutral density filters.

  • happykeiko says:

    Oh. My. GOODNESS. YES! <3 Thank you!