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Beating the Flow

Beating the Flow

Learning a new camera trick is both refreshing and exciting for me. I say refreshing not because “I know it all” but I have seen so many “tricks/tips” that I rarely raise my eyebrows because of something new. There is so much of the same regurgitated rhetoric out there that if you spend any time at all browsing the web you are bound to see the same ol’ hook over and over again. So what could possibly have piqued my interest enough that I spend time even writing about it you might ask? NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS! I am sure you are saying REALLY? ND FILTERS? But wait, its an ND filter you can use when you leave yours at home on a trip to Yosemite. Let me give a little bit of background though.

First, an ND filter works by cutting the amount of light that enters your lens so that you can use a slower shutter speed. Why would you want a slower shutter speed? My number one thought is to emphasize movement (note I am not talking about a graduated ND that lets you blend a bright sky and a darker foreground for instance) but for use in water or clouds. You can create smooth streaking lines in both by popping an ND filter in front of you lens. I read a post a while back on the exact post is here where Udi Tirosh mentioned that he had used a welding glass as an ND filter. Cost is a big factor because you can pick up welding glass in a rectangle sheet of glass usually 4×5 inches or somewhere in there for around FIVE BUCKS. FIVE… DOLLARS! I have seen ND filters reach as high as $300 bucks so this definitely got my attention so I read on. He managed to pull off some great shots with this as well. The only problem is that welder glass is usually green and it will put an ugly green cast in the image. He offered practical advice, 1. convert to B/W or 2. a recipe to turn that green cast neutral and get the effect of a slow shutter with true coloring. Pretty cool I must admit but I really didn’t think I would need it as soon as I did.

Until 2 days later on my trip to Yosemite.What do you know, I LEFT MY ND AT HOME. I was so upset, but then remembered the article. I might possibly be able to find a welder glass on the way up there. I was coming up to Oakdale, CA and I tried the hobby store first. My wife and I went in and firstly asked for a true ND filter, they just stared at me blankly. I said OK, what about welding supplies. They said no, but offered directions to a welding supply store up the road. On the way out they yelled back, but they are closed today. I wanted to kick myself again for not remembering my ND. The gentleman said, maybe you can try Ace Hardware. They have some welding stuff. Skeptically I asked for directions. I got to Ace and sure enough, there it was, welding glass. I grabbed the #10 and made my purchase. A whopping 7 bucks. I was set. Off we went to our cabin in Yosemite. I rigged the glass to my lens hood with electrical tape. I must have looked like a hot mess, noob, amateur using a full frame camera and 2 top dollar Canon lenses (24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 IS ii) and a piece of welding glass TAPED to the front. Man, was I a sight to behold. So? How did they turn out? Pretty damn good if you ask me. I have only edited a few and I decided to go with B/W for now. I will try the trickier color correction later. So now, see for yourself.


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ISO 2500 f/5.6 30sec




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