Shoot Long Exposure Photos In Daylight Using Welder’s Glass


Shooting long exposure photos in daylight can create beautiful images that capture movement in a scene, but the filters required can be prohibitively expensive for casual photographers. As this video shows, though, all you really need is a cheap piece of welder’s glass.

Usually when you want to shoot a long exposure photo in daylight, you’d need to use an ND (neutral density) filter to dramatically cut down the amount of light that enters the lens. That enables you to expose your film or camera sensor for longer periods of time (say 30 seconds) to create that glossy motion blur effect. Professional ND filters can be expensive, but as photographer Mathieu Stern points out, all you really need is a piece of welder’s glass that you can buy at the hardware store for a few dollars. As the name suggests, these pieces of glass are normally used in welding helmets.

Mounting the panel of glass might be a little tricky, though. Mathieu just uses rubber bands to secure it in front of the lens, but even if it falls and breaks, it’s just a few bucks.

How to do Long Exposure Photography for 1$ via PetaPixel


  • I think the key difference between a pro-ND filter and a piece of welders glass is that the pro filters are uniform and provide a known number of stops. e.g. if I’m using a 10-Stop ND filter I know that I need to adjust my exposure (set before mounting the filter) by 10 stops. Starting at 1/30th of a second? Adjust to 30/1 seconds. You’d need to work out the number of stops provided by welders glass through trial and error, and wouldn’t be certain that it was uniform across the entire piece.

    So, good in a pinch? Sure… I’ll stick to my “Big-Stopper” though.

    • I did some analysis of welders glass a few years back for a client, and it was incredibly uniform across the entire piece of glass (I’ll have to go back to notes to find the brand).

      Working out the stops is really easy, just will cost you a little time, but you only have ot do it once.
      As a Guide:
      Shade 6 = 7 Stops
      Shade 8 = 10 Stops
      Shade 10 = 12.8 Stops
      Shade 15 = 19.9 Stops

      • Nice! Always happy to stand corrected. 🙂

        And yeah, after the initial working out how many stops there are you wouldn’t have to do it again. I might have to see if I can find a Shade 15 piece at my local. I’d love to experiment with something near 20 stops!

  • You can also have the same effect, without buying anything, by taking, say, one hundred photos from a static location. You then average the pictures (layers) in Photoshop or StarStaX or such. This way is a better way. Why? Because you can have the blurred / flat water, clouds, waves over rocks etc, but you can utilise a single image to get crisp, still leaves or rocks etc, and then selectively allow the blurred / flat waves / water / clouds through. As seen in the pics above, not much is crisp, tree, clouds, objects etc move.

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