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Budget B&W Neutral Density Filter

I’m sure by now you’ve observed the many black & white images out there with the dreamy blurred skies and/or the silky smooth water. You may have read about the use of a neutral density filter and thought about how great it would be to run out and grab you one. That is, until you ran out to grab you one. The sticker shock alone can lead to high blood pressure, sweaty palms and an abundance of other health conditions. Sure, they are well worth the money, but not everyone has $100 or more to shell out just for a filter.

You may also have read about the much cheaper alternative of welder’s glass. For a few dollars, you can pick one up and attach it to the front of your lens. However, this is where a mild problem comes in. Many are often reduced to using rubber bands stretched around their camera body or maybe even their reversed lens hood to accomplish this. It works, but for me was always a pain to get situated when on location. There had to be a better way.

Turns out, there was. I happen to enjoy anything creative and alternative to normal imagery. I love to make my own filters and often try new things. I am not going to attempt to discuss neutral density filters here. There are plenty of blogs out there that do a great job with this and I see no need to reinvent the wheel. If you are still not sure regarding welder’s glass selection or the process, just Google it.

What I wanted to talk about was a better way to secure the glass. I picked up a Spiratone gelatin filter holder on Ebay for $5. My welder’s glass cost me $2. I had it cut to size at a local glass shop for a whopping charge of $0. So there you have it. On one hand, a nice neutral density filter for around $100 and ranging up to $150. On the other hand, a DIY version for $7. Keep in mind, I am referencing using this for black & white photography, as the glass will cast a green hue over the image. This is easily fixed when converting to black & white.

As for the Spiratone solution, you just get your glass cut to the size of the filter holder and then slide it in. No more worrying with rubber bands or alternative methods to secure it. A very fast and simple process. Additionally, you can make your own filters for special effects as well. 

Hope this helps if you are cash strapped!

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