First photos using two polarizing filters as a neutral density filter

Aka “Homemade” Neutral Density Filter

Pont Saint-Michel

View of Pont Saint-Michel, Paris.

In the beginning of the month I wrote about Neutral Density Filters and how expensive it was to get them shipped to France so I decided to follow this article that talked about creating your own with two polarizing filters. I ordered the filters and they arrived safely to my door last week. Yay! for post office efficiency!

Île de la Cité

Woman walking in Île de la Cité, Paris.

Last weekend I tried them on and this is what I learned:

- You will need a “Circular Polarizing Filter” and a “Linear Polarizing Filter”. I got mine at eBay for about €29 from 2 different vendors. The “CPF” was €20 and if from a German brand named Hoya and the “LPF” was €9 and is made by Rowi;

- You have to screw them to your lens in the correct order -> First the “CPF” and then the “LPF”, or else it doesn’t work;

- Mount your camera in a tripod – You will need this because you’re about to do very long exposures;

- Focus your camera, switch it to manual focus after, if you use Auto Focus;

- Turn the filters until you get your viewfinder black, like you would get if you had your lens cap on;

- Switch the camera to manual and start experimenting. -> For these first photos you can see here I used 30 seconds exposures with a small aperture. I could have opted to do shorter exposures with a wider aperture but that would defeat the purpose, which was to have the buildings in focus while the movement of the people (and the water, in the Saint-Michel bridge) was captured and did a sort of “swoosh effect” (this is a technical term, “swoosh”…);

- As expected, the color aberrations where severe. I had to apply a black and white blue filter in post processing. Surprisingly though, not much more needed postprocessing. I’m very happy with the first results!

#193 - Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris filled with people walking by.

Alas, it started to rain so I had to pack up my gear. Next time I’ll try to do it on a dryer day.

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