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  • Welding photography setup

    http://metalworkingathome.com/?p=392

    I’m learning to weld and to do metal cutting with plasma cutters. I’d like to keep track of my welding progress with videos and still images but obviously the camera needs something to limit the arc brightness. I have an older auto-darkening helmet that has a broken strap but the lens works fine, so I’m going to use that. The lens is infinitely adjustable between 9 and 13.

    Next, I needed a way to temporarily attach the welding lens to the camera. I made a number of hand drawings and what-if scenarios to build a lens holder for the camera, thinking parallel rails on a base mount between the camera and tripod best. The requirements are the welding lens needs to be very close to the camera lens to prevent cropping, I’d like to be able to reach the built-in dimming control on the welding lens, and I’d like to be able to manually adjust the camera lens focus. It would be very useful if the lens could tilt to provide the least cropping of the in-progress welds. As an aside, I’d also like the welding lens to act as a first line of defense to prevent sparks from hitting the camera as it costs more than all my welders!

    Here’s an image of the welding lens – it came attached to the cheapest helmet Harbor Freight sells and it works well and is fast. The size is also fairly typical of welding lenses. The color tint is green and is not a problem for welding imagery.

    http://metalworkingathome.com/wp-con...s-1024x764.jpg

    The mount needed more thought, and last week I stumbled onto a product from France (http://www.amazon.com/Cokin-CBP400A-...+filter+holder) that looked like it might solve the problem. I found my local Omega camera shop had one in stock but not a great selection of rings. I did find a match for one of my Canon kit lenses but it is not the best lens for the purpose. I bought it anyway, and brought home the holder and ring.

    I used some double-sided foam tape to attach the welding lens to the filter holder making certain to center the lens on the lens ring center line. On attaching the filter kit with attached welding lens to my camera I’m ready to shoot some pictures of welds. I have to do my welding outdoors and it’s raining like stink so that will have to wait a bit longer.

    Here is the camera with just the ring and then with the ring and welding lens attached.

    http://metalworkingathome.com/wp-con...g-1024x682.jpg

    http://metalworkingathome.com/wp-con...s-1024x682.jpg

    After some additional research I discovered on Amazon a cheap knock-off of the Cokin filter frame system (http://www.amazon.com/Fotasy-FCAS-10...are+Filter+Kit) and which includes all the lens ring adapters I have need for, and for a price less than the cost of any single Cokin component. That should be arriving in the mail tomorrow. I’m going to be modifying it in the following way. The filter holder has slots to accept filter plates and I will machine that off as it is not needed. That will allow the welding lens to fit nearly flush with the holder thus placing it as close as possible to the camera lens and will close up the gap between the welding lens and camera lens. The double-sided tape is working out fine. I have some roofing sheet vinyl material and will use that to protect the camera from flying sparks. I also have a welding blanket if that doesn’t work out well.

    More to come…
    Last edited by dp; 11-30-2013, 02:09 AM.

  • #2
    Sounds like an interesting project Dennis, I'm looking forward to the results of your videos of the welding process and the techniques you used to acquire them.
    This is something I've always contemplated on doing as well but I never actually made a serious attempt.

    I did however speak to someone that did this commercially and the biggest single piece of advice he could give me was to use as much bright fill in lighting as I could find in order to cut lighting contrast. He told me without the fill lighting the contrast ratio would be too extreme. Perhaps try this if it looks like it may help.

    Take care of that camera...you've got big ones to be using that.
    But yes I know, without good equipment how can you achieve good results.

    Good luck, looking forward to some successful results.
    Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

    Location: British Columbia

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    • #3
      I think in the next revision I'll add flipping the welding lens out of the way to allow focusing and framing the camera in the clear. That can be easily arranged with a sticky back magnetic strip. The welding lens triggers on a flickering light so it's hard to test without an actual arc. Interestingly my 8' florescent tubes flicker enough to trigger it but my 4' tubes don't.

      Update - had time to shoot a quick video between rain squalls. At the bottom of the page at http://metalworkingathome.com/?p=392. Pretty much what I expected from the lens (weld puddle scene is too small). The new rings for the adapter arrived today so I'll try again tomorrow.
      Last edited by dp; 11-16-2013, 09:35 PM.

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      • #4
        Here's a first try with a 250mm lens and post processing in iMovie. I'm pretty happy with it so far. I need to not try to record through the smoke plume

        http://youtu.be/qYlIcUJqB-M

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        • #5
          Nice video! Much better welder setting on the last two beads. Get that gun closer to the work though.
          Andy

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          • #6
            Those were intentionally hot welds to see how high the sparks were flying - you can see bb's everywhere. I was moving stick out all over the place - didn't even bother keeping track of what each weld setup was. There were about 15 welds in the vid and all but the three shown were expunged. Those shown were from after I added some flood lamps to the setup. This wasn't intended as a weld test, but a setup test for the camera and for editing in iMovie. I'm going to cut up some coupons today from some 3/16" metal I bought at Home Depot yesterday and do some real butt welds, t-joints, and lap joints later today and will have the settings appropriate for the tests. The camera is out of the kill zone of flying blobs, so that's the good news. I'll light up the TIG too if weather cooperates. It's another wet day today. I guess I should also record the plasma cutter whacking out the coupons.

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            • #7
              Starting to look good Dennis, you've covered a lot of ground already in your setup and technique.
              I'm glad to see that the advice I received from my chance encounter with a videographer filming at a facility we both happened to be at has shown some merit.
              On the extreme close-up shots the focus appears to be a little on the soft side. Is this an artifact of enlarging the scene in your video editor or perhaps a depth of field issue? It could, come to think of it, be a side effect of shooting through the variable shade lens.

              Keep at it Dennis your results are very promising, like I said you've covered a lot of ground in only a few days. The info you have obtained will also be very welcome at some of the photography forums if you happen to frequent them.

              Thanks again for sharing what you've learned so far.
              Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
              Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

              Location: British Columbia

              Comment


              • #8
                In some of the enlargements I'm seeing some pixelating, but youtube also mucked it some. The original doesn't look as bad as the on-disk version. The smoke plum is also headed right at the camera so I'll play with some angles and pull the puddle to control the smoke. I also kicked the tripod and changed the focus point a bit just before that segment.

                I have another welding lens I'm going to try, too - it's a bit more neutral in color, and also another camera I'd like to try out. It doesn't shoot 1900px vids, but since I'm zooming digitally that probably won't matter. Worth a try. There might be a Hero 3 camera under the tree this year, too

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                • #9
                  Keith Fenner's just done the same thing for his Canon Sure Shot camera - it's working pretty well.

                  http://www.youtube.com/embed/E1kG7fMDaCM

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                  • #10
                    I realize you and Kieth are both still on the ground floor with this and admittedly you both still have some fine tuning and tweaking to do, but hey, Keith doesn't have anything on what you've demonstrated.
                    Yeah I know it's not everyday you get a compliment like that but your results are at least as good if not a bit better.

                    Nice link to a video of Keith Fenner that I have not seen before. The customer that had Keith re-do the oil fill plug hole on the HD big twin kicker cover must be in love with that puppy by now. I'm sure he could have bought two new ones for what it cost to re-weld, machine and thread his old one. I have two original extra ones like that, I'll have to be more aware of what some might pay for an original.

                    Oh well good video on the proper technique for this type of repair, as the procedure is after all not brand specific. Also good to see you and Keith on the same page.
                    Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                    Location: British Columbia

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The education continues - I've remixed the video, added an audio track (using what was on hand), added pan and zoom to follow the puddle and to create a more dynamic experience. Pretty much the same footage but with a few new twists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5FoAfkT54g

                      I've gotten a new unscratched welding lens and the clarity on new clips I took today are greatly improved - close to what Jody at Welding Tips and Tricks is getting. As a concept it is all falling together well - I'm even able to use two cameras now for the arc shots and a third for capturing the overall scene and setup. Split screen stuff will be provided in the next vid set and will be using the TIG welder.

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                      • #12
                        Dennis,

                        Let me add my thanks for the work you are doing posting this thread. Once my lathe project is complete. I want to get the welding shop set back up. Following your thread will allow me to add video recording to document and critique my own work.
                        Kevin

                        More tools than sense.

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                        • #13
                          Here's a second remix and this time I've implemented the iMovie white balance, all other things being the same. I must say I'm very impressed - from these incremental changes a workflow is emerging that can and I expect will produce high quality video images. I've not published them yet, but the image quality I am getting from the new, unscratched and abused welding lens is orders of magnitude improved. Flaring is minimized, haze is gone, and arc/puddle resolution is pretty damn nice.

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q9XXDVHxH0

                          I've also purchased glass filters for level 9 and level 10 and will experiment with non-autodarkening lens recording soon.

                          I'm putting hints in the Youtube descriptions regarding the capabiity of iMovie for improving these clips and if anyone is interested in a deeper dive into post processing with iMovie or Adobe CS6 video processing lemme know.

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                          • #14
                            Very impressive, I can hardly wait to see the results of some of the new hardware changes in conjunction with the new video software enhancement techniques.
                            Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                            Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                            Location: British Columbia

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Willy View Post
                              Very impressive, I can hardly wait to see the results of some of the new hardware changes in conjunction with the new video software enhancement techniques.
                              Why not ask the guys who are already doing it? Jody @ Weldingtipsandtricks.com or any of the other welding youtube guys could probably help.

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