This tutorial is a demonstration of the Magic Cloth Technique to add drama to a dull sky. In this landscape photograph, the sky has been drastically underexposed, while the foreground and water have been well exposed.

No cloth
The above image was 15 seconds at f/11, the exposure was 2 stops over exposure. I sometimes shoot this as a test shot to see which areas require the most cloth. This result told me that the whole image would need some cloth.

Magic cloth
The above image was exactly the same settings, but with the magic cloth over the sky area for most of the exposure. I covered the sky in a fraction of a second to create a dramatic contrast between sky and mountains.

Text:

    “I call this the Scottish Waterfall shot.

    Look at this lovely waterfall, the lovely details, the lovely action.

    Then we’ve got these mountains in the distance over there.

    They are a bit washed out because of the conditions, there is a lot of low cloud.

    But lets see what we can do with a little bit of dodgig and burning – with the Magic Cloth Technique.

    So here’s my camera, lets have a look at the live view screen.

    There’s my live view. Composition with that ‘v’ going down quite strongly in the background there. What I’ll do is to work in these rocks. Here is my foreground with a lovely water movement, lovely curving action going on there.

    Let’s have a look at my focus, so there we are, I’m on f/11 (Hyperfocal). And I’m shooting at f/11 – 2 stops over – of course it’s 2 stops over.

    So let have a look at the shot (exposure) wich is 15 seconds. I will try the shot without any magic cloth , here we go, 3 2 1 and there were exposing 15 seconds without any Magic Cloth at all.

    While were waiting for that, I’ll explain I’ve got a dark filter on, this is a b&w its a 106, which means it’s a 6 stop dark filter – a neutral density filter.

    And let’s have a look at the result we get. There you are lovely water movement, beautiful foreground, but of course we’ve lost that whole mountain scene in the background. so what I’m going to do is a bit of Magic Clothing and I gonna have to go down fast. There’s my line, there’s my horizon line, let’s have a look at that on the lens. So I’m gonna go down quite fast and then very very slowly from top to bottom.

    like that!

    Ok, lets give it a go.

    2, 1 go… very fast on the sky there and now I’m just gonna move it very slowly down over the scene, right the way down to the bottom and then very very slowly up again… trying to get it up to that sky area.

    There you go then, that’s my shot… let’s just give you a view of that… what do you think!”


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