Magic Cloth Photography<Magical Long Exposures


I prefer the lagoon in the Winter, but Summer nights also yield good conditions.

Tagged: , Iceland , ice , ice lagoon , Jökulsárlón , glacial laggon , magic cloth , magic cloth technique

“Pay no attention to that man behind the Magic Cloth!”!

Have you ever felt so completely at one with the landscape behind a camera on a shoot?

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
— Andy Warhol

The Magic Cloth Photography Technique

The Magic Cloth Photography Technique is a fantastic way to record a scene with high dynamic range.

If you like to avoid burning the highlights in the sky like a normal aurora display, the The Magic Cloth Photography Technique is a great accessory to carry and flexible for your needs.

Magic Cloth Tricks


Dark Filter: (not at night, only in daylight)

I prefer circular filters for wet atmospheres.

sturdy Tripod:

I love to get as low as possible for an interesting perspective so quickly adjusting legs are definitely great options to look out for on your tripod. Stabilize your tripod so it is strong. Magic Cloth movemnts can cause vibrations. But, this is necessary for high end long exposure photography.

Try to avoid heightening the center column unless it is absolutely essential. The center column is the least stable part of the set up.

Sometimes a tripod has a hook betweent the legs, hang something from it to help with better strength. Often professionals carry an empty “rock bag” that they can fill with stones to give a better strength which will the tripod still – perfect for long exposures.

Remote shutter:

Exposure times can sometimes be longer than the 30 seconds your camera will allow. Having a Remote shutter (sometimes called “Remote) will allow you to expose: as long as your battery allows.

Magic Sock:

Pick a big cloth like a large sock, or black card of similar size. Must be large enough to cover the glass. Better to be Dark. A dark colour is better. Use any shaped cloth, as long as you can get a straight edge.

Magic cloth procedure:


Begin with a dark filter or low light for a to acheive a long exposure, then over expose the photo by two to three stops.

Shutter speed

There is an advantage to a long Shutter speed. 2-5 seconds requires a fast, but smooth action to cover the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 seconds allows for a extra exposure of the middleground.

Magic Cloth Movement

Normally, I use very fast downward motion and slow, careful upward motions.


Change the Movement to capture several short exposures of the sky, instead of a single medium exposure (30 seconds and over exposures only).

Spot meter for the highlights and {multiply that shutter speed bythree or four|then x 4 to get the total shutter speed.

See more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Tours.

Many thanks for visiting and sharing!

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