Magic Cloth Photos


Sometimes a big wave hits the beach at just the right moment.

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

What an Experience!!

It certainly is an amazing Icelandic vista!! It was worth taking.

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” ― Eudora Welty

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a an interesting way to capture a high dynamic range scene.

If you like to avoid burning the highlights in the sky like a average sunset scene, the The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a useful tool to carry.

Magic Cloth Tricks


Neutral Density Filter: (only if you are shooting during the day)

I suggest circular filters for wet weather.

strong Tripod:

I like to get low down for foreground intimacy so folding legs are certainly nice options to look out for choosing your tripod. Stabilize your tripod so it becomes sturdy. Moving the Magic Cloth can introduce vibrations. A solid tripod is good practice for top quality long exposure photography.

Try not to raise the center column unless you really need to. The center column is the least stable part of the system.

Sometimes your tripod has a hook underneath, hang something from it to provide extra stability. Many travel photographers carry an empty “rock bag” that they can fill with stones to give a good weight which will hold the tripod still – even in strong winds.

Shutter bulb:

Shutter speeds can be longer than the 30 sec your camera will allow. Having a Shutter bulb (sometimes called “Remote) will allow you to open the shutter: as long as your battery allows.

Magic cloth:

Pick a big cloth like a mouse-mat, or black card of similar size. It must be large enough to cover the lens. Better to be Black. A dark colour is better. The cloth can be any shape, but you need to be able to create a straight edge.

Magic cloth procedure:


Use a dark filter or darkness for a to acheive a long exposure, then over expose the scene by two to three stops.

Shutter speed

There are benefits to using a long Shutter speed. 2-5 sec requires a fast, but smooth action to cover the sky within a split second. 5-10 sec lets you have a extra exposure of the foreground.

Magic Cloth Movement

Normally, I use very fast downward motion and slow, gentle upward movements.


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

Use your spot meter for the sky and {multiply that shutter speed by four|then times four to get the total exposure time.

Check out some Auroras on our Photo Tours.

Many thanks for visiting!

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
— Marc Riboud

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