ice beach photography

Taken on January 11, 2017

Location: The Ice Beach at Breidarmurkursandur

Winter Sunsrie on a stormy Jökulsarlon lagoon and Ice Beach. The storm was overnight and we caught the tail end of ice. The wind & sand created incredible scalloped textures in the fresh glacier ice. The sand was also mixing with clouds on the horizon giving the event a lot more colour than usual.

Camera settings

  • ƒ/6.3
  • 24 mm
  • 5 seconds
  • 200

Mode: AV mode with + 2 stops over (compensation +/-).
Focus: f/14 hyperfocal mark. Focus is heavily weighted to the foreground.

Camera equipment

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • EF24mm f/1.4L II USM
  • Medium weight Gitzo
  • 6 stop B&W ND filter
  • Magic Cloth = Black Winter glove.

The Canon 5D mark iii Canon 5D
mark III
Canon 5D mark III Recommended for Magic Cloth Photography

The Canon EF-24mm f/1.4Canon
EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM A nice prime lens for landscape.


Magic Cloth

Long exposure = 5 seconds.

Because of the foreground ice’s refraction and reflection, this is not a massive dynamic range scene. My starting exposure (AV mode) was 2 stops over in the live view. A very simple karate chop (after a second) followed by slowly raising the cloth over the remaining 3 & half seconds. A second on the sky capture all the colour and detail including the sun glow. The shadows had to be brought up a little in LR. The extra exposure time on the foreground was almost perfect and just a small increase in contrast gave me fantastic color saturation and clarity.

Magic cloth:

Pick a big cloth like a large sock, or the same size black card. Should be large enough to totally cover the optics. Better to be Dark. A dark colour is best. Use any shaped cloth, as long as you can get a straight edge.

The Magic Cloth Technique:

Camera settings

Begin with a dark filter or low light for a for a slower shutter speed, then over expose the image by 2 – 3 stops.

Shutter speed

There is an advantage to a long Shutter speed. 2-5 seconds requires a fast, but smooth movement to burn the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 seconds allows for a controlled exposure of the foreground.

Magic Cloth Action

I usually lower the cloth very quickly and bring it up carefully.

Different ways of doing it

Change the Action to allow a dozen short exposures of the clouds, rather than one initial exposure (30 seconds & over exposures only).

Use your spot meter for the highlights and {multiply that shutter speed by 4|then x 4 to get the total exposure time.

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