Pink Panther Returns – Diamond Beach Iceland

Categorized as Long Exposure Techniques
Glacier Ice Beach Iceland

Camera settings

  • ƒ/11
  • Focal length: 24 mm
  • Exposure time: 20 seconds
  • ISO:100

Mode: AV mode with + 2 stops over (compensation +/-).
Focus: f/9 hyperfocal mark. Focus is almost hyerfocal with slight biased to foreground.

Taken on November 5, 2011

Location: The Ice Beach at Breidarmurkursandur

Winter photo tour to Jökulsarlon lagoon and Ice Beach. After enjoying the glacier lagoon for the afternoon, we managed to catch some sunset colours on the ice beach. Fortunately for us, there were some amazing ice pops.


Tours Around Iceland

Background Story

This photo was taken early November on 2 day Jökulsarlon tour. I was taking some shots without an ND filter and some shots with. This is one of the shots with the Neutral Density filter – which creates a slight rose tint. This was one of the last photos of the session and everything fells into place when the sky reached it’s best.


Because I was not so close to the foreground ice (about 8 ft) f/11 was chosen because sharpness can easily be achieved throughout the scene from the Ice to the sea. Beyond the edge of the sea, sharpness is pointless because the clouds and waves move during the exposure.



The composition challenge was putting my camera into the right position to ensure good proportions of sea, ice & sky. The sky is constantly changing and you need to be able to predict the movement and keep shooting, because you cannot press rewind. For the ice and beach I placed the ice slightly left because I felt it was pointing to the right – this way the ice is pointing into the scene. Next I made sure there was a comfortable space around the ice, so that I wasn’t crossing any horizons or overlapping other ice by having the camera quite high.

Focal length

I might have been able to get closer to this ice with a 50mm. This would have captured more detail on the ice and a more intimate feel. My 24mm, however, captured more of the sky and plenty of rich detail in the ice.

Magic Cloth

Don’t forget to share!!

Long exposure = 20 seconds.

This sort of exposure time allows a couple of seconds exposure on the sky. So after 2 or so seconds, I dropped the cloth and was quite heavy with it – covering most of the scene for most of the duration and only executing slow careful upward movements to expose the ice and beach.

Because there are light colours throughout this scene, the photo could have easily been taken with any filters or cloth. The cloth burned the foreground a little and dodged the sky. This is favourable in post-processing because you are retaining all the highlights in the sky which can handle a bit of shadow boosting if needed (because it is not an area of detail. The well exposed foreground can handle extra contrast which works well in a detailed foreground.

Thanks for Reading!!

The Magic Cloth Technique:

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.

Camera settings

Start with an ND filter or wait until it gets dark for a for a longer shutter speed, then over expose the image by 2 – 3 stops.

Shutter speed

Magic Cloth is easier with a longer Shutter speed. 2-5 seconds requires a fast, but smooth movement to burn the sky within a reflex time (Karate Chop). 5-10 seconds allows for a controlled exposure of the foreground.

Magic Cloth Action

Make sure your cloth or card has a straight leading edge.

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

My Camera Gear

Canon 5D - full frame

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 l

Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod

B+W 77mm SC 106 ND


Blue glacier ice on Diamond Beach
The same piece of glacier ice without the ND filter.

By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.