Magical Iceland Landscapes


First light on a rainy Jökulsarlon.

Tagged: , Iceland , ice , ice lagoon , magic cloth , magic cloth technique , jokulsarlon , Jökulsárlón

Amazing adventure!

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment. ” ― Ansel Adams

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick

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

When you have to avoid burning the highlights in the sky like a average northern light show, the The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a great tool for your camera kit.

Magic Cloth Tricks


Be sure to choose the right equipment for Night photography. A lens with a large= surface area is essential, I get poor results with anything smaller than 62mm filter size. The larger the lens element, the truer the cloth shadow. Lenses can be too large, such as the famous Nikkor 14-24mm. The lens is perfect for long exposures at night, but dark filters for day time photography becomes complicated.
Canon pro-DSLRs are perfect for Night photography.

  • Great features and manual mode
  • Excellent live view can fine focus stars!
  • Most settings can be accessed with external buttons and dials.
  • A little Red light on the back lets you know you are taking a picture. [Good to have)
Recommended Low light camera equipment

Dark Filter: (not if you are shooting at night!)

I suggest round filters for rainy weather.

sturdy Tripod:

I like to get down to the ground for better details in the foreground so quickly adjusting legs are definitely good characters on your tripod. Set up your tripod to make it sturdy. Vibrations can be caused by the movement of the Magic Cloth. A solid tripod is essential for top quality long exposure photography.

Avoid heightening the center column unless it is absolutely essential. The center column is the weakest link of the set up.

Sometimes your tripod has a hook underneath, hang something from it to help with extra stability. Often Travel photographers carry an empty “rock bag” to put stones in to give a better strength which will stabilize the tripod still – perfect for long exposures.

More Long Exposure advice…


Shutter bulb:

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

Black cloth:

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

What to do:


Start with a dark filter or low light for a to acheive a long exposure, then over expose the photograph by 2 – 3 stops.

Shutter speed

It is preferable to work with a long Shutter speed. 2-5 sec requires a quick, but controlled movement to burn the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 sec lets you have a controlled exposure of the middleground.

Magic Cloth Movement

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

Different Methods

Change the Movement to capture many short exposures of the sky, instead of a single medium exposure (30 seconds or more exposures only).

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

Witness more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Workshops.

Thanks for reading!

Check out more photography Pages:

“Once you learn to care, you can record images with your mind or on film. There is no difference between the two.”
— Anonymous

What a great moment it was to have the chance to snap such amazing Nature in a great place.

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