Taken on February 5, 2013
Location: The ice beach at Jökulsarlon. The black sand beach with magical chunks of glacial ice.
This is where the Atlantic Ocean interacts with Europe’s largest glacier.
- 24 mm
- 13 seconds
Mode: AV mode with + 2 stops over (compensation +/-).
Focus: f/11 hyperfocal mark. This is weighted to the foreground.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- EF24mm f/1.4L II USM
- Medium weight Gitzo
- 6 stop B&W ND filter
- Magic Cloth = Black sleeve of my fleece.
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This is early February on a Winter photo tour. The beach was littered with this attractive blue ice. The glacier chunks had beautiful scalloped textures.
Focal length On the ice beach I often chose my focal length according to the action in the sky. With such strong colours all over the sky, 24mm was a no-brainer.
Aperture Because of how close I was to the foreground ice (see “Composition”) f/9 was chosen because sharpness is only important on the foreground ice. From memory, my lens was set to f/11 hyperfocal (favouring the foreground – because the background is only about colour and shape).
I like to show the interaction of the Atlantic Ocean against these chunks of glacier ice. Walking around among these huge chunks I searched for an opening. I wanted a spot where the sea would come onto the beach for that long exposure motion effect. I also wanted to show the textures on the beach.
This spot was ideal because it had an area which was being regularly flooded by waves. The front piece of ice had fantastic textures. It was sheltering a patch of delicious black sand and pebbles.
I positioned my camera quite low on the tripod. The ice chunks are breaking the horizon, but this is to maximise the area of sky in the scene. It also gives a strong sense of intimacy with the glacier ice.
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Long exposure = 13 seconds.
Timing was important in this shot. My settings gave me a comfortable second to expose the sky. I had to be sure that there was sea action during the remainder of the exposure to get a nice run-off effect.
The action was a fast downward drop of the cloth (after a second) followed by carefully raising the cloth over the remaining 10 or so seconds up to the horizon point. A full a second on the sky was almost losing the highlights. The extra exposure time on the foreground was good and required very little processing in terms of brightness. I therefore had plenty of options with saturation and clarity without degrading the image.
Magic cloth procedure:
Start with a dark filter or darkness for a longer exposure time, then over expose the scene by two to three stops.
There are benefits to using a long Shutter speed. 2-5 sec requires a fast, but smooth action to burn the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 sec gives you a extra exposure of the middleground.
Magic Cloth Action
In most cases I bring the cloth down quickly and up slowly.
Vary the Action to allow many short exposures of the sky, instead of a single medium exposure (30 sec and over exposures only).
Spot meter for the highlights and then x 4 to get the total shutter speed.
See more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Tours.
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