Blue Wing – Jökulsárlón Diamond Ice Beach

Blue Wing – Jökulsárlón  Diamond Ice Beach

Taken on Dec 5, 2010

Location: Jökulsarlon Ice beach.

This was on the West side of the lagoon mouth. The beach consists of black sand and black pebbles. Both of these give a dark canvas for the glacier ice. The different textures behave different in the morning light and the behaviour of the receding waves is different.

Early December sunrises last a long time. The colours here were good for around an hour of shooting.

  • 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.

Canon 5D – full frame

Recommended for Magic Cloth Photography.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM


This is early December on a day tour to Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. We had driven from Reykjavik to Jökulsarlon very early. We parked the car and could see that a good sunrise was developing, but there was very little ice on the beach. I spotted this larger chunk, maybe half a mile up the beach and just started running towards it. My customers started running also.

As there was only one piece of ice, we all got similar shots. One of my customers got on the front page of Bing and also sold a few as framed prints.


This was really a simple case of balancing the elements. The version you see here has been cropped to 16:9 aspect ratio. I cut out a part of the black/grey sand to allow the colour elements to fill the frame. But when I was composing, I didn’t know how the waves would behave, so I covered that area in my frame anyway.

In a basic sense, I am just as close to the ice chunk as I feel comfortable. There aren’t many elements in the scene. I simply placed the Ice on the far right with enough space at the edges. Then balanced the ice with the sun. They are fairly close to the third intersections following the rule of thirds.

Magic Cloth It!!

Under normal conditions, the top section of a coastal scene is much brighter than the lower half. To be able to get the very best exposure of both the skies and the land, filters that are darker at the top & clear at the bottom have been traditionally employed by photographers. These are called Graduated Filters. They are available in different colours, but the most well-known are Neutral-Density. Neutral density adds no colour to the scene. Graduate filters come in different strengths quantified in stops. They are also available soft or hard gradients.

The Magic Cloth Technique achieves similar results by using a cloth to cover parts of the scene during a long exposure. During a long exposure of around 10 seconds or more, the sky is covered quickly allowing extra exposure on the lower half of the image.


Exposure time
It is preferable to work with a long Exposure time. Start with a dark filter or low light for a to achieve a long exposure, then over expose the photo by 2 – 3 stops. 2-5 seconds requires a quick, but controlled action to cover the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 seconds allows for a controlled exposure of the foreground.

ND (Neutral-Density) Filters

An N D filter is dark all over it affects the whole scene unlike a Graduated filter. The N D filter is only to lengthen the exposure. Without needing to wait for it to get dark. You can get nice wave activity or milky waterfalls. My advice will be to purchase a filter for your biggest lens so you can utilize the same filter on all of your lenses by simply using a step up ring.


Divide absolute exposure by 10 for the sky exposure. For example, a-10 second exposure would be a sky that is 1 second. Let 1 sec for the sky when the shutter opens. Immediately lower the cloth to cover the entire lens, then carefully lift the cloth to the level of the horizon. Don’t let the cloth become still during the exposure. This should give you a truly nice exposure on the immediate foreground without burning out the sky.

Magic cloth photography


Be sure to choose the right equipment for Magic Cloth photography. A lens with a large= element is essential, I get poor results with lenses lower than 62mm filter thread. The larger the lens element, the truer the cloth shadow. Lenses can be so wide, such as the Nikkor 14-24mm. The lens is fantastic for long exposures at night, but dark filters for day time Long Exposure photography becomes complicated.
This photo can be purchased in the shop…

9 Easy Innovative Photography Tutorials and Tips

9 Easy Innovative Photography Tutorials and Tips

Innovative Photography TutorialsThe scope of modern photography is a rather vast one. If you put some effort into polishing your skills to perfection, it's quite possible to get a hold of it like a real professional. The truth is, being a photographer is...

Northern lights HDR photography

Northern lights HDR photography

Northern lights are a real treat for the travel photographer, but what’s the point if you can’t see the landscape your are visiting? This post looks at the HDR technique and how it can be used at night for Northern lights.

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan Merage

    What a stunning pic of ice beach! After checking some amazing photographs here, I am totally in love with your photography. Awesome shots, thanks for sharing beautiful nature photographs with informative content.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 + 10 =

Support IcelandAurora

Photo Activities

Small Group Ice Cave


Looking for something else?





3d 5d3 advice ansel adams art art shop artefacts automatic mode basic black & white brightness burst mode camera bag Camera gadgets camera gift Canon cleaning color colour coloured dots communication competition creativity critique Crop Factor digital noise digital photography digital technology discipline display display screen DSLR DSLRs electrical noise exhibiting exhibition filter wrench fine art fingerless gloves Frames per second full frame full frame sensor galleries gallery gopro hack ISO iso noise lens lens cap lens cloth lenses Live view macro Megapixels middle ground Nikon nodal point noise non-parallax point Olympus online portfolio Panasonic Pano Panorama parralax perception photo filter prime lens seeing semi-automatic sensor Sensor cleaning sensor noise shutter actuations Sigma signal to noise ratio Sony taking photos Tamron technology third party lens time-lapse timing tripod video visual skills zeiss

Photo subjects


Digital Downloads

Digital Downloads

50% Discount Limited Time!!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This