Magic Cloth Images


Loving my new Gitzo… heavy to lug around, but wonderful to be able to get to any height.

Some scenes are just worth persevering with, this is maybe take 10, The mix of sea and sand is just right.

“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” ― Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a a unique way to expose a high dynamic range scene.

When you like to avoid burning the highlights in the sky like a normal aurora display, the The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a great accessory to carry – so convenient and inexpensive.

Hints for Magic Cloth photography

What you need:

Be sure to choose the right equipment for Neutral Density photography. A lens with a large= element 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 so wide, they create their own problems, such as the famous Nikkor 14-24mm. The lens is great for long exposures at night, but dark filters for day time Neutral Density photography becomes complicated.
Canon pro-DSLRs are perfect for Neutral Density photography.

  • Great features and total manual mode
  • Amazing live view can see auroras before humans!
  • Essential features can be edited with external buttons .
  • A little Red light on the back lets you know you are taking a shot. (nice feature in the dark)
Essential Gear

ND Filter: (only if you are shooting during the day)

I prefer round filters for damp conditions.

sturdy Tripod:

I love to get low down for an interesting perspective so quickly adjusting legs are definitely great options to have on your tripod. Stabilize your tripod so it becomes heavy. Vibrations can be caused by the movement of the Magic Cloth. But, this is good practice for fine art long exposure photography.

Avoid extending the center column unless it is essential. The center column is the weak spot of the tripod.

If your tripod has a hook underneath, suspend things from it to help with better strength. Often Travel photographers carry an empty “rock bag” to put stones in to give a better stability which will hold the tripod steady – even in strong winds.

Some more Long Exposure hints…


Remote release:

Exposures can be longer than the 30 seconds the camera will let you do. Having a Remote release (sometimes called “infra red Shutter release) will allow you to expose: as long as your battery pack allows.

Black cloth:

Choose a large cloth like a hat, or the same size black card. Should be able to completely cover the whole surface of the glass. Better to be Dark. A non-reflective colour is better. You can normally make a straight edge out of any cloth.

What to do:

Camera settings

Start with a filter or darkness for a longer exposure time, then over expose the image by 2 – 3 stops.

Shutter speed

There are benefits to using a long Shutter speed. 2-5 seconds requires a quick, but controlled action to burn the sky within a split second. 5-10 seconds lets you have a controlled exposure of the middleground.

Magic Cloth Action

In most situations I bring the cloth down with a fast action and up slowly.


Change the Action to allow several short exposures of the clouds, instead of a single medium exposure (30 seconds & over exposures only).

Spot meter for the highlights and {multiply that shutter speed by three or four|then times four to get the total exposure time.

See more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Tours.

Thanks for reading!

Check out more photography Pages:
<a href="https://www.icelandaurora.com/phototutorials/2014/07/tonys-magic-cloth-technique/

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
— Alfred Stieglitz

What a super moment it was to have the chance to snap such amazing Nature in a super setting.

Check out some exciting articles

Photo Blogger – Suburban Aurora Link

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This