Magic Cloth Photography – Magical Long Exposures


Friendly ice dolphins stop for an early morning coffee break.

Tagged: , Iceland , ice , ice lagoon , Icelandaurora , Jökulsárlón , jokulsarlon , glacial laggon , glacier , beach , magic cloth , magic cloth technique , Breiðamerkursandur , Breidamerkursandur

Incredible photo tour!

It definitely is an amazing Icelandic scene!! It was worth photographing.

“Always seeing something, never seeing nothing, being photographer” ― Walter De Mulder

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick

The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a fantastic method to record a scene with high dynamic range.

When you like to avoid burning the highlights in the sky like a regular sunrise beach, the The Magic Cloth Photography Trick is a good gadget to carry and flexible for your needs.

Magic Cloth Tricks


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

I prefer round filters for rainy atmospheres.

Heavy Tripod:

I have to get low down for better details in the foreground so quickly adjusting legs are definitely nice features to have on your tripod. Stabilize your tripod so it is strong. Moving the Magic Cloth can introduce vibrations. But, this is good practice for top quality long exposure photography.

Try to avoid raising the center column unless you really need to. The center column is the weakest link of the set up.

If your tripod has a hook underneath, hang something from it to help with better strength. Often professionals carry a special bag to place rocks and stones to give a heavy weight which will hold the tripod nicely – perfect for long exposures.

Remote release:

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

Black cloth:

Choose a large cloth like a mouse-mat, or the same size black card. Must be large enough to totally cover the optics. Better to be Black. A dark colour is preferable. Use a straight edge of any shaped cloth.

The Magic Cloth Technique:

Camera settings

Start with a filter or low light for a for a slower shutter speed, then over expose the image by two to three stops.

Exposure time

There are benefits to using a long Exposure time. 2-5 sec requires a fast, but smooth movement to darken the sky within a split second. 5-10 sec gives you a extra exposure of the middleground.

Magic Cloth Movement

In most conditions I bring the cloth down with a fast movement and up slowly.


Change the Movement to allow several short exposures of the sky, rather than one initial exposure (30 sec or more exposures only).

Meter for the sky and {multiply that shutter speed by three or four|then x 4 to get the total exposure time.

See more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Tours.

Thanks for popping by

“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
— Diane Arbus

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