Magic Cloth Photos


Forgive the artistic edges, I felt it was crying out for them. Just a big rock in a glacier landscape at Fjallsarlon.

Tagged: , Iceland , glacial laggon , glacier , clouds , autumn , fall , rock , long exposure , low light , Magic cloth

What a super moment it was to have the chance to photograph such amazing Nature in a super location.

„The most important thing for us is to always be learning, push the boundaries, and to find something new and different with each shoot.” ― Daniel and Lindsay Stark

The Magic Cloth Photography Technique

The Magic Cloth Photography Technique is a a unique way to photograph a high dynamic range scene.

If you need to balance the highlights in the sky with the shadows on the ground like a normal sunrise beach, the The Magic Cloth Photography Technique is a great accessory to carry – so convenient and inexpensive.

Hints for Magic Cloth photography


Neutral Density Filter: (not at night, only in daylight)

I recommend screw-on filters for damp conditions.

strong Tripod:

I love to get as low as possible for better details in the foreground so extra flexibility are definitely nice features to look out for choosing your tripod. Arrange your tripod to make it sturdy. Magic Cloth movemnts can cause vibrations. But, this is essential for fine art long exposure photography.

Don’t heighten the center column unless you really need to. The center column is the weakest link of the system.

Sometimes a tripod has a hook , hang something from it to help with more sturdiness. Often professionals carry a bag that they can fill with stones to give a good weight which will support the tripod steady – fine for Magic Cloth photography.

Remote shutter:

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

Magic Sock:

Pick a big cloth like a hat, or black card of similar size. Must be large enough to completely cover the lens. Better to be Dark. A non-reflective colour is best. Use any shaped cloth, as long as you can get a straight edge.

The Magic Cloth Technique:


Start with a dark filter or low light for a longer exposure time, then over expose the photo by two to three stops.

Exposure time

It is preferable to work with a long Exposure time. 2-5 seconds requires a quick, but controlled action to cover the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 seconds gives you a extra exposure of the middleground.

Magic Cloth Action

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

Different ways

Change the Action to allow many short exposures of the clouds, instead of a single medium exposure (30 sec + exposures only).

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

See more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Tours.

Many thanks for visiting!

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
— Elliott Erwitt

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This