Magic Cloth at low light


Not sure if this is a shovel or a swimming flipper. Anyway, the shapes and colours are pleasant. On the ice beach, Iceland.

Tagged: , Iceland , ice , ice lagoon , ice beach , glacial laggon , glacier , Jökulsárlón , jokulsarlon , long exposure , low light , Magic cloth

“Buckle up, It’s going to be a bumpy ride”!

“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” ― Henri Cartier-Bresson

The Magic Cloth Technique

The Magic Cloth Technique is a an exciting way to record a scene with high dynamic range.

Maybe you like to avoid burning the highlights in the sky like a regular northern light show, the The Magic Cloth Technique is a useful tool to carry – so convenient and inexpensive.

Magic Cloth Tricks

What you need:

Be sure to choose the right equipment for Magic Cloth photography. A lens with a Some lenses are so wide, they create their own problems, such as Nikon’s 14-24mm. For low light and night, this lens is fine, but dark filters for day time Magic Cloth photography becomes complicated.
Canon pro-DSLRs are perfect for Magic Cloth photography.

  • Simple features and manual mode
  • Amazing live view able to fine focus stars!
  • Most settings can be edited with external buttons .
  • The Red light on the back lets you know you are exposing. (useful at night)
Essential Gear Canon 5D  mark III Canon 5D mark III

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

I recommend round filters for wet conditions.

sturdy Tripod:

I have to get as low as possible for better details in the foreground so extra flexibility are certainly great options to have on your tripod. Arrange your tripod so it is strong. Magic Cloth movemnts can cause vibrations. But, this is necessary for high end long exposure photography.

Avoid raising the center column unless you really need to. The center column is the weakest link of the system.

Sometimes a tripod has a hook under it, suspend things from it to help with extra stability. Often professionals carry an empty “rock bag” that they can fill with stones to give a heavy weight which will support the tripod well – even in strong winds.

More Long Exposure advice

Shutter bulb:

Exposures can be longer than the 30 sec the camera will let you do. Having a Shutter bulb (sometimes called “infra red Shutter release) will allow you to open the shutter: as long as your power allows.

Black cloth:

Pick a big cloth like a large sock, or the same size black card. Has to be able to cover the lens completely. 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:


Begin with a dark filter or low light for a to acheive a long exposure, then over expose the photograph by two to three stops.

Shutter speed

There is an advantage to a long Shutter speed. 2-5 sec requires a fast, but smooth movement to darken the sky within a split second. 5-10 sec allows for a extra exposure of the middleground.

Magic Cloth Movement

I usually lower the cloth quickly and bring it up slowly.

Different ways

Change the Movement to capture many short exposures of the clouds, instead of a single medium exposure (30 sec and over exposures only).

Use your spot meter for the highlights and {multiply that shutter speed by three or four|then x 4 to get the total shutter speed.

Witness more Ice and Auroras on our Photo Workshops.

Thanks for popping by

“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

It was an awesome Icelandic view!! It was worth photographing.

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