Magic Cloth Images


An evening in the Westfjords

Tagged: , Icelandaurora , magiccloth , iceland , photo tours , westfjords , Tony Prower

Visual Hazzard WARNING!

Have you ever been so 100% at one with Nature behind a camera on a shot?

“If your pictures are not good enough you are not close enough.” ― Robert Capa

The Magic Cloth Technique

The Magic Cloth Technique is a a clever technique to record a scene with high dynamic range.

Maybe you like to balance the highlights in the sky with the shadows on the ground like a typical northern light show, the The Magic Cloth Technique is a useful gadget for your camera bag.

Hints for Magic Cloth photography


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

I recommend round filters for rainy atmospheres.

Heavy Tripod:

I love to get low down for foreground detail so folding legs are definitely nice options on your tripod. Set up your tripod to make it sturdy. Moving the Magic Cloth can introduce vibrations. But, this is good practice 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 set up.

Sometimes a tripod has a hook , hang things from it to provide extra stability. Often Travel photographers carry a special tripod bag to place rocks and stones to give a good weight which will support the tripod steady – even in strong winds.

More Long Exposure links…


Remote shutter:

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

Magic Sock:

Pick a big cloth like a hat, or black card of similar size. Has to be able to cover the lens completely. Better to be Black. A non-reflective colour is preferable. You can normally make a straight edge out of any cloth.

What to do:


Use a filter or darkness for a longer exposure time, then over expose the scene by two to three stops.

Exposure time

There is an advantage to a long Exposure time. 2-5 seconds requires a quick, but controlled movement to darken the sky within a reflex time. 5-10 seconds gives you a controlled exposure of the foreground.

Magic Cloth Action

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

Alternative Methods

Change the Action to allow a dozen short exposures of the sky, rather than one initial exposure (30 seconds & over exposures only).

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

Check out some Auroras on our Photo Tours.

Thanks for sharing!

“The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.”
— Scott Lorenzo

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