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Thread: Magic Glove Technique

  1. #1
    Wayland's Avatar
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    Magic Glove Technique

    Reading a thread about someone struggling with graduated neutral density filters I thought I would post up a simple technique I have been using since film days with some success.

    First of all I will point out that this is only practical for long, multi second, exposures on a tripod. As most of my work is landscape and I usually carry strong neutral density filters it suits my needs very well.

    In simple terms the technique is to use something dark to block the light from part of the image for part of the exposure. The advantage of this over graduated ND filters is that the transition does not have to be a straight edge and can accommodate curved or even projecting horizons.

    With my background in printing in the darkroom it came naturally to me to use my hand so I use a black glove, but I have more recently seen the method described as the "magic cloth" technique.

    First of all I make a couple of exposures to determine the exposure required in different parts of the image. (I used to use a spot meter in my film days.) Let's say for example that the foreground needs 8 seconds but the sky only needs 2 seconds.

    I start the 8 second exposure with my hand, in glove, close to the lens, obscuring the sky area and then smoothly withdraw my hand for the last two seconds. To find the right position I used to use the viewfinder which was a bit hit and miss but with my latest camera I use the Live View feature which is much more convenient.

    The longer the exposure the more flexible the technique of course. Sometimes I find myself dodging different parts of the frame in complex lighting conditions.

    This is not as flexible as HDR or exposure blending methods of course but it does sometimes allow you to get an image in one frame without complicated post processing.

    Don't delete your original test exposures because if it doesn't work out you still have the exposures you need for a manual blend in the computer.

    I don't know how useful you will find this info. It will depend on you style of photography I suppose but I thought it might be an interesting method to share.

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    IzzieK's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    This seems to be something similar to what Christina saw in her July 4th event shoot which she replicated with the handle of her camera, resulting image which not happy with. Can you show us some example of your resulting shot with this explanation? This is a very interesting method I had not come across yet...

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Thanks Wayland for the explanation of this procedure, knowledge is always useful.

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    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    In camera dodging; why not.

    I do remember doing a fair bit of dodging in the wet darkroom, but I never work gloves. I just used my bare hands and bits of cut-out cardboard. I wonder if a tool like that might not be more accurate and easier to align than using your hand.

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    Wayland's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Bare hands worked fine in the darkroom as did bits of scrap card which were always at hand.

    Out on location I don't usually have pockets full of card but I do usually have a pair of thin black gloves.

    They need to be black because your hand is illuminated by the daylight and would be recorded by the camera.

    Izzie: I'll have a look for a good example. I should be able to find something, it's just a matter of remembering which shots I did it on because it leaves no trace in the metadata of course.

    When making prints all they had to do was block the light, it didn't matter that they were illuminated by the light of the enlarger.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    There is a photographer from Iceland that uses this technique frequently - he calls it Magic Cloth technique.

    Tony Prower - he posts frequently on Naturescapes.

    http://www.naturescapes.net/forums/v...p?f=4&t=246792

    The only thing I wonder is how one adapts the edge to fit the landscape (see other thread on GND).

    Any ideas?

    Glenn

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    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    Bare hands worked fine in the darkroom as did bits of scrap card which were always at hand.

    Out on location I don't usually have pockets full of card but I do usually have a pair of thin black gloves.

    They need to be black because your hand is illuminated by the daylight and would be recorded by the camera.

    Izzie: I'll have a look for a good example. I should be able to find something, it's just a matter of remembering which shots I did it on because it leaves no trace in the metadata of course.

    When making prints all they had to do was block the light, it didn't matter that they were illuminated by the light of the enlarger.
    Thanks for the great idea Mark - I now have something else I am going to have to get around to trying.

  8. #8
    csa mt's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    In camera dodging; why not.

    I do remember doing a fair bit of dodging in the wet darkroom, but I never work gloves. I just used my bare hands and bits of cut-out cardboard. I wonder if a tool like that might not be more accurate and easier to align than using your hand.
    I agree, I had different shapes of black plastic on a wire that I used in my color darkroom. These would seem to have more control over areas than the hand; but of course whatever works for each of us, is the best technique!

  9. #9
    Wayland's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Magic Glove Technique

    Ok. not the finest example but it's recent enough for me to remember what I did.

    These are straight out of Lightroom with the same settings. The light and conditions were changing a bit but I think it still shows the difference.

    The sun was rising on the left and causing a burn out in the top corner of the frame.

    I cupped my hand to cover that corner but also a good portion of the sky and the beach down the left side without covering the rock.

    I started the exposure and counted two before sweeping my hand up and left out of frame.

    Magic Glove Technique

    For reference this was the final image after PP.

  10. #10
    Wayland's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    There is a photographer from Iceland that uses this technique frequently - he calls it Magic Cloth technique.

    Tony Prower - he posts frequently on Naturescapes.

    http://www.naturescapes.net/forums/v...p?f=4&t=246792

    The only thing I wonder is how one adapts the edge to fit the landscape (see other thread on GND).

    Any ideas?

    Glenn
    I've seen some of Tony's work. It's good stuff.

    I didn't realise he was using the same technique though, I think I first heard it called "Magic Cloth" technique by Alister Benn. Up until then I had just thought of it as "Holding back" or dodging like we used to call it in the darkroom.

    I guess it's an idea that any old hand from the wet days could come up with independently. Just seems natural to me and why I never forked out the cash for grad filter systems that all the other landscape boys seemed to think were so essential.

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    Moderator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Gary - One question that have been going through my head is WHY?

    There have got to be faster(?), easier and more repeatable ways of getting the same effiect; multiple exposures combined in post springs to mind.

  12. #12
    Wayland's Avatar
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    As stated in post one, it's not better than HDR or exposure blending but it is another tool that can be useful at times.

    I use every method that I am aware of at times. Not all at the same time of course but when I look across my body of work there are old tradition methods that would be familiar to the pioneers of photography and bleeding edge state of the art methods that are only just being invented.

    The final image above uses a good mixture of both and I am happy with the result. It could have been made in many other ways but I knew before flying home that I had what I needed and other methods for back up.

    I came back from Iceland with over four thousand files and in a few days had 120, "A" list pictures posted on my web site. I couldn't have done that by spending ages on every shot in the computer but by doing some of the work in the field I reduced it to a manageable workload.

    Sometimes you just have to work with the tools your are given.

  13. #13
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    Re: Magic Glove Technique

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this technique. As I have yet to be able to invest in filters I will try this on my next long exposure with a bright sky.

    Truly appreciated.

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