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Thread: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

  1. #1
    MrMojoRisin's Avatar
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    Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    Hello all,

    I am planning to visit a local cave this Sunday to properly celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity. I have to add that the entrance is free for this occasion so its an extra push to get my but out of bed.

    So I must ask your help regarding the techniques. Since there could be lots of people there I do not want to miss any moment for a great photo.

    If any of you had taken shots inside of the cave your experience will be of a great help to me.

    Well thank you all for your help !

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    Frankie's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    Hi Neno
    A couple week ago I was in Luray Caverns and had some fun taking photos. For whatever reason I decided not to use the flash to see what would happen. In some cases it worked. Not sure if using the flash would have been the answer to those that did not work. The biggest problem I had is the way the cavern is lit. The lighting creates hot spots in odd places.

    But as far as taking the photos when there are a lot of people, I would hang back until i had a few moments to get the shot I wanted. Since I wasn't using the flash, I didn't worry about that bothering people.

    I plan on visiting other caverns in the Virginia mountains this summer and I will try different techniques. I look forward to hearing how you managed. And I would also like to hear about the experiences others have had.

    Photography aside... enjoy the incredible wonders that you will find in the cavern. It can be truly spectacular!

    Here is one of the photos I took. You can see how bad the hot spots can be. I'm sure that with some cropping and some more PP (I adjusted the shadows a little), it could work, and I will have to play around with it and the others.

    Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    frankie

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    MrMojoRisin's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    Thanks for the input Frankie.

    I like the photo you posted, but as you sad hot spots are really tricky.
    I think I will take my tripod as well. I have an idea to take a long exposure photo in there to capture movement of people. Not sure if I will make it, but hey it's worth a shot!

    I will post the image as soon as I can, but in the meantime I will still do some research and preparation.

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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    Hi Neno, you might also find this earlier discussion helpful:
    Down and Dirty - Camera settings for Caverns?

  5. #5
    MrMojoRisin's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    Quote Originally Posted by McQ View Post
    Hi Neno, you might also find this earlier discussion helpful:
    Down and Dirty - Camera settings for Caverns?
    Thank you so much Sean. I did a search before starting this thread but I used the word cave instead of cavern....

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    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    My advice? Don't go! (Just kidding -- I have a morbid fear of caves. Sheer terror.)

    Have fun and show us your pics!

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    A few tips...

    1. Don't use flash
    2. Use a tripod if the cavern allows tripods.
    3. Don't shoot with a terribly high ISO if you are using a tripod ISO 200 is fine. The shutter can vary
    4. Use mirror lock-up if your camera is capable
    5. Use a remote release or self-timer
    6. I found that the best exposures can be done using AEB at 1 stop intervals with a -1 stop exposure compensation. This gives you one exposure as the meter reads, one exposure 1-stop under and one exposure 2-stops under. Great for HDR imaging...
    7. Shoot in AV mode so focus doesn't change by switching aperture
    8. Bring a small flashlight
    9. Ensure you have all your equipment with you when you enter the cavern. It's a pain to run out of battery power with your spare battery left in your car at the surface.
    10. Ensure you are dressed for the excursion. Often caverns are a lot cooler than the surface temperatures...

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    Re: Question for all fellow photographers regarding caves

    Seems that Jim Morrison has come back from the dead.... I know I am very late in responding to this question as I only joined the forum tonight about half an hour ago. Wish I had seen your question earlier. I have been a cave photography specialist for 43 years now (since 1969) and could have given you some suggestions. I've taught six cave photography workshops at Carlsbad Caverns National Park over the years and plan more in the future. Anyway, your query could take a book of information to answer as it is one of the more difficult forms of photography out there.

    One of the biggest problems in photography in a commercial cave is the lighting. For one thing, their lighting is designed and placed for the common tourist and thus not necessarily for the photographer. I've photographed in about 20 commercial caves (cause they're the ones with the money....) and have been appalled at some of the lighting and wiring. It's a wonder people will even come and visit some of these caves! Anyway, the point being that the light is not always in the optimum location for a good shot. In addition, the light sources can vary considerably. For example, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, I did a three week shoot for the Park in 2003 for their Public Domain Photo Gallery. I discovered that they had about every single lighting type of bulb strewn throughout the cave: incandescent, fluorescent of all different shades, mercury vapor, sodium vapor and now a smattering of LED lighting. Fortunately, I had about 6 large strobes from Paul C Buff on loan to light things with consistent light sources. Having photographed in there using the in-cave lighting during my photo workshops, it has been nearly impossible to color correct for some of the crossover lighting of tungsten on one side, fluorescent on the other side and similar other problems.

    Nearly all my work is in wild undeveloped caves that require bringing everything in on your back and frequently going down long pits to access the beautiful stuff. Since there is NO light in a cave other than what you bring, I use small strobes (Vivitar 285 and 283 and a handful of miscellaneous others) with Firefly Slave units designed specifically for cave photography situations. I place anywhere from 1 to 10 strobes in different places, depending on the complexity of the shot. Since they are all slaved and thus synchronized, I can shoot at the maximum shutter speed that my Nikon D700 allows for flash shooting: 1/250th sec. I frequently use a tripod as I want my shots to be repeatable and bracketed if need be. In addition, the shots frequently need lighting adjustments after the initial intuitive lighting set up. If the camera is on tripod in the best composition, repeating the shots is much easier. Besides, a tripod acts like a third hand for me when what I really need is about 10 hands!!

    There is certainly a TREMENDOUS amount of information to learn about cave photography and I have only touched on the most rudimentary parts of it here. If you want to learn more, I suggest two publications in particular: Images Below by Chris Howes is the bible of cave photography. It was written before the tsunami of digital photography came along, so it does not touch on digital issues. Nonetheless, it is a superb book on the subject and the best one I know of for basics. Another excellent publication is the CD "On Three: An introduction to digital photography for cavers" by John Woods. It is profusely illustrated with many interactive/rollover images and all the info you can possibly ask for about photography in caves with a digital camera. If you want info on where to find either the book or CD, please contact me directly at pjcaver "at" gwi.net. I am happy to answer and talk about photography of all sorts and of course mostly about cave photography.

    Images to come at a later time after I figure out the upload your photos problem

    Shot in the Dark Cave Photography

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