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Thread: Cave Photogrraphy

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    Cave Photogrraphy

    G'day all.
    I took some mates wild caving at Wee Jasper 5-6 march. When we got in side the cave i realised how nice Some of the formations are and that i wished i had a camera to record the trip a bit better. One of my mates had a Nikon point and shoot but it couldnt focus in such little light. Soon i hope to get a Nikon D7000 With 18-105mm + 55-300mm to take with me.

    My question is has any one done some wild cave photography and can give some hints asto what gear i need (eg. lenses flash units) and and what sort of settings to use?.
    I will be using the D7000 for my cave photos when i get it.

    Any imput would be much apreciated.

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    If you can take a tripod in and use that it would allow you to use longish exposures at a medium to low ISO level while using a torch/es to light the cave interior.
    My thoughts would be to use the 18-105 at the wide end to give a sense of depth to the area ( depending on room of course ) and to light the scene with several small but powerful LED torches placed strategically around.
    Andrew
    Nikon, Fuji, Nikkor, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and too many other bits and pieces to list.



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    Thanks for your imput Andrew.
    Some of the chambers are very larg (100ft tall and 20-30ft wide) and some very small but geting a tripod in should be ok. im also thingking of geting one of those small bendy tripods for the tighter spots. I hadnt thougt of the led torches even though i have cople of them.

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Sounds ideal then, set the camera up in aperture priority, somewhere around F/8 and 800-1600 ISO, focus a little to a third of the way into the cave that is interesting with the aid of the LED torch/es and then keep the light constant and press the shutter and let the camera meter the time needed to expose properly ( matrix metering will work well here ), well lit and exposed areas will come up predominantely and shadows will become your friend to add depth.
    Experimentation by "painting" the scene with light from the torch/es will also provide interesting results if you have the time and interesting cave interiors.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Have a look at some of the photography on the net, for the 'touristy' caves. Look at the lighting, take in where the light are..hidden behind stalectites etc. Look at the photos that grab your attention and study them and work out what it is that makes them grab your attention and try to replicate that, with your LED lights etc.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    The cave at Wee Jasper is quite a nice little cave. As for cameras, I have only used P&S or advanced P&S cameras in such and other than some limits in slow shutter speed, have not had much in the way of problems. I have found that resting the camera on a railing works as few public caves would welcome tripods. A monopod or a gorillapod may be a better choice (but I hate my gorillapod as I find it too unstable with a dSLR despite its 3kg rating).

    As for flash, you wouldn't use it except for unlit caves. It will remove much of the colour of the formations and with bits in the frame often at quite different distances from the camera you will wind up with a mix of underexposed and overexposed sections.

    As for lenses, the suggestion of the kit zoom (the 18-105mm for the D7000) would be a good choice. Faster primes such as the 35mm f/1.8 may be useful but I would think the advantage of the zoom would be compelling in lens choice. Maybe something like the 17/18-50mm f/2.8 zooms would be a good choice too.
    Last edited by peterb666; 20-03-2011 at 6:03pm.
    Cheers

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    Thanks Rick and Peterb666.
    Rick i will have a look at the net and check out cave photos as to where others have placed lights.
    Peterb666 yes the caves at wee jasper are nice but i have only been in the wild caves. Have been thingking of going to careys cave at Wee Jasper also.
    My main intrest is wild caves that have no lighting only the light you cary in with you and lots of mud, humidity, bolders to climb and slid down lots of tunles to explore.

    Thanks againe for your imput.
    Jeramy

    Camera: Nikon D7000
    Lenses: Nikon 18-105mm 55-300mm

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    Here is a photo from inside a cave that I posted earlier this month. It might help.
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...92-Golden-Cave
    Mick.

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    Thanks Mick.
    That looks good i will have to go there some day.
    I like the yellow collophane idear will give it a go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by disco2td5 View Post
    Peterb666 yes the caves at wee jasper are nice but i have only been in the wild caves. Have been thingking of going to careys cave at Wee Jasper also.
    That's the one I was thinking of.

    My main intrest is wild caves that have no lighting only the light you cary in with you and lots of mud, humidity, bolders to climb and slid down lots of tunles to explore.
    I would think that LED torches would be the way to go. You could probably mount these on little gorillapods to make positioning easier. As for a camera if you are doing this sort of thing, a small, waterproof (or at least weather resistant) camera may be best but you also want long exposure and manual controls. Not sure if there is anything that really fits the bill at the moment. In larger cameras, something like the Olympus E-5 and 12-60mm zoom would fit the bill execpt it is neither light or small. There are some smaller bodied Pentax dSLRs and a couple of weather resistant lenses.

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    Colour flash units, set off at different times & coloured led lights as back lights too.
    More colour the better, can look like coral !
    You can have someone run around & paint with coloured lights, they won't be seen !
    Col
    Last edited by colinbm; 20-03-2011 at 9:03pm.

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    G'day Disco

    My 2-bob's worth for you would be to to the P&S route - the 'kiss' rule - I would suggest a 'simple' camera with 3x or 5x zoom
    Underground you have enough stuff to drag around and size & weight will be a major factor

    From lots of (tourist) caving, most of my images are in the w/a zoom end - tho, yes I have many at the tele zoom end too -
    Settings I use regularly are WB=tungsten, 200-ISO, -1EV [to highlight formations & overcome metering imbalances]
    If I may offer 2 samples ...



    both shot at 1/4 sec & 1x zoom & 3x zoom

    Hope this helps
    Regards, Phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
    google me at Travelling School of Photography
    images.: flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

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    +1 on the tripod. Even with a point a shoot it will allow you to get those longer exposures that you need. Practice makes perfect so keep trying different things (ie playing with torches, lighting different aspects of your frame) and as Rick said, study the photos that draw your attention.

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    thanks every one for your coments when i get my camera i will head to the caves and give it a go then i will post some picks.

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    I do a lot of cave/drain work and would suggest a tripod and cable release. Set camera on manual - Bulb. Lens on manual - put to infinity then back a tiny bit. f7.1, ISO 100.

    Your choice of incandescent or LED torch depending on whether you want a yellow or white/blue hue. Use to torch to "paint" everywhere - evenly covering all areas. You can walk in front of the camera without showing up on the final pic. Spend anything from 1 minute to 30 minutes doing your light painting.

    Enjoy!

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