Have you ever been to a Cavern?
Caverns are so exceptional. Our first ever visit to caverns was the Luray caverns in West Virginia. It was a mesmerizing experience for sure. The formations were brilliant and the story behind them is spell-binding.
Photographing caverns is like photographing Switzerland. Wherever you point your camera, you will get a decent photograph. The missing thing here will be the light.
Fortunately, I took my tripod that day. Because I knew there will be hardly any light. How? Caverns are in the underground 🙂
The issue was that the walking path was quite small and we were too many people. I was invariably blocking the path of other tourists. Though people were very co-operative, I was feeling bit hesitant. We were on a guided tour and were supposed to follow the guide.
Whenever, I stop to photograph, the guide will call out saying “the man with the tripod, please come fast,” and everyone will laugh. After few minutes, he stopped calling me out and I and my wife slowly moved away from the crowd.
Now, my job was to find the right spot for making good photographs. There were few things that I wanted to showcase:
- Various formations and intricate details.
- The magnificent scale.
- High contrast due to the artificial lighting system.
Based on these aspects, here I present you 5 simple tips that help you make better cavern photographs.
- Show Formations
Most important aspect of caverns is their formation and the intricate details. It could take a whole day to really photograph them in the best possible way. Because, they are amazing. The more time you spend, better photographs you will make.
However, there will be some time constraints. With the limited time, you should be able to make a quick judgement and make photographs. My best bet was to go for some compositions that were obvious.
- Change Your Point of View
Refine your composition to show something more intricate. Change your perspective that puts the viewer in that spot. Like in the below example, I have gone close to a formation to show its magnificence.
The lady on the left serves to show the scale, in fact.
- Show Scale
Showing scale becomes critical to the success in cavern photography. That’s because the viewer wouldn’t be able to recognize the sheer size of the caverns.
Your best bet is to the use the tourists as a guiding principle to show the scale. By including the tourists, I was able to show the true scale of these caverns.
- Look for High-Contrast
Because caverns are lit by artificial light, it is easier to find the high contrast scenes.
In Luray caverns, the artificial lighting was phenomenal. The authorities have taken so much care in lighting the caverns that made it easy for me to find the best compositions. I was able to get some very high contrast photographs of the caverns.
And the below one is my favorite. Emphasizing just on the brightly lit formation framed by the diagonal lines make it much more interesting and artistic at the same time.
- Look for Something Unique
There will be something that’s unique in nature. Always!
Nature is full of surprises. It will always surprise you with something that you wouldn’t have seen before. One such uniqueness in Luray Caverns was a natural reflection.
A small pool of water was reflecting the caverns on the top. The reflection was picture perfect. You wouldn’t be able to recognize the distinction between the two. Believe me. We couldn’t believe our own eyes. It was SUPERB and it was natural.
You have to see it to believe it.
Another interesting thing about this cavern was the wish pond. Though I cannot recollect properly, it was believed that if you put a coin in this pond and make a wish, it comes true.
The glowing thing in the bottom of this pond is coins. It’s full of coins!
Some of the key aspects are to get a tripod and shoot at low ISO rating. The light will be very poor at some places making it hard to photograph. In such cases, look for high-contrast scenes and try to make some artistic photographs. Don’t use flash as it looks awkward.
Look for something that’s unique about that cavern and make the best use of it. Try for simpler composition as including every formation can be too overwhelming.
Above all, enjoy the nature’s beauty and embrace it.
I hope these 5 simple tips will be useful in your next outing for Cavern Photography. Happy holidays!
Think photography. Think simple.