5 Simple Tips To Make Better Cavern Photographs

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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:

  1. Various formations and intricate details.
  2. The magnificent scale.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #1: Show Formations.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #1: Show Formations.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

  1. 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.

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #2: Change Your Point of View.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

  1. 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.

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #3: Show Scale.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #3: Show Scale.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

  1. 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.

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #4: Look for High-Contrast.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

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.

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #4: Look for High-Contrast.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

  1. 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.

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #5: Look for Something Unique.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

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!

5 Simple Tips for Cavern Photography. Cave Photography Tips by Prathap. Luray Caverns in West Virginia. Nature Photography Simplified.

Cavern Photography Tip #5: Look for Something Unique.
Luray Caverns in West Virginia.
Image Copyright: Prathap Photography

Final Thoughts

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.


 

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11 Responses to 5 Simple Tips To Make Better Cavern Photographs

  1. Hussain Kodinhi December 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    Amazing photographs! This is the fist time I am reading something about cave photography.

    • Prathap December 27, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

      Thank you! Hussain. I hope you liked it.

  2. Suphal Dasgupta December 28, 2015 at 1:37 am #

    Dear Friend,
    After bird photography it is a great New Year gift from you. Amazing Cave photographs. Of course
    National Geographic Standard.

  3. Rupa February 5, 2016 at 2:42 am #

    I have been to Luray Caverns and a few others around the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to photograph them in that low light, especially with a point and shoot I had at that time. I happen to take some basic, good photos I could share with family but nothing great that I would proudly display. My next trip to caverns, I will hopefully do a little better with my prized possession D7000 and your advice (provided the family in tow is patient enough lol!).

    • Prathap February 9, 2016 at 11:33 am #

      I can understand how difficult it is to shoot with a point and shoot, Rupa. I would recommend you to take a tripod alongside. It will prove invaluable. Also, make it a point to get few good photographs, so that you get more time to explore.
      The more you see the photographic opportunities, the more you will improve.

  4. Ron February 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    Hello Prathap, I take it that these were the cavern photos you promised to send me some time ago. These are just so amazing. I am wrapt in the reflection images. Thankyou for sharing these ones. Well done. Ron Australia.

    • Prathap February 15, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      Dear Ron, yes these are for you 🙂 I think I mentioned it in my mail about the blog post too. I am glad that you liked it.

  5. Vijay December 27, 2016 at 1:01 am #

    Good tips. I am actually reading this on a bus tour & luray is our first attraction. So thanks for the excellent tips.

    • Prathap January 4, 2017 at 11:35 pm #

      That’s fantastic, Vijay. I hope you have had nice time in Luray.

  6. Suresh Raut May 7, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

    I would like to have ur cultuer photographyaphy tutorial

  7. Suresh Raut May 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    Or tutorial on culture photography

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