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  1. #1

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    Carlsbad Caverns lighting

    I haven't been down in the cave in many years but now that I've got the Mamiya I want to go before the tourist season. Planning on Saturday if nothing comes up. I know I'll need the tripod but what kind of exposures can I expect, using the lighting they provide? A lot of photos I see posted on the web are awfully orange, so I got two rolls of tungsten film. I also have plenty of Velvia on hand. Are the lights still tungsten or are they metal halide now? I also will take black and white (those changeable film backs are great). I have the 35mm lens so I can get some real wide shots. I do have a Sunpak 622 Super with the zoom head, but seems like I recall they don't like people using flashes. Is that true? Also I doubt it is wide enough for the lens I have, unless I take multiple exposures and move the light around. I finally got my enlarger all set up for 645 so I can do some b&w printing at home instead of sending them out.

    Doug

  2. #2
    glbeas's Avatar
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    I'd forget the flash except for farly close areas, caves tend to eat light in a bad way. These large rooms need about 10 to 20 times the power the sunpak can usually deliver. The existing lighting is extremely variable so you'll have to make judgements on what will work. Talk to the rangers about the tripod and get in very early, as soon as the cave is open to avoid the worst of the crowds. Good luck.
    Gary Beasley

  3. #3

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    Check out the gallery at the site below. If you can use flash - the larger flash bulbs are your best bet. There are some good examples at the meggaflash site of caves and a great one of a train on a tressel at nite.

    http://www.meggaflash.com/

    Gord

  4. #4

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    Well, I went and shot three rolls. I developed two this afternoon, the color roll is at the lab waiting processing. There were very few people there, it's off season. The rangers were extremely nice, not a single problem. I used the 35mm lens wide open for all the shots, at times it wasn't wide enough. The lighting has been updated (less energy) so color temp is all over the place. They even have led lights. A lot of warm white compact flourescents but also cool white ones. Exposures ranged from two to 30 seconds. Here is one shot:


    Doug

  5. #5
    reellis67's Avatar
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    Caves need a really powerful flash, by that I mean flashbulbs. You should be able to use Press 25 bulbs and get reasonable results in small and medium rooms, but larger bulbs would be better in large and very large rooms. Check in advance on the tripod use rules - some commercial caves do not allow them and others do. A tripod will make the end result much better, but if you can't use one, take a clamp tripod along and use the handrails when you can.

    Chris Howes has two really useful books on cave photography, but I believe that they are both out of print. They are fairly easy to come by and might give you some good ideas.

    Try to light specific formations from the side to get nice shadows which will give a good sense of texture and detail - frontal lighting on formations tends to leave a burned out area with deep shadows in the background. Some thin formations looks perticularly good when backlit with a flash, but it can be a bear to meter. Best to take a few frames using different settings just to be sure if you have problems metering these. When shooting a room, try to meter for the existing lighting and use the flash to bring up areas that are not well lit, but don't forget the inverse square rule! You might find that you get better results working smaller areas and specific formations unless you have a way to steady the camera for a long exposure.

    Good luck, and please show us what you got when you get back!

    - Randy



 

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