Carroll Cave Photo Trip Report
Permit Number: 0905-1
Participants: Rick Hines (Trip Leader), Justice Clutter, Jim Cooley, Jay Kennedy, David Mead, Bill Pfantz, Mike Smoker & Pic Walenta
On May16, 8 of us did a photo trip down the Carroll River Passage to the Water Barrier. We had three photographic goals that we met; 1) photo small formations using the Nikon 105mm macro lens, 2) available light photos to try to capture a more realistic caver view, and 3) backlit photos of the rimstone dam formation at the Water Barrier.
We took close-ups of soda straws, spathites, helictites, and more of the endless tiny flowstone formations adorning the Carroll Passage.
Most of my cave photos are taken with multiple slave flash units that light the cave in a way that cavers never see. To try to capture a view closer to what cavers see several shots were taken with “available light,” i.e. only the caver’s helmet lights. This was possible because of the high ISO capability of the Nikon D700 camera and the fast f1.4 lens that was used. The method has promise but the available light photos have room for improvement. At ISO 6400, 1/60 sec, and f1.4 there was plenty of light, enough to allow a faster shutter speed and a higher f-stop next time to sharpen up the photos.
Again, copying a shot originated by Terry Sherman, we took photos of the dry rimstone dam formation at the water barrier using slave flash units hidden behind the dam to highlight their translucent nature.
Post processing of some of the digital images used PhotoShop CS4 to merge two or more images into one. Photo merging is particularly useful for cave photography because it is frequently impossible to move back far enough to get everything in.
Thanks to the lighting crew for their patience and help carrying the gear.
A video slide show is available at
YouTube video of May 16 2009 Carroll Cave Photo trip
PS On the next trip I think we will go up-stream Thunder to the entrance of Convention Hall and use a tripod to take a 3 by 4 array of shots to cover the large white formations at the entrance to Convention Hall Passage and then see what photo merge will do. Let me know if you are interested.