Joseph Hallenbeck

Last night, I took my first stab at cave photography while on a caving trip with two friends into Jewel Cave. Out of 61 shots taken that night, only two felt “okay.”

JECA Wild Caving
Route

Settings

  • Nikon D80 with a 35mm lens (52mm equivalent)
  • Shutter Speed 1.3s
  • Aperature f/11.0
  • ISO 100
  • 2 Vivitar 283s with a firefly 2 flash

Jessie Ketchum models on the canyoning portion of Jewel Cave’s Wild Caving Route. A slave flash fired by Vicki Bierwirth from below lights the corridor beyond Jessie while a secondary flash, held at arm’s length from the camera, provides fill for Jessie. I would’ve liked a secondary assistant, and perhaps a third flash to light the fifteen foot pit that Jessie is straddling. A more active pose, perhaps with Jessie moving towards instead of away from the camera, would have enhanced the composition.

JECA Wild Caving
Route

Settings

  • Nikon D80 with a 35mm lens (52mm equivalent)
  • Shutter Speed 1/60s
  • Aperature f/8.0
  • ISO 100
  • Vivitar 283 with a firefly 2 flash and on-camera flash

Again, Jessie sits on the canyoning section of the route, but this time looking upwards. I instructed Vicki to aim the vivitar at the ceiling above Jessie while an on-camera flash provided fill light. Although I like the effect of the lit ceiling, the on-camera flash gives Jessie a flattened look and failed to properly light her, leaving her too dark against the lighter ceiling. I used photoshop to highlight Jessie out of the foreground and lighten her, but this only further reduced the depth of her shadows.

"Cave Photography & Other Horrors" by Joseph Hallenbeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Support this and future posts on