Fairy Cave Revisited

It had been quite a while since the last time I set foot in Fairy Cave. The last visit there proved somewhat fruitless due to the fact that I relied solely on my camera’s high ISO capabilities to shoot in near pitch dark conditions, for forgetting to bring my tripod. The ensuing result were photos that were a little on the soft edge due to extensive in-camera noise removal.
Photographing the interior of the cave proved more difficult than the last time. Not only was the light intensity lower, but it has only just stopped raining and it was so extremely humid inside! Imagine the viewfinder fogging up each time I looked thought it! And the stench inside the cave was oh so unbearable too.

But I digress; complains aside. The stuff I brought along with me were:

  1. Canon EOS 500N film SLR.
  2. Nikon D7000, my trusty companion.
  3. My tripod, with plastic socks made from cut up plastic bags. (I couldn’t bear the idea of bat’s s**t sticking onto the legs of the tripod 🙂 )
  4. A small torch, which really was the flash of my mobile phone.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of photographing the cave was that there was not enough light to judge my composition, thus making the right judgement very difficult if not impossible. The low light also made it difficult to autofocus. Thank goodness the Nikon had all 39 autofocus points doing their magic.

Another thing about the lighting in the cave was the heightened contrast between the dark and light areas. It was virtually impossible to have a single exposure capture the entire range of light so I took several exposures, ranging from 30 to 2 seconds, and made a HDR image out of them. Shown above is an HDR composite image.

Keeping the camera still during the long exposures was one thing considering that my tripod was a flimsy and cheap one. The last time I took it out for some night shoot it literally swayed in the wind! In the cave, it was not so much of a problem with the wind, but I was hoping to have a tripod that could hold kilograms of gear without worrying that it will tip over, especially when you can’t see that we’ll in the dark.

Here are the individual Jpeg images before I combined them to form a HDR image.

Exposure: 25 seconds. Aperture: f/5

Exposure: 10 seconds. Aperture: f/5

Exposure: 5 seconds. Aperture: f/5

Exposure: 1 second. Aperture: f/5

Exposure: 30 seconds. Aperture: f/5. Deciding I needed a bit more texture and detail for the cave’s floor, I decided to lengthen the shutter duration.

And here are the HDR images.

The cave interior
The outer ‘chamber’ of the cave, overlooking a sky-roof.

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