• The only light for this scene, one exposure only illuminates the wall and floor nearby. Which is why this took 6 exposures: 30,20,15,8,4,2 seconds.
  • This is the first time I really photoshopped an image. I removed the electrical cord to the light and the trail drawn in red tape.

HDR Lower Cave Carlsbad Caverns

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Although you may take the Lower Cave tour in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, you may not recognize this cave opening at first glance. But I promise you, you will pass through it on the lower cave tour if you take it. This cave is looking back into the pearl beds from the main lower cave room. This image maximizes the light through a technique known as High Dynamic Range photography. Multiple exposures at various times from 2 seconds to 30 seconds combined to show a long cavern illuminated by dim and bright lights. I did a few more exposures than was recommended by Peter Jones because I wanted to bring out the details in the back of the cave.

Believe it or not, here are the min and max exposures that go into this image: www.flickr.com/photos/samurai_cat/201455634/ www.flickr.com/photos/samurai_cat/201457934/

If you would like to see close to what I have done with your eye, you can try though it will not be the same image (the eye processes things differently than a camera, and more so still than a light compression math technique). Still, if you find the cave from the the trail and your tour can stop for a moment. Look at the cave and close your eyes, count to about 20-30 seconds, then open them. The light will be brighter than this, but you will see some of the color captured here that you don't normally see from the dull gray light you see in the corner.

Enjoy, and happy caving!

View 2 more comments

  1. SamuraiCatJB 94 months ago | reply

    Thank you! This was probably one of the most complex images I have ever attempted, I will have to do so again soon to prove I really know how to do it all from start to finish, including white balance.

  2. wildpianist 94 months ago | reply

    this is the first ever shot of the inside of a cave that's lit so evenly. congrats on a well executed shot! brilliant!
    btw. who's peter jones?

  3. SamuraiCatJB 94 months ago | reply

    Peter Jones was our workshop instructor: www.extremescience.com/PJones.htm

    A great guy and friendly teacher, I at least learned a lot (I think) and tried all kinds of new methods. This particular image was the most complex one I have ever attempted since it requires so many shots to even out the light.

  4. L A I D L E R 94 months ago | reply

    Makes me think of the J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel ‘The Hobbit’. How I imagine the cave of Smaug the Dragon to be.
    Very rich, great shot.

  5. Patrick Houlihan 94 months ago | reply

    Very impressive result. Take a bow.

  6. flopper 90 months ago | reply

    beautiful exposure!

  7. Christian Wilt 88 months ago | reply

    interesting picture, beautiful work

  8. DigitalLyte 88 months ago | reply

    very interesting, very impressive outcome!

  9. Lynn Roebuck 81 months ago | reply

    Wonderful technique!

    You Rock! If you haven't done so, please add your photo to:
    Please tag your photo: CCCP

  10. LeszekZadlo 81 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Beautifull World, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

  11. mrpansing 80 months ago | reply

    Nice HDR cave photo.

  12. marvelitsky 80 months ago | reply

    this is what I would call taking the 'crafting' of an image into the digital realm. Truly gorgeous result, as well as magical use of the light-collecting aspect of the digital camera. not an analogue image, but not trying nor claiming to be. Uniquely digitally rendered, with raw material from the natural world.

    a view into a world I would never otherwise see. thanks!

  13. Bec Thomas Photography 79 months ago | reply

    Cool! I like caves they are so cool, but I don't get to be in them often.

    Theft Worthy Photos

  14. Poet for Life 79 months ago | reply

    This is an amazing HDR capture! I love to go into such caves, and I know how hard it is to take pictures in there (well, if your tour guide is chasing you through the cave without giving some minutes for photographers).

    Theft Worthy Photos

  15. marinamerritt 76 months ago | reply

    Great photo.
    I'm am doing a trip to Carlsbad in Feb. I used to go there quite frequently about 20 years ago. I'm looking forward to it this time because its the first time I'm doing it digitally.
    I'm looking forward to using various combinations of f stop and aperature, using a remote flash for unusual effects and such.
    Its a great place to go in the winter because there aern't too many people and the weather is always great underground.

  16. LeszekZadlo 71 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called 100 + Viewed Best of Geology (Add 1, Award 1), and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  17. 1888junkteam? 56 months ago | reply

    excellent image!

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