Author Topic: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame  (Read 1111 times)

Offline chunky

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Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« on: March 12, 2018, 10:29:14 pm »
Those who know my wife will find it no surprise that at the RGS weekend in London, whilst I was busy eating cake, she was fluttering her eyelids at people and asking how she could get to see some of the amazing places we had just learnt about in the lectures. I was fortunate enough to have had a few of my photos displayed across some of the weekends events and through a combination of the two wound up being invited as second Camera to Carsten Peter on a forthcoming 3D scanning project in Škocjanske jame, Slovenia.
I had previously gone to Meghalaya as second camera to the very talented Chris Howes and so had an idea of how to play nicely with other photographers, but was still somewhat nervous of working with and around a National Geographic photographer.

There was of course a huge amount of work going on during the week and as ever this post is only from my own personal experience and to show off some of the pictures captured during the week. I wouldn't have been able to get the shots without the patient help of a lot of people mentioned at the end of the post. Hopefully once the entire project is completed a fuller account will be published, but that is for bigger fish than I :)

As we assembled on the first morning I wondered if my expedition pack rammed with 15kg of camera gear was overkill, until Carsten emerged with twice the amount!


Carsten with his light weight camera set for the day.

He did find a unique way of transporting the gear though as the bags seemed to grow pairs of legs and miraculously transport themselves! Ok maybe not quite, but it was quite a sight seeing Claire loaded with Carsten's kit bag, which was bigger than she was, each morning.


Poor Claire, this would become her norm for caving attire during the week.
 
The main team objective was to scan Martel's Chamber to confirm its status as Europes largest chamber, but snow melt and warming weather would mean rain showers and the river crossings would not be passable during the coming week. Because of the nature of the traverses and show cave sections this would mean that only a team of two at any one time would be required for the scanning itself and so the photographers were let loose with the remaining team members.

We had made our way to the furthest part of the cave that we could access and both Carsten and I begun unpacking our camera kit and figuring out how we were going to take shots around each other. The others joked that it was like watching two stags circling each other, but we soon found our stride and once even had Carsten holding flashguns for me!
The passage was well over a hundred meters high and twenty to thirty meters wide. It would mean that my usual technique of using strobes wasn't going to cut it and I would need to use a mix of strobes, bulbs and long exposures, techniques that I was not totally used to. I had contacted Megaflash in Ireland and ordered some hellishly expensive PF300 flash bulbs and spent some time making firing mechanisms for them and was hugely impressed by the volume and spread of light, though playing with these was an expensive game and I worked out that my first shot had cost me around £40 in bulbs to shoot. To give some idea of scale in the centre of the shot in Yellow is Jess with a PF300 bulb lighting the distance.


The first river crossing in The Hanke Canal

Unfortunately I never got a chance to see any of Carsten's shots but it was like watching a performance rather than a photograph with him choreographing stobes, bulbs and light painting along with movement to create light blur. Some shots taking over 4hrs to create. Whilst I'm not sure I wouldn't be lynched by my club members if I took that kind of time and attention to detail over my pics, I did learn a huge amount and the initial awkwardness soon wore off as we began to have a laugh and relax in to a rhythm.

I found shooting the 'wild cave' sections reasonably comfortable, although because of the size of the shots and need to communicate via radio's to set them up they inevitably took longer than I was used to.


The fossil series Škocjanske jame


Jess in the great Hall, Silent Cave.

What took more time to get my head around was just how to work with the show cave parts. There were fabulous 'Tourist' paths created in 1800's that were only accessible to us and created a glimpse in to how hard core a show cave would have been a couple of hundred years ago. I wound up trying to combine the two in an old meets new kinda way, though given half a chance I'd rather shoot 'wild' caves every time.


Ascending the old paths thirty meters above the river below toward the present day paths toward Silent Cave.


A huge mix of fixed lighting, strobes and bulbs bring together the natural cave with the old and new paths. Deep in to the shot is the original bridge with the travers routes to the side, quite something for a paying tourist to experience!


The 3D scanner in action


I learnt so much on this trip, not least of which is that photographing the bigger stuff is a bloody expensive but rewarding hobby!

My thanks goes to everyone on the team: Roo, Claire , Carsten , Peter, Caron, Jess, Andy & everyone at the Karst Institute Slovenia.

I didn't want to bore people too much putting every shot up, Once day I'll actually get around to sorting a website, but for now if interested they are gradually making their way on to my flickr feed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Online David Rose

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 11:05:31 pm »
Great shots, Mark.

Offline Speleotron

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 11:58:20 pm »
Great photos, it's the most impressive cave I've ever seen
In search of taverns measureless to man

Online Ian Ball

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 12:33:27 pm »
Wowzers!   :clap2:

Offline Goydenman

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 05:05:46 pm »
amazing photos thanks

Online Pegasus

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 05:27:46 pm »

Unfortunately I never got a chance to see any of Carsten's shots


 :o  ;D

Fab post, Mark  :thumbsup:

Online MarkS

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 10:00:29 pm »
Just stunning. Thanks for posting. Brings back great memories of visiting!

Offline chunky

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2018, 09:48:05 am »
Thanks for the kind comments all  :thumbsup:

Offline adventurebarbie

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2018, 10:49:40 am »
Frickin awesome, delighted for ya
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Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 10:53:00 am »
That old tourist path looks like something from the Mines of Moria. Looks great.

Offline Katie

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Re: Photographing the big stuff Škocjanske jame
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 11:17:10 am »
Also reminded me of the mines of Moria! But hopefully without the Belrog.
Fantastic photos - looks an amazing cave!