Author Topic: Bigging it up in China Pt1  (Read 308 times)

Offline chunky

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Bigging it up in China Pt1
« on: November 08, 2018, 07:32:06 pm »
As with all my blogs this one will be photo heavy, miss major parts of the trip and have the inevitable error, but even so with a month of adventures I’m afraid it will wind up fairly long and so will split it in to a few blogs so as not to overload! The following is only my account and a lot of hard work was done by all in the expedition and if they don’t feature heavily in my account it is only because I was too busy playing with pretty pictures!
Huge thanks to everyone who helped me with them, which was in fact the entire team:
Roo Walters, Jon Beavan, Peter Smart, Joe Daniels, Mike Roberts, Andy Eavis, Carsten Peter and a special thanks to our ‘fixer’ Phil Rowsell who spent vast amounts of his time sorting…..well everything.

Hell yes! Was my answer when I was approached to see if I fancied coming along to China on this year’s expedition to re-scan some of the largest cave chambers in the world…..but the real allure was the chance to be the first to photgraph a recent French/Chinese collaboration that had recently been discovered.
Of course, my boss wasn’t quite as excited as I explained I’d need the whole month off…….again.

The permits were applied for and visas purchased. I realised that my current photographic set up wasn’t going to cut it for these massive chambers and I must here mention Godox.com who have been kind enough to sponsor me some of my flash equipment. As powerful as the strobe units are though, they still wouldn’t light up some of the huge caverns we would be shooting and so I contacted Carsten Peter (If you’re in to cave photography some may have heard of him ;-) to ask if he still had flash bulbs out there, so I could buy off him rather than have the hassle of shipping…..and so we ran in to our first problems.
For the previous National geographic funded project Carsten had a full pallet of bulbs shipped out and the hundreds that we not used on that project had been stored in country. Unfortunately, flooding had hit the storage rooms and only a few boxes of the bulbs had survived. With only a couple of weeks to go I contacted the only company still making the large PF series bulbs (Meggaflash) and got 2 cases, just under a hundred bulbs, shipped out ahead of me, and so the next set of problems arose.
As it was a national holiday in China the bulbs would be delayed and I would not be able to get them until a week in to the trip and to add insult to injury with huge customs charges added they wound up costing a whopping £15 per bulb!!!

Departure day arrived and I flew out with a nervous Roo Walters who had the 3D scanner and two of the largest batteries you’ve ever seen in his hand luggage. He needn’t have worried about security though as the trip out went smooth as butter and we soon joined Mike, Pete, Joe and Carsten in Helsinki for the next leg of the journey.

We landed to find torrential rain, Mad Phil, JJ and Andy waiting for us. Most of us had maxed out our 43kg luggage allowance and with not a trolley in sight it made for an interesting challenge hauling all the kit to the taxi and on to the hotel for the stopover. The next day several hours more travel on the highspeed train and a few more for the car journey to finally arrive in stunning Fengshan County. As we’d travelled through Nanning I’d been surprised by the huge high-rise buildings and busy city life. The route to Fengshan was literally a welcome change of scenery with its stunning cone karst. The others who had been before remarked on the huge changes in only a few years, with massive investment in infrastructure. Motorways seemed to be being built everywhere.







Here I will take some poetic licence as we would change around teams to visit caves on different days so to keep things simple I will deal with the caves, rather than keeping to exact days visited.

Our first target was Mawangdong, home to the largest subterranean rock bridge in the world. I have to admit to not being fond of photographing show caves, but as we would leave the show cave paths to visit areas of ‘wild cave’ that few would have been privileged to, even I succumbed to its fabulous wonder.
Scanning is as much art as science and very much like many passions ‘he who dares wins’ is a mantra that yields results. To get the very best results this would mean using Mike, Phil and Joe’s rigging talents to get both Roo and the scanner to places neither were built to go!
Mike rigged a climb up to a shelf of the rock bridge and we all made our way up to him. At this point he lead climbed, setting a route up juggy but fragile holds. Roo made his way up next and was just over half way when a foot hold disappeared and he ‘tested’ the safety line with a fall of a few feet, shredding his arm on the sharp rock, littering the white calcite with blood.
I headed up next and found Roo shaken at the top. What looked like a flat bridge was actually a sloping arete at the top and so with difficulty Roo picked his scan locations before heading back down to solid ground and a bandage!


JJ begins the massive scanning task




Mike leads the final climb to the bridge.




More dodgey scan locations!



« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 07:54:04 pm by PeteHall, Reason: Image link fixed »

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Bigging it up in China Pt1
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 07:57:53 pm »
Thanks for sharing Chunky!

I particularly like the 3rd underground picture; it took me a while to realise (on the phone screen) that the black space was behind!  :o
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Offline ObviousSpectre

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Re: Bigging it up in China Pt1
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 08:12:53 pm »
That white rock looks magnificent and the angles of those snaps are Superb ! :clap2:
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Offline chunky

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Re: Bigging it up in China Pt1
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2018, 10:30:58 pm »