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About Deviant Official Beta Tester DavidMale/United Kingdom Groups :iconinfrared-club: Infrared-Club
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Caves, Cameras and Creativity

Journal Entry: Thu Mar 26, 2015, 7:42 AM
Deep in the heart of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, lies the tiny village of Buchan. Set in the most beautiful, rolling hilly countryside, Buchan has one huge claim to fame - it is the site of some magnificent subterranean limestone caverns, rather prosaically known as the Buchan Caves.… Naturally, I had to try to take some photographs while touring through these underground marvels with their stalactites (c- ceiling) and stalagmites (g - ground) and the fabulous hanging curtains of limestone deposits which have built up over millennia from water slowly percolating from the surface into these hidden river courses. I shot about 80 frames during the tours, and the first two images below gives you the idea. Unfortunately, these are just about the only shots that are worth posting in terms of conventional images. This is not because of any limitation of the camera or lenses. That Canon 5D Mark III has such a clever exposure system that I did not need to use flash, but just let the ISO (sensitivity) be determined by the camera itself making use of available light. No, the camera was not the problem. Nor was the availability of light. There were plenty of lamps cleverly positioned to maximise visual impact, as seen on those two shots.

Buchan Caves 1 by Okavanga  Buchan Caves 2 by Okavanga

The problems that arose were three fold. First, other people crammed into a small, dark space moving slowly along low tortuous passages, all wanting their snaps and getting in one another's road. I could deal with that by hanging back or pushing forward out of their way. Second, while the was enough light to capture images, the quality of the light was poor - different sections of the tunnels had different light sources - tungsten bulbs, LEDS, halogen lamps. Consequently, what photographers call white balance was impossible to control. A white limestone deposit would be reddish at one location and bluish somewhere else, notwithstanding what coloured inclusions were actually present. The solution to that problem lies in post-processing - adjusting the white balance to give consistent results based on a standard. The third problem, however, was much more difficult to solve. If you look at the third image, you may see what the difficulty is. It shows lots of stalactites (reddish orange), a great mound of white (?) limestone, and lots of dark areas. Without the presence of the people in the lower right corner, how would you know what the scale of this image was? Evidently, this is a large space, from the smallish size of the people, but what size? Take the people out of the image and there are no visual clues - no sense of how big or small things are. Of course, when you are there you can see, but the camera can't do this without some form of marker. Just to labour the point, check out the fourth image and ask yourselves what size are the onion-like stalactites? They could be tiny like marbles, or about the size of grapes, onions, tennis balls.... If you guessed plums, then you would be correct.

Buchan Caves 3 by Okavanga  Buchan Caves 4 by Okavanga

So, without putting a scale marker into each shot , the viewer has difficulty assessing the scale of the images. I've chosen to take a different approach to resolving this problem - a creative approach where I make use of the shapes and tones to create abstracted images, whilst trying to keep some element of their origin.

The fifth image is a half-way house between the the "real" and the abstract. It is the same area as shown in the first image, taken at a slightly different angle, and altered using the solarization filter in the Color EFEX Pro 4 software suite from Nik/Google. Solarization alters the ratio of positive to negative colour and tone within an image. At the extreme white becomes black, red becomes yellow and so on. But the strength of the solarization technique lies in the intermediate settings to develop changes in tone.  Now, in this image there is a strong sense of water cascading down to the right hand corner. Of course, there is no water - it is solid limestone, but the impression is what matters.

Limestone Abstract 1 by Okavanga

Stalactites, hanging form the roofs of the caves, are often wet from water that slowly runs over them before evaporating to leave the chalky deposits. The impression of dripping and damp  is often very strong. In the next image, I have transformed that feeling into one of gloopy treacle-like flow, again making use of the solarization filter. By darkening the foreground objects, the stalactites, and lightening the background, the structures seem to stand out. Alternatively, the viewer can treat this as solely an abstract image, and read whatever they like into it. The following image has been similarly filtered in order to bring out the rhythm of the rocks, and the final shot becomes even more abstract and presents an optically ambiguous image of limestone formations where background and foreground appear interchangeable.

Limestone Abstract 2 by Okavanga  Limestone Abstract 3 by Okavanga

Limestone Abstract 4 by Okavanga

The Buchan Caves offered quite spectacular views on a personal basis. For photography, however, unless you have lots of time plus some professional lighting and some form of spatial marking, results can be pretty bland. In order to overcome that last difficulty, the photographer can use modern software and a creative mind to make different types of images, in this case abstracted forms.


David aka Okavanga :iconokavanga:

This Journal Skin was designed by Night-Beast modified by Okavanga

Journal History


United Kingdom
Scientist, scholar, philosopher, writer, photographer, traveller, sportsman, oenophile, whisky drinker, beer imbiber, cat lover, art historian, walker, driver, reader, computer geek, TV watcher, music listener, photo editor, Web contributor, enjoyer of good food, expert witness, industrial consultant, legal advisor, problem solver, analyst, chemist, information retrieval expert, sometime rider, runner, keep-fit addict, hypocrisy hater, politician loather, altogether - a devious deviant.

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Add a Comment:
azieser Featured By Owner 56 minutes ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the :+fav: on Ballstar!
KPeters626 Featured By Owner 1 day ago
Thanks for the fave!
Okavanga Featured By Owner 1 day ago
Cappuccino8 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Photographer
thanks for the fave :)
Okavanga Featured By Owner 1 day ago
KPeters626 Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Thanks for the fave!
Okavanga Featured By Owner 2 days ago
gigi50 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you David for the watch :highfive:
Okavanga Featured By Owner 2 days ago
My pleasure - you always have interesting work.


fotoponono Featured By Owner 3 days ago
David, thank you very much for all the pics you have added to your collection.  Highly appreciated
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