Ice Cave

Alaska Ice Cave from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo

Video shot as I was getting ready to make some HDR source images.  Always be extremely careful when dealing with ice caves.  Many are not safe at all so perform a good survey of the scene and judge integrity, traction, and overall security.  It is also a great idea to not do this alone.  With at least one other person assistance/rescue gets much easier.

The textures, color, and tonal range inside the cave were amazing.  Shooting here was a challenge.  The biggest issue was the melt water.  Keeping the camera and lens relatively dry required full protection.  I do not use any fancy type of rain gear.  I prefer fish fillet bags and rubber bands or gaffer's tape.  They make a simple, effective, and economical solution.  Light levels overall were low so I used a tripod.  Tripod setup was a little challenging with very slippery, uneven terrain (ice) as the cave floor.  The ability to rapidly adjust my tripod leg length and angle was very helpful. 

I shot a single image to assess the tones and decided I needed to shoot multiples to cover the entire range.  For the HDRs on this blog, I shot only three source files at -2, 0, and +2 E.V with a Canon 5D Mk II.  This gave me about 9ish stops of usable data which worked perfectly.  Had I needed more shots I had my Promote Control with me. 

HDR processed with HDR Efex Pro from Nik

HDR processed with HDR Efex Pro from Nik

I used Nik's HDR Efex Pro for this scene.  As many of you know I am not all that faithful to one HDR software.  I primarily find myself using Photomatix Pro but I will almost always try other options and pick the best result.  Sometimes my final result is a blend of output from different programs.  For this shot I wanted the result to show texture more than anything else.  Click on the attached images for a larger version since only when big will the real texture come out. 

On this version I pulled some saturation and pushed texture a bit more.

On this version I pulled some saturation and pushed texture a bit more.


Now I need to go back in July with my Fisheye.  Of course, this cave will be gone but I should be able to find another.  Come out and join me.

Fiat Lux!