The day before Christmas Eve we headed up to Carlsbad, NM and in the blinding snow and cold decided to head to the Caverns. I’d been when I was little before, Sam had never been. There are no bats this time of year but we thought just going would be neat.
Riding the 700 feet down in the elevator (the walk is too much for kids), I clutched my DSLR and hoped that I’d be able to figure out a way to take some shots that actually looked like the cavern. Not the cavern on flash steroids.
And then we discovered how very dark it was. I had no idea how to get a realistic looking picture, froze up, and used the flash to get extra light since my camera was making the angry noise when I tried it in the dark.
So I got some of this ultra lit mess:
So right around this time my eyes started bleeding – from seeing the crappy pictures on my screen and how very much they did not resemble the caverns. It looked like I was in some kind of brightly lit museum instead of 700 feet underground with minimal light.
I had no idea what would happen if I flipped it to manual and tried to take shots with just the light provided in the cave (which is the dark yellow you’re seeing in the pics) but I decided the worst thing was I’d get a couple of black shots. And then I’d simply use automatic again. And no one would ever know we were in a cave.
I’ve only been at manual for 2 weeks, so bear with me. They are slightly blurry because it shutter had to stay open so long and my hands could not be totally still. I used a really low shutter setting along with a super high ISO (either 3200 or 6400 depending on the shot) just to get the minimal light provided. I also got as close to the light as I could get.
We had fun that day – despite having to lug all our stuff through the cavern and nearly being dead from exhaustion by the time we were done. Bella passed out while I was buckling her into the car seat.
I was pretty happy I got some shots of what the caverns almost looked like, blurry or not. I just wanted to have the light placed there be the illumination instead of my horrid flash.
What thrilled me was knowing you can take shots in crappy lighting. I love night and evening shots, and while daylight is optimal, I wanted to learn how to get a decent picture in all types of lighting. And I’m starting to.
I’ve also learned I despise my flash. I’m sure there are uses for it, but I’m not a fan.
So what do you think? Any tips or tricks for getting great shots in crappy or less light?