I have photographed 9 caves and cave photography is always fun and challenging. I do not use flash very often. All of the photographs within my cave galleries were taken without flash. 

My cave photography requires the following: a tripod, camera, cable shutter release, patience and the willingness to learn. 

A tripod is very important when taking photos especially when not using a flash. When a tripod is not allowed then I can only take photos of brighter areas with a very steady hand. I often set my exposure to the desired f/stop then bump it to a wider f/stop so that I can get an exposure of at least 1/60. At this f/stop a steady hand will give a fair photograph. If you can't get your exposure of at least 1/60 then the photo will have too much shake to it. Sometimes handrails can be used to steady you enough to get a photograph below 1/60, but handrails are round so you have to have a steady hand.

Choose a camera that has a timer to trip the button or takes a cable shutter release. These are low light conditions and you want NO CAMERA SHAKE. Pushing the button to take the picture maybe just enough camera shake to mess up your photos. I use a Minolta X700 and usually use one of the following lenses: 50mm f/1.7, 28mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8.

All the caves, except one, are guided tours. Some tour guides move really fast. The tour guide we had in Sonora for example was a high school student and he got out of breath because he was going to fast. He caught up with the group that left 30 minutes ahead of us and we had to wait. The guide in Innerspace waited patiently for each room to be fully enjoyed. You never know what kind of tour guide your going to get. One must stay with the group as they turn lights off in the cave as they pass sections that have been viewed. This is important as algae will grow on the formations. So keep this in mind while preparing to photograph a cave. 

On many occasions I've used a light blue Cokin filter to counteract the orange glow that most cave lights put off. The photographs to the right show the difference between a regular photo without the filter and then with the filter. 

The following is a list of caves that I have visited. Special notes to photographers on these caves are beside each name. Click on the name to see my photographs from this cave and more details in the tour and sights.


Natural Bridge Caverns without blue filter


Carlsbad Caverns with  blue filter

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico- Tripod allowed. Self guided tours allow plenty of time to enjoy the cave and take some great photographs. Many possibilities for photography are in this cave, from large rooms to delicate close-ups. Many cave formations exist in this cave: soda straws, helictites, pop-corn, pools, draperies, cave bacon, stalactites and stalagmites. 

Sonora Caverns, Texas- No tripod allowed and no backpacks or bags. Some of the route does get a little tight. They are willing to work with photographers though at a special fee around $100. This cave is a treasure trough of cave decorations. I would love to get in with a tripod. Still you as you will see on my Sonora Caverns page I still got some good photographs despite the lack of a tripod. This tour is guided so you don't have a lot of time to compose a shot. Many cave formations exist in this cave: soda straws, helictites, pop-corn, pools, draperies, stalactites and stalagmites. This cave is very well known for highly decorated rooms and many of the unusual helictites are viewed.

InnerSpace Caverns, Texas- Small tripods are allowed in the cave. This is a guided tour though so you have to work fast. There are many decorated rooms and some hidden treasures as well. Many cave formations exist in this cave: soda straws, pools, draperies, cave bacon, stalactites and stalagmites. This cave has the largest amount of soda straws that I've seen in a cave. 

Cascade Caverns, Texas- Small tripods are allowed in the cave. This is a guided tour though so you have to work fast. There are some muddy spots in this cave so be careful not to fall and damage that camera:) A light blue filter is very helpful here. Many cave formations exist in this cave: soda straws, pools, draperies, cave bacon, stalactites and stalagmites. This cave has a waterfall during wet periods and a large pool at the end of the tour. One interesting feature of this cave is the Diamond Ceiling that one must duck and walk under.

Longhorn Caverns, Texas- Tripods are not allowed in this cave. This is a guided tour cave as well. Many cave formations exist in this cave: Calcite deposits, Flint nodules, stalactites and stalagmites. This cave is a dry cave for the most part. The majority of the cave is composed of slick carved walls from water passing through many years ago. 

Cave Without a Name, Texas- I'm unsure about whether a tripod is allowed, but they are very nice and would probably not mind a small tripod. Know this though there is a descent of 126 steps into the cave and you must exit the same way...don't bring heavy equipment. This is a small cave but has some charming aspects to it. Many cave formations exist in this cave: soda straws, helictites, pop-corn, pools, draperies, cave bacon, stalactites and stalagmites. The Grapes are a rare formation that exists in this cave and is seen at the beginning of the tour. 

Natural Bridge Caverns, Texas- A tripod is allowed in this cave. This is a guided tour. Many cave formations exist in this cave: soda straws, pop-corn, pools, draperies, cave bacon, stalactites and stalagmites. 

Wonder World Cave, Texas-They didn't object to me having a small tripod. This cave is more of a crack in the earth than anything else. This was supposedly formed when there was an earthquake in the area. This is a very small dry cave. There is not much room for photography on tripods. The owners use a wide variety of colored lights in this cave. Special formations of note are the fossil bearing ceilings and being able to see the Balcones Fault from underneath. 

Ice Caves, New Mexico- This cave is a lava tube that collapsed. The ice age filled the cave with ice. The cave acts like a refrigerator and never gets above 31 F degrees in the cave. This is not something you walk into. It has a small deck just under the lip of the lava tube that allows one to see the ice. Tripods are allowed and this cave is surrounded by miles of black basalt. 

IF you have any questions or comments feel free to email me. 


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