Cell Phone Cave Photography

November 24, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Today was a lovely bioinventory caving day not far from where I live. Typical of my cave-prep, last night I got everything sorted and packed: making sure my helmet light was charged, putting together my collection kit, and of course getting a fresh SD card and battery into my cave camera. As they say though, the best laid plans of mice and bats...

Shortly after getting underground there were some wonderful Lampshade Spiders (Hypochilus). I love the way they flatten themselves on the wall of the cave, they are just unique & cool spiders in my opinion. So I got out my camera and turned it on, and it was struggling. How odd, as it worked perfect the night before. Soon it was flashing low battery warning, and then, dead battery. Not only did the power die, it died with the lens *extended*. Try as I might, I was unable to get it to retract.

Lucky for me, the walk to the cars is not far from this particular cave so I just ran back to at least make sure it stayed safe and I didn't break the protruding lens - which would not even fit in my pelican case anymore so it had zero protection. I recently got a new iPhone 12 mini, so knowing this cave and that I wouldn't be getting soaking wet and was unlikely to smash anything, I grabbed it and threw it in a spare ziplock I keep in my car. (See? I *am* really prepared!) (Although I suppose you could argue I should have a spare battery, but it doesn't fit in the case and usually the car is not so easy to get back to, hence checking religiously the night before.)

I got back and promptly took some photos of the spiders. It was difficult because of the lack of macro abilities to the level that would be best, but it worked and was something. 

Hypochilus - lampshade spider take 2Hypochilus - lampshade spider take 2

Continuing on with the trip I decided why not try to take some more 'real cave photography' photos. Stuck with a zebralight plus whatever ambient from other's headlamps - mind you this is a bio trip and not a stop-for-20-minutes-to-photo trip - I was not expecting much but thought maybe I could get something to put in my cave log book. I was pleasantly surprised!

Enjoy the following images, which, while not my "best work", I'm actually quite thrilled with the results for quickie-30-second-snaps with methods I have not used in ages, no tripod to properly light-paint, and a lil' cell phone. These are SOTCP (straight off the cell phone) because there really isn't much editing that can be done here, plus, I'm quite happy with them as they are!

Matt observing some Southern Cavefish:

Matt in RockhouseMatt in Rockhouse

Brendan, a new graduate student studying springtails, making his way through the passage:

Brendan in RockhouseBrendan in Rockhouse

Matt doing a quick pose in the second cave of the day - where he found a rat snake, and I found some pseudoscorpions!

Matt in Copperhead CaveMatt in Copperhead Cave


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