How do you photograph in really challenging conditions? It’s a good question. I recently visited Capricorn Cave just outside of Rockhampton, Queensland (Australia). It was certainly challenging. Heading into the caves, we had bright midday sunlight, and pockets of it through the caves. In the caves, we could photograph, but not use flashes! So what did I do?
When you’re dealing with bright brights and dark darks, bracketing can be your answer. It’s still challenging and you can’t always get everything perfect. Well, I sure didn’t. But it did allow me to save a few images.
It was so dark in some spots, with no flash and no tripods allowed. Well, you can only try, right? I was shooting as high as ISO12,800 — never shot so high in all my life. Were the images usable? Well, once I ran it through Denoise in Lightroom or Topaz Denoise AI, they were usable as holiday snapshots. Will I be winning any Nat Geo awards? Highly doubtful. But then I am not really a landscape photographer and I don’t think my images would rate in that category anyway. Sure, high ISO will add lots of noise, but there are Denoising programs (Lightroom Classic and Topaz Denoise AI) that can help counteract that these days. Lack of contrast? That can also be fixed in post. Then when all else fails, a nice B&W can fix some wild color aberrations sometimes.
Did I get it right?
Most of the time, probably not. So why am I even writing this post? Or even sharing my images? I thought some of you might find it interesting how I attempted to capture this amazingly stunning location. I am not a landscape photographer. I had minimal time to capture anything and figured I’d just shoot in Aperture Priority. I was shooting with a wide-angle lens to let in as much ambient light as I could, and let the ISO blow out as much as it needed to. I just tried to keep my shutter speed above 1/80 second to avoid blurring the photos.
This is also another good point. And many of you may be saying the photos are pretty crap (well they probably are), but for me, it was a very challenging situation and I actually thought they weren’t too bad. I like to push my creative envelope and this was one of those times I could embrace the situation and learn from it … or pack the camera away and just enjoy nature (also not a bad idea). I chose to do both. You don’t always have to be perfect. I guess that was my takeaway from this, embrace the imperfection. Sometimes, it’s good to cut loose and have fun.