Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

I've been fascinated with the mysterious underground world since I first visited caves in Japan in my childhood.  Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest cave system extends over 390 miles (630 km) of passageways and continues to grow with each newly-discovered section.
In mid-January, while taking a short break from the cold Alaskan winter, I flew to the Midwest for a mini vacation.  Finally, my childhood dream, exploring Mammoth Cave, came true.  Kentucky was also in the mid of winter as most trees had lost their leaves.  It rained both days while I was in the park, but I spent two days in the cave where the only water falling was tiny trickles in only a few areas of the cave. The temperature is a steady 54 degrees year round inside the cave.  The National Park Service offers several guided Cave Tours but self-guided is not an option. Cave visitors have to take one of the many guided tours to see the cave.
Photographing natural cave is challenging and must be done in low light conditions.  Time exposures are a must, however, neither tripods nor monopods are allowed to use in Mammoth Cave.  What a photograph   killer!  So I set up with high ISO, 6400 in order to get shots while handholding.  Using the handrails for support, image stabilization lens, and my steady hands, the shutter speeds were still very slow.  Plus being on a guided tour, I didn't have enough time to compose satisfactory images.
I joined 3 guided tours, and photographed as best as I could.  Many images are not as sharp for my standards...  but here are some images anyway.
 Natural Cave Entrance
Famous formation: Frozen Niagara
"Bacon" formation