Challenge #36: A Glow In The Dark Experience

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This challenge is a bit upside-down because when we set out today we weren’t entirely sure what we were going to end up doing.

We found ourselves at Cheddar Gorge. The original plan had just been to pop down there for an ice cream and a potter about, but Little Whirlwind expressed an interest in exploring the caves.

Plus it was the last weekend of the Glow In The Dark Easter Egg Hunt.

And who can resist a glow in the dark Easter Egg hunt around a large network of caves?!

So I formulated my plan to test my camera and my skills to their limits by photographing without a tripod in very low level light as we were queuing up to buy the tickets.

Challenge #36 was all about capturing the magic of Cheddar Gorge caves, with no flash or tripod. 

Techie Details:
Camera: Canon 5D Mk III
Lens: 24-70mm f2.8


The biggest challenge here was with the colour of the light. It’s easy for our brains to be tricked into thinking it’s darker than it really is (especially where red light is concerned).

The look of wonder on Little Whirlwind’s face made it all worthwhile! He loved the whole experience (and even stayed still long enough for me to get a photo of him with my shutter speed down at 1/80 sec!!!)

Unbelievably, despite the dimness of the caves, I found quite a few of my photos had patches that were over-exposed (particularly around the sources of light and the reflections), and photographing the glowing Easter Eggs proved to be tricky too.

The lighting here was very, very red. Even in the original photo you can’t see much detail – until I switched it to black and white! Ah, the magic of colour and lighting!


I kept the shutter speed right down (around 1/80 which is the lowest I’ll ever go hand-held), with an aperture of f2.8 (the most wide open this lens will go). My ISO ranged from ISO 500 (to get the detail of the glowing eggs) up to a whopping ISO 25600 in the darkest part of the cave.

On the whole I’m pleased with my results.  But there is something I’d do differently if I were to photograph here again: Although it’s important to get the exposure correct in camera in low-light situations, so next time I’d underexpose slightly.

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