Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico: The Big Room, by Robert Arrington
Ansel Adams once remarked that Carlsbad Caverns was the most difficult place he ever photographed, owing to the fact that in their natural state, the caverns exist in absolute darkness and are visible only by means of artificial lighting. Try to imagine the early explorers stumbling upon the caves and descending hundreds of feet below by way of a wooden ladder and a wax candle as their only source of light.
This is an HDR photograph of several magnificent limestone cavern formations in the Big Room. At nearly 4000 feet long, this is the largest cavern chamber in Carlsbad Caverns and the 7th largest in the world.
Photographing the Caverns is a challenge and for several years I attempted to capture photos here but was unsuccessful due to several reasons. First because of the low lighting it is very difficult to get sharp photos without a tripod or a very high ISO. High ISOs create camera noise so it is not the ideal way to shoot here. A tripod, in my opinion is essential. A few years back I brought my camera tripod to the caverns and descended the cave through the natural entrance. I shot hours of images and almost all of them were still blurry. This was due to a factor I had not anticipated- the stomp of tourists. The caverns are built on limestone and as a result any traffic from other people causes the narrow footpath to shake like a small tremor. Couple that with the long exposure times needed for each shot and the end result was frustration.
So in 2011 I arrived at the Caverns at the beginning of the day and instead of walking down via the Natural Entrance, I took the first elevator down to the Big Room. Because almost everyone else was descending through the Natural Entrance, I had the entire Big Room to myself for about an hour. This photograph here is one of my more successful images.