Thursday, August 01, 2013

Lehman Cave, Great Basin National Park

"The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time." -Henry David Thoreau
Lehman Cave, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Lehman Caves is the first place in Great Basin National Park that we explored during our visit this summer. It is a beautiful marble cave decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and over 300 rare shield formations.

There are two types of tours offered to explore the cave, and we chose The Grand Palace Tour which runs for 90 minutes. The Grand Palace tour cost $10/person for adult, and $5/child (15 years or younger). The Grand Palace Tour travels 0.6 miles. This probably is the largest and most beautiful cave in the U.S. that I've explored so far. The path for visitors is very well maintained, allowing for a very easy walk that anyone 5 years or older could explore.

Below are some pictures of Lehman Caves, all pictures in this post taken by hubby.
 Various Formations Inside the Cave
 Parachute  Shield Formations
 Stalactites ( hanging), Stalagmites ( rises from the cave floor ), among other formations
 More Stalactites, Stalagmites and Helectites 
( helectite starts growth as stalactite, however, it seem to defy gravity by growing and curling in different directions from the vertical )
 Easy To Navigate Pathway Inside Cave
 ( though some trails are wet and slippery )
 More Stalactites and Stalagmites
More Flowstones and Stalagmites
 Straws, Drapes, Columns and more...
 Water Inside Cave

What is allowed inside the cave: jacket ( temperature is constant at 50F or 10C), a hand-held camera, and a flashlight into the cave.

What is not allowed inside the cave: food, water, other beverages, purses, backpacks, camera cases, tripod.

Now, let me share with you the story behind why all pictures above were of hubby. :(

Photographing the Cave Without a Tripod (tripod not allowed):

A day before we explored this cave, we hiked in "THE NARROWS" at Zion National Park. Because of threat of losing the camera to the river (or water ), I used my old camera, which is not as painful to lose. However, I forgot to put my newer camera in my backpack the next day, which was still in my luggage. I realized that when when I tried to adjust my ISO setting inside the cave. I could not make the ISO higher than 3200 (the higher the ISO, the more light the camera could capture). I looked at my camera, and realized it is my old one. :( Because of ISO limitations in my old camera, I knew I have to compensate for the very low light inside the cave using longer shutter speed (not very good without a tripod) and widest aperture opening. However, I know myself that I could not hold the camera steady for 1 second. I gambled with 0.5-0.8 seconds for my shutter speed (thinking that I could steady my hands in that fraction of time). To increase lighting, I used f/2.8 aperture, the widest my lens could get, and increased exposure to +0.7 so that I could get the most light at that maximum ISO I could work with. I thought it was working, because when I checked my camera's LCD, pictures seemed to be fine! I forgot that I was looking at small screen, not computer screen. To my horror, even at 0.5 second shutter speed, I still could not hold my camera steady enough. All my pictures are blurry when viewed in a larger screen. :(
My Camera Settings: shutter speed - 0.8 seconds, aperture- f/2.8, ISO- 3200, exposure bias: +.7
( my pictures have these quality, very blurry even at 0.5 seconds shutter speed.)

Now, let us compare my shot of the same cave formation, with that of hubby.
Hubby's Camera Settings: shutter speed - 0.125 (1/8) seconds, aperture- f/2.8, ISO- 12800, exposure bias: 0
Because hubby's camera can have ridiculously high ISO, he could use faster shutter speed. At faster shutter speed, we have less problems of handshake and other causes of body shakiness which cause the blurred images. Though at 0.125 seconds, we would still be prone for some body movement since it is very hard to steady ourselves without something to lean on when we shoot, but hubby practices yoga more than I do, thus he has more body balance than I do, haha! But anyhow, his 0.125 second is a lot faster than my 0.8 seconds. When avoiding camera shake at very low light, even just a fraction of seconds matters a lot. 

Though I agree that in most cases, it is to the eyes, heart and mind of photographer who shoots the scenery, but there are always instances that the eyes, heart and mind can only do so much and would need the technical capabilities of the camera and lens, such as shooting in very low light conditions, and shooting the MILKY WAY. Or shooting the fastest animal on land while running at his/her fastest, the CHEETAH, or the fastest animal on Earth while in flight, the PEREGRINE FALCON, and many more conditions. A lot of the time I shoot with my cell phone and happy with my images, but there are a lot of conditions I know my cell phone camera can only do so much. 

Anyway, thanks to hubby for all the pictures in this post, except the one blurry image I took which I showed for comparison to show about the technical aspects of photographing a dim cave without a tripod.

After exploring Lehman Cave, we went to explore the Alpine Lakes Loop trail in Great Basin National Park, which I will be sharing next. 
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  1. I love cave3s. I went in one cave in my life on a tour. I was a kid, so it was a very long time ago.

  2. this cave is absolutely stunning... i once went in a cave in Bohol, but the inside of the cave is was so tourist-harassed they even put manmade structures inside.. the water inside the cave is very clear though...

  3. Great photos from your caving, my hubby would love to visit this cave too. The shields are cool! Have a happy weekend!

  4. Oh, wow! That is one well-lighted cave.

  5. Another finest workers in stone is our imagination.

  6. Caves are amazing, I remember when I first came inside to one cave we visited in the Philippines, I was amazed. This is one beautiful cave!

  7. Fabulous photos! I bet it is even more dramatic in person. So crazy with all those piercing points.

  8. Wow, you're into spelunking too Betchai? This is awesome. I grew in the farm and there's this cave that also has this stalacs and stalags and during that time old folks in the barrio has nothing of this sense of preservation, they write names on the white miniraled wall with the guano on the ground and I did too myself, realizing today that what I was terribly bad, I really want to go back to that cave and erase my name. Gosh, I really want to slap my young, uneducated self.

    And yes, while most experts say composition is the key to coming up with a good piece, the technical aspect of taking a scenery is equally important to come up with a magnificent shot. I've appreciated the formations all the more with a clear shot. Dang, I have my dslr all along but really never cared at playing with the numbers on it, your post remind me to do it again :)

  9. oh wow what a beautiful marble cave! amazing formation! thank you for taking us to that national park. nalibot mo na ata lahat ng parks dyan ah! as usual great shots!

  10. Whoa! Grabe talaga! I can never comprehend how those formations look like those! I can only exclaim my awe in my Creator God! The cave is one of my most favorite place in the nature to check out. I hope to visit one pretty soon! :)

    Thanks for sharing this Ms. Betchai! Me and the husband enjoyed viewing your pics! :)

  11. Such amazing works of nature, Betch! Love Thoreau's quote and I definitely agree with him. The popcorn formation is cute. ;-) It's good that they have provided a pathway for the visitors' convenience.

  12. Wow. That's a beautiful sight. Wish I could get a chance to visit places like that :)

  13. So pretty I so love Nevada there so much to see in that place, people were just stock in Vegas Strip and not even realize there so much to see in this beautiful State other than gambling.

  14. As usual, you took awesome pictures...worthy to be on post cards!!!

  15. An awesome camera with high ISO! Impressive shots. Never been in a cave....

  16. oh, my! the wonders of the world are just pretty amazing. Those structures are insanely beautiful!

  17. Awesome cave's interior, as if isang auditorium for horror stage plays. Sana, one of these days, makapasok din ako sa cave. BTW, wala bang bats sa loob ng cave?

  18. I bet you had a grand time Betchai!!! the popcorn formations an the parachute formations are my favorites...I was going to ask why all the shots were of Khais and found the answer as I scrolled down :) thanks for the photography lessons here! Until now I still do not really know how to truly manipulate my dslr...too lazy to learn guilty here haha...P.S. trying to accomplish my three thesis proposals here while looking after Roel who has been confined due to his asthma...but missing the joys here oh so much that I took a peak and glad I did :)

  19. those are mind-boggling formations Beth! must be surreal being there and seeing it for yourself.

    will be off for a long weekend starting tomorrow. most likely i will be off from blogging too except when there's opp, hehe. will check fb in my phone too pag may time. planning to do fix and paint G's playroom, i hope magawa ko kasi G's so clingy to me nowadays. not that i'm complaining though. i enjoy every minute spent with the kids when i'm off from work. :)

    enjoy the rest of the week with KTL a.k.a the great photographer. ;)