Sunday 20 December 2015

A Light Caving Trip in OFD Top Entrance

With the poor weather set to continue we decided that we would have a play with lighting techniques and practice setting up shots in a suitable location. Top Entrance to OFD provided a suitably dry location with the added bonus of several drippy inlets flowing quite nicely to add some atmosphere to the shots. During our six hours underground we were never more than 200 metres from the entrance. The aim of the day was to test out new flashguns, radio triggers, infra red triggers, light output of flashguns verses different types of flashbulbs and also to try out some experimental shots. With a dry location we could practice techniques that we would not otherwise risk on long trips in difficult locations. Some of our output is shown in the gallery below.

Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole
Cascades lit by light painting - Photo Mark Burkey

Cascade lit by Flashbulbs
Cascade lit by Flashbulbs - Photo Brendan Marris

Inside Top Entrance - lit with flashguns
Inside Top Entrance - lit with flashguns - Photo Mark Burkey

Cascade lit by Flashguns
Cascade lit by Flashguns - Photo Brendan Marris

Cascade lit by Flashbulb
Cascade lit by Flashbulb - Photo Brendan Marris

Cascade lit by light painting - Photo Brendan Marris

In conclusion Mark's new flashgun the Yongnuo YN560-III is a little more powerful than the Vivitar 285s. It has the benefit of much lower power output and although the infra red slave has poor range, the radio slave easily works underground for the quoted 100 metres in a straight line, although does not work far round corners.
Bulbs were giving much better results than flashguns when shooting falling water, and the much higher power output and all round soft light making them great for use in larger chambers and passage. The AG1B bulbs easily giving four times the light output from a Vivitar 285 with the M3B bulbs giving twice that of the AG1Bs.
Light painting was a revelation too and will come into play in suitable locations. Colour balance from the LED lights is a challenge as is the need for the camera to be tripod mounted and having people keep still in the shots.
We will continue to experiment and work to blend different lighting types in the same shots to enhance the overall lighting.

Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 19 December 2015

Poles apart in Cwm Dwr

We’ve often mentioned visiting the short passage above Piccadilly waterfall and so decided that would be our main objective for Saturday.

 After much tea drinking and procrastinating we eventually made our way in a rather wet Cwm Dwr entrance series.

 Our plan was to use the Upper Piccadilly maypole to access the inlet. This proved to be a lot heavier than it looked. After attaching a ladder and line it took three of us to move it in to position.

 I climbed first, soaked and blinded by the water as I ascended.

 The pole only just reached the sloping muddy ledge and getting off at the top was one of the scarier experiences of my caving career. The water and slippery mud offered no assistance at all, I lunged on to the slope and as I did so the pole began to slide. With all the grace of an elephant I managed to pull myself to safety and heave a sigh of relief.

 After looking around the rather splendid passage it was obvious there was nothing to belay from and so as Loz and Jess made their way up I held the top of the Maypole to steady it. Neither of them was able to get off the ladder under their own steam and required me to drag them up the slope to safety.

 We switched the belay to the top of the pitch and Brendan climbed through the water to the top. Unfortunately at over 6ft I couldn’t man handle him off the maypole the way I had with the girls and after a couple of attempts he unfortunately lost strength and had to concede defeat.

 With the climb down playing on our minds we took some of photographs of the short passageway before attempting our descent.

A nervous and uncharacteristically quiet Loz went first. It took all my strength to keep the top of the maypole steady as she swung on to the ladder, but as soon as she did the pole steadied.
A rather tearful Jess repeated the procedure and again it was quite strenuous to ensure the maypole stayed in position.
For my descent I attached a guide rope to the pole so Brendan and Jess could hold it steady whilst Loz belayed me.
The whole thing went swimmingly and I didn’t die or Naffing!

With much relief we spent a little time photographing the waterfall using flash bulbs before going off to explore some of the lesser visited passage behind the skyhook pitch before heading out for a well earned meal.

 A Fantastic finish to 2015 and already I’m looking forward to the adventures 2016 has in store!

Piccadilly Inlet (Photo Mark Burkey)

Passage near 'The Smithy' (Photo Mark Burkey)

Passage near 'The Smithy' (Photo Brendan Marris)

Piccadilly Waterfall, lit with flash bulb (Photo Brendan Marris)

Present: Brendan, Loz, Mark & Jess

Saturday 12 December 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas......Pot

Having led an SWCC trip in to Daren Cilau last month, a few of us were invited to Yorkshire for the weekend for a little SRT adventure.

Waking to find a good deal of snowfall Saturday morning we headed off toward Clapham full of Christmas Cheer. Derek led us straight to the entrance where Duncan elected to practice his rigging. As Duncan hasn’t had a lot of experience with rigging this took a little time. Jess, then Brendan, then myself sat waiting patiently as Derek oversaw Duncan’s rigging, but progress was slow. To take our minds off the icy dripping water Jess and I sang Christmas Carols,…..though not the same ones and not at the same time…much to Brendan’s chagrin (he said it was like being stuck in a horrific shopping centre at Christmas with no way out)

 After a while we heard Duncan on the bottom of the pitch shout up to say he had reached the end of the rope. We then heard Derek shout back ‘that was great.’ To which Duncan replied,” No, I’ve reached the knot in the end of the rope but I’m still 2 meters from the floor!” After prussiking back up and re-arranging the rigging we were finally able to join the other two at the bottom of the pitch.

We then reached an interesting array of obstacles, crawling over, under, and through boulders with SRT kit snagging everywhere to the head of the 2nd pitch which proved to be a snug and awkward take off.

After going to take a look at the 3rd pitch down to meet the stream from Grange Rigg we decided that water levels weren’t looking good and so retreated to take a couple of photos of the formations before heading back out.

We had only been photographing about half an hour, but the water cascading in had changed dramatically, and what had been only damp pitches on the way in were now in full flow. Quickly we retreated up the rope with Derek de-rigging as we went. We finally emerged to find that a lot of the snow had melted and a stream was now entering.

On the walk back down to the car park we were amazed at how Clapham Beck had turned in to a full on white water torrent in the time we had been underground.

A most excellent Christmas adventure with Snow, Carol Singing and laughs, what more could you ask for!

A Wintery Start To The Weekend
Duncan admiring formations below the 2nd pitch
Derek at the formations below the 2nd pitch

Present: Mark, Jess, Brendan & our hosts Duncan and Derek

Thursday 10 December 2015

Dudley ate all the pie's! Christmas at the pie factory.

This year our annual Christmas meal was held at The Pie Factory with 16 members in attendance.

Mark, Jess, Mike, Lucy, Brendan, Graham, John, Emma, Mike, Paulina, Bartek, Ian, Rich, Sharon, Amy, Andy, Chloe and Mark B..U..R..G