You never know what assignments are going to land on your desk, sometimes photo shoots are booked weeks in advance and come with spreadsheets of shots required and a detailed brief. Other times, it's an email with a brief description of what's needed and a meeting point from where I have to be prepared for almost anything. I often travel light when it comes to photography kit, a Nikon 7200 body with a couple of lenses and speedlight stuffed into a tough Billingham bag and tripod balanced over my shoulder. It covers most eventualities, including unexpectedly going down a mine. I had thought it was mostly going to be exterior shots of South Crofty mine at Pool, but it turned out to be a trip underground as well, which was all kinds of fascinating.
Once we'd been kitted out with our protective safety gear, we trundled down the mine in a clattery landrover, after about 800ft, we got out and continued on foot. Clearly, one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to taking photos down the mine is the complete absence of any natural light. This, along with tricky conditions underfoot and water dripping from above made for interesting shooting conditions. Setting up long exposure shots on the tripod and then illuminating the various compositions with a headtorch worked surprisingly well. Focusing took consideration, mostly because I could barely see anything through the viewfinder! But after a little trial and error with shutter speeds, I managed to come away with a handful of shots.
With thanks to South Crofty Mine and Cornwall Trade & Investment for this assignment, it's an experience that will stay with me for a while.
Above: South Crofty Mine at Pool.
Above: Heading to the mine entrance in the old Landy.
Above: The tunnel that leads down into the mine itself.
Above: The ventilation system way below ground.