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Carlsbad Caverns National Park | Cave Photography Workshop

Join photographer Peter Jones for the opportunity of a lifetime: a photography workshop at Carlsbad Caverns!

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Thursday, May 3–Saturday, May 5, 2018 | 8 AM–5 PM each day

Join cave photographer Peter Jones on a three-day cave photography workshop at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This is an opportunity to hone your photography skills and learn the art of cave photography by working with professional cave photographer, Peter Jones. You will be able to take your own images inside the cave, given more time to search for and take, the right image for you.

Access to closed areas (King’s Palace, not open to the general public except by special tour. This is included in workshop) of the cavern and the opportunity to photograph some of the most magnificent and popular formations within Carlsbad Caverns. Classroom time to see a demonstration of blending together multiple exposure images into a single composite image.

The last day to register is May 1.



Thursday, May 3

  • Pay entrance fee at park desk. Ticket is good for three days. S12.00 per person. Park passes accepted.
  • Proceed to park theater room for one-hour pre-cave entry presentation. MANDATORY for all participants.
  • As a group, head into cave via natural entrance.

Friday, May 4

  • Meet in theater room for half an hour then head into cave.

Saturday, May 5

  • Saturday in park theater room to go over editing & blending of multiple photos into a single composite image. Two options for this day: Learning to edit or going back, individually, in the cave for more photos. Instructor would be working with the editing group.

Instruction: 8 hours of instruction per day with Saturday option of editing class or returning to the cave to take more photos.

Food: Restaurant in the cave or upstairs in Visitor Center. No outside food allowed. Only water in cave.

Lodging: On your own

Travel: On your own

Fee: $400 (Does not include park entrance fee.)

For more information: Call (575) 785-1085

Register: To participate, use the registration form on this page.

About the workshop

While everyone is invited to participate at their own choice, there are equipment needs and skills which you should have due to the complexity of cave photography.

You will need to have a camera with full controls of the aperture and shutter speeds. In general, this is a digital single lens reflex camera, although point and shoot or mirrorless cameras can be used, provided they have full and independent manual controls. A good, stable tripod is also a necessity. The reason behind this is that we will be shooting using three types of lighting: the new in-cave LED lighting system, natural sunlight and flash photography. Most of the photography will be using the LED lights and requires multiple exposures at different shutter speeds to capture the full dynamic range of lighting. As such, the tripod should be solidly built and not move between image captures. The same applies to natural sunlight images which will be taken at the Natural Entrance to Carlsbad Cavern. The flash photography is less difficult and will be set up by your instructor, but still should be taken on a tripod.

A variable focal length lens is strongly suggested (such as a 24 – 70 mm lens). We will be restricted to shooting from the trails only and you will find that being able to adjust the span of the image is far better with a variable than a fixed focal length lens.

Because of the multiple digital exposures, the images must be post-processed on your computer. They can be blended as HDR (high dynamic range) images or be aligned and masked to select the best blending options. Both methods will be illustrated during the class. As such, a good image processing app is strongly recommended. Adobe Photoshop Elements is a good, low cost app, although the full Adobe Photoshop software has a far more useful set of tools to work with. We will be spending the third day of the workshop doing post-production to help you bring out the images you take on the first two days. For the advanced photographer, we will be using Luminosity Masking as created by Tony Kuyper. For details on that software, go to http://goodlight.us/index.html. Note that free copies of TK software are available for both Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop.

For photography-specific information about the workshop, you may contact Peter Jones at pjcaver@gwi.net.

About Peter Jones

Peter Jones has been a cave photographer in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico for 49 years. His first trip to the wild caves of “The Guads” in 1969 convinced him that he would be caving there for the rest of his life. On a summer expedition that same year, he brought a camera with him and realized that he didn’t have a clue how to take photographs underground. Through trials and lots of errors, his work slowly improved over time. With the excavation opening of Lechuguilla Cave in 1986, the bar was raised considerably and his work further improved. In 1992, he participated in the National Geographic filming in Lechuguilla Cave as film crew member and still photographer for “Mysteries Underground”.

Five years later, he again participated in the NOVA filming in “Lech” with the added job of being Logistics Coordinator as well as photographer. In 2003 at the start of a Lechuguilla Cave exploration and survey project, he was offered the job of photographing throughout Carlsbad Cavern to update the Park’s Public Domain Photo Gallery for the first time in 45 years. Since then, he has taught eight cave photography workshops at the Park and during many annual conventions of the National Speleological Society (NSS), the world’s largest caving organization.

Exhibits of his photography include:
Department of Interior Museum, Washington DC: 1995
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM: 1996 – current
Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, Carlsbad, NM: numerous exhibits
American Cave Museum, Cave City, KY
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC: 2002, 2016
Published in Carlsbad Caverns: The Story Behind the Scenery: 2006
Numerous Awards in the Photo Salons of the NSS: 1970 – current
The Best: the two McDonald’s in the city of Carlsbad……: current

Peter lives in Camden, Maine with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Aspen. He has been a potter for 47 years in addition to his caving exploits.


Event Category:

Event Tags: #CAVEphotoworkshop2018

Thursday, May 3
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Carlsbad Caverns National park
727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220 United States
+ Google Map
(575) 785-1085

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