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Thailand's Toxic Caves
2,000 Parts: Approach to Blind Fish Cave

"We're gearing up at the entrance of Blind Fish Cave. Maria is starting to set up with her nasal cannula. Will's got his video gear out, and those are oxygen tanks at their feet. There are no vertical drops in this cave, so we don't have any ropes or other vertical gear.

"In Blind Fish, you're greeted in the first passage past the entrance by thousands of daddy long leg spiders. When our lights hit them, the spiders got very agitated and started to bounce—like a vibrating mass on the ceiling above you. A lot of times you find insects at cave entrances because they live on the surface and come to feed on bat guano (excrement)."

—Photographer Mark Cosslett

Photography Notes

  • Camera: Canon EOS-3
  • Film: Kodak 100 VS
  • Lens: 14 mm
  • Shutter speed: 1/15th
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Time of day: 9 a.m.

"This shows the essence of gearing up for the cave at the entrance—there's a good 15-30 minutes of gear shuffling involved while you convert from hiker to caver. It's quite a production.

"The headlamps are a kind of super high discharge headlight that has the same technology as a car headlight. The lights are powerful enough to illuminate the whole cave at once, not just ten square feet in front of you.

"Because I was shooting film and I knew I wasn't going to see any of my shots until I got back, we tested photographing the lights in a cave in Canmore [Alberta]. I wanted to see how they would indirectly light up a frame, but I also wanted to see how they would show up when pointed directly at the camera. I love the effect."


November 2003

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