In Your Tubes – La Cueva de los verdes, Haría

November 30, 2011 | Posted in Caves, Lava Tube, Lavacicles, Long Exposure, Lumix TZ6, Manrique, Soto, Spain, Volcano | By

There’s only one thing worse than Group Visits and that’s Tourist Trips but I took this one to try and get just one shot.

I got the shot but screwed it up, read on for the story…

The La Cueva de los verdes, Isla de Lanzarote, Haría, Spain is part of a 3.79 mile Lava Tube formed by the eruption of nearby Volcán de la Corona (Volcano of the Crown) and is the 16th longest in the world (the longest being in Kazumura Cave in Hawaii at 40.7 miles). Unfortunately we do not have Lava Tubes here in the UK but we do have Phreatic Tubes which are just as large.

Lava tubes are formed by low viscosity lava cooling in layers making a ‘crust’ above a hotter, faster flowing lava stream below which, in this case flowed out to the Atlantic Ocean forming the Malpais de La Corona and leaving behind an empty tube. What makes La Cueva de los verdes slightly more interesting is that there are in fact three lava tubes stacked on top of each other and in places when on the upper levels you can see right down to the lower tube. In the 17th/18th Century La Cueva de los verdes was allegedly used by the Majoreros to hide from slave ships and pirates.

Also in the vicinity is Jameos del Agua which is part of the same lava tube but with a collapsed roof. It’s been turned into a mega tourist attraction by Jesús Rafael Soto from an idea by César Manrique and despite visiting and taking some shots I won’t insult you all by posting on this blog……just Google it if you are curious!!

All pictures shot on a Panasonic Lumix TZ6 with no tripod as I could not be bothered to take my Canon on the plane so they aren’t great. I also only had once chance at the ‘money shot’ (which I screwed up by overcooking it) as I was being hurried out of the cave by a tour guide (no, going back later after dark to help myself was not an option!!), this shot was done by balancing the camera on a rock and taking a long exposure. The ‘illusion’ is created by a shallow pool of water in the foreground of the shot giving the impression of a gaping chasm in the floor, made even more ‘scary’ by there only being knee high rocks ‘protecting’ you from the (non existant) fall !!!

If you want to know how good this shot could have looked then check out this which I could have easily matched with the Canon/Tokina……bummer eh?

Sharks Tooth Lavacicles – Formed by dripping, cooling Lava
‘That shot’ – Bummer !!
Not La Volcán de la Corona but another volcano in the south…
for scale, check out the car in lower centre!!

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Magician in the Mountain

November 14, 2011 | Posted in 17th Reconnaissance Wing, Alconbury, Area 51, Avionics, Building 210, Bunker, Cold War, Lockheed, Magic Mountain, Nuclear, Skunkworks, Spy plane, USAAF Station 102 | By

Ok, long overdue, some full on Cold War action for you…

In the 1950’s Skunkworks (Lockheed Advanced Development Projects) created a single engined, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft to be used in the Cold War to help determine Soviet capabilities and intentions. Elements of previous Lockheed designs such as the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter were incorporated to build what became the Lockheed U-2 Spy Plane (and later the TR-1). The first live flight was in August 1955 at Area 51 in Nevada and soon a variety of intelligences packages were developed for use with the plane that could be switched around depending on the mission (Interchangeable nose sections were fitted with large format cameras, radar and other cutting edge surveillance equipment). They flew so high that the pilot had to wear a space suit and breath bottled oxygen.

When the USAAF 17th Reconnaissance Wing was activated the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron was formed at RAF Alconbury bringing with them a fleet of TR-1 Spy planes. Building 210 was the Avionics and Photography Interpretation Centre for the TR-1/U2 Spy plane taking two years to build at a cost of $39 million and was later given the nickname Magic Mountain. The building was linked to various other US bases and also to the Strategic Air Command in Omaha, Nebraska.

Inside the stainless steel lined entrance corridor are a series of large rooms with raised access flooring for computer cabling. Building 210 has its own power plant, closed air conditioning, decontamination chambers, water supply and sewage systems. A Positive Air Pressure system was used to prevent any fallout or poisonous gas getting inside the facility. The bunker is on two floors and built of steel and reinforced concrete, sitting on a bed of gravel and giant ‘spring coils’ allowing the structure to shift during an attack and absorbing the impact. Allegedly it could withstand a direct hit from a nuclear bomb.

The political situation changed in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and within six months of opening Magic Mountain was obsolete. By July 1991 the USAAF 17th Reconnaissance Wing was deactivated and by 1993 the entire base was handed back to the MoD.

On this visit I could not gain access to the subterranean bunker itself so you will have to make do with the few photo’s I could get, I will however be going back so watch this space…

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Quark, Strangeness And Charm

November 1, 2011 | Posted in 4Sevens, CR123A, David Chow, flashlights, Quark RGB, torch | By

As mentioned on this blog previously I am a self confessed ‘flashlight whore’. I’ve not done an audit for a long time and I don’t really care to either as I may even shock myself, lets just say I most likely own too many flashlights…

Doing lots of underground shots presents its own lighting problems, one of which is colour temperature. These new fangled LED’s although wonderfully bright seem to produce a very blue beam which tends to make the pictures suck. This issue gets further compounded when I use two or more different lights to paint a shot as you end up with differing ‘blueness’. Of course this all gets fixed later in post as I have to even up the Colour Temperature but what if you could get a flashlight with a ‘neutral’ temperature…?

The theory was to try something from the wonderful people at 4Sevens as they are a company started and run by a self confessed Flashaholic called David Chow who produced a Limited Edition run of Cool, Warm and Neutral temperature lights. Most of these are now discontinued but luckily I managed to pick up a 4Sevens Quark RGB Neutral White from Led Fire Torches.

The 4Sevens Quark RGB Neutral White also has another neat feature (the clue is in the name!!) and that’s a quad die emitter so it has a different colour in each corner (white, red, green, and blue) so I get to kill two birds with one stone:

A) Have a nice neutral light to paint with underground.
B) Try some Troy Paiva type stuff using the coloured die.

Quark RGB Neutral White specs:

Length: 4.8 in
Diameter: 0.86 in
Weight: 1.8 oz (without batteries)
Finish: Type-III hard-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
Batteries: 2 CR123A

(All lumen outputs are COOL WHITE, Out-the-front)

    * Moonlight: 0.4 lm, 650 hours, 1 ma
    * Low: 2.8 lm, 130 hours, 10 ma
    * Med: 15.0 lm, 25 hours, 50 ma
    * High: 58.4 lm, 7.5 hours, 250 ma
    * Turbo: 150 lm, 2 hours, 700 ma
    * SOS: 22.5 hours
    * Strobe: 4 hours
    * Beacon: 20 hours

From 4Sevens:

The Quark RGB features a CREE MCE-RGB emitter. The MCE-RGB is a quad-die emitter that features a different color for each corner of the die: white, red, green, and blue!

The Quark RGB UI is unique. When the head is tightened, it is always white (or neutral white depending on your model). When the head is loosened, it is one of the RGB colors. Cycling between loose and tight will toggle through the three colors.

The way to change modes is similar to the regular Quarks. Just tap the tail button to change modes (or just turn it on and off within 3-4 seconds). It will toggle between eight modes: moonlight -> low -> medium -> high -> max -> S.O.S -> strobe -> beacon.

Additionally, it will remember the last mode used even after you turn off the flashlight. It will also remember which mode you used in both the tightened and loosened state as well as which color was used in the loosened mode.

As soon as I get the chance I will be out testing this new toy 🙂

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