Built between 1961 and 1964 and up until 1980 the tallest building in London weighing in at 189.0 metres (620.1 ft) makes it still a VERY neat place to visit. Another neat feature is the high speed lift which runs at 7 metres a second, getting you to the 34th Floor (Top of the Tower) in less than 30 seconds. To get that far you MUST have an invite, be on their security list, produce pukka Photo ID and go through airport type security, including walk through ‘Gatescan’ metal detectors, baggage X-Ray and Hand Held Weapons scanners……mind you none of these spotted my Polymer Koppo Stick, I’ve walked through airport security all over the world with this badboy, plus a few Crown Courts ;-p
Photography up there is a witch though as the outer section of the room is rotating relatively fast, sunlight is coming through from all angles and reflections from other panes of glass in the structure are damned hard to avoid (in fact I’ve binned 20 shots already)
I guess its as easy to lose 93 photo’s as it to lose one (and I’m still looking for my West Norwood Cemetery Catacombs shots from 3 years ago…one day they will show up on a backup drive I’d forgotten about…)
So, I stumbled across 93 pix I shot at Drakelow RGHQ 9.2 several years ago and thought I’d post up a very small selection here, mainly cos I thought I already had already blogged them.
They were all shot on the little Lumix T76 backup camera so are not that great but they still have an interest all the same.
2012 kind of sucked regarding exploring and ultimately was a disappointment….lots of doors where ‘shut’ in our faces thanks to the narcissistic actions of others (you know who you are, I know who some of you are….and really you SHOULD know better), locations sealed, locations burned…blah blah blah.
The year ended with an epic though, that I can’t talk about in public, so it wasn’t all bad. So while we were out yesterday walking off some of the Xmas Fat we decided the whole Carpe diem thing should apply this year……work hard at making opportunities, hit things fast instead of sitting on them (so they get discovered by others and burned…), well that’s the theory and it’s easy to be so full of enthusiasm in January LOL!
A few pix of the twin bores we visited, there’s another pair about 1.5 miles south that we also went to, (so ended up walking about 5 miles), nothing too exciting I know.
All shots handheld on the Lumix TZ6
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?
for scale, check out the car in lower centre!!
My trusty Panasonic Lumix TZ6 has produced every picture you can see on this blog, in fact i’ve taken over 10,000 shots with it, but it has limitations, in fact it has many pluses too such as its size and weight and the awesome Leica lens. However if I want to take better pictures then I need better toys so I dumped a bunch of stuff on eBay which paid for both of these guys. I’m still gonna keep the Lumix as its a great shooter but really want to start to sue these more.
Canon EOS 40D, bought in October last year from a friend and sat on a shelf gathering dust while I sold more stuff on eBay to pay for some quality glass. Two hours ago DHL showed up with the glass, an Ultra Wide Angle Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, all the way from Germany. This is where the fun starts as I have to learn how to use these guys properly…..
Not disclosing actual mine names as I believe these are sensitive locations and need preserving, also there are clear and present dangers to the casual observer, not least is the air quality in some of these mines. Human’s start going very twitchy at oxygen levels of 17% and 15% can kill you. If you wander into a heading with oxygen levels of 13% or less it is quite feasible the effect would be so rapid that you wouldn’t be able to help yourself and then its lights out….permanently. If this happens it would be sad for your family and would totally fuck things up access wise for everybody else.
I’ve been caving since the early 1990’s so being underground is nothing new. Low oxygen levels can kill you if you are not prepared…be warned.
Health & Safety lesson over, the following pictures were me messing around with long exposures and trying to perfect the art of Light Painting. Some obvious issues were encountered and lessons learned, one of which is that Xenon/Halogen light is quite bad for light painting but LED light used carefully is good, the other is that my current camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6 only has limited settings for long exposure, namely 15, 30 or 60 seconds. These pictures are either 15 or 30 seconds, ideally I would like the option of less than 15 seconds but ultimately that means buying a DSLR at some point.
Since this visit I have invested in another torch which should help with light painting, a LED Lenser P7 which has a one handed focusing mechanism so you can switch from spot to flood. Every underground location is different though and in many places the P7 would overcook the photos but in others it would work a treat.
All of these photo’s were lit with a combination of Petzl MYO XP (85 lumens) with diffuser, Underwater Kinetics Mini Q40 (50 lumens) and a Surefire Executive Defender (60 lumens)
Dead end in a heading, unusual in that the rails should have been removed when the mine closed!