This was more of a camera/long exposure/torch experimentation than an explore but some of the pictures turned out half decent to I thought I would post up a quick report.
Old Warden Tunnel was built between 1853 and 1857 to connect Bedford to Hitchin, before joing the main line to London. It was closed in 1962 but not as a result of Dr. Richard Beeching’s ‘Beeching Bombshell’ report. The tunnel is straight and runs for 882 yards. The western end is half bricked up but with a large grille at the top to allow access for bats. I’m no bat expert but I have heard that a rare bat called the Barbastelle has been found in this tunnel from time to time. The eastern end has been partially backfilled and the trackbed at this end is flooded quite deeply. Internally there are some interesting Calcite formations on the walls and at the far end a small crystalline ‘Calcite Lake’ has formed.
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!