A Weekend at Mammoth Cave

So I happen to live somewhat near the world’s longest known cave system, Mammoth Cave (about 1 1/2 hours away) and they have a lot of different attractions that you can go enjoy while there.  I have never been horseback riding, and never been in a cave, two things I wanted to do, and my wife decided was very un-Kentuckian.  So off we went to indulge our Cave City sides and enjoy a few pieces of Mammoth Cave’s ecosystem and tourism market.

The first thing we were blessed enough to do was go horseback riding.  While I did take pictures while on horseback, it really wasn’t that great of a picture taking experience.  My horse was supposedly “spirited” as far as trail horses go, which is to say, just enough orneriness to make it hard to take a lens cap off a camera and take a picture while holding the reigns.  I did fine, I have pictures, but they just don’t fit in with what I want on the blog, so I’ll throw in the vacation photo of my wife and I on our horses at the end of the trail, and move on to photos I like.

Here are my Wife and I at the end of our trail on our respective horses, Maggie for her and Misty for me

From this point, we had access to walk around and see the sights.  It was a cute little establishment, but I did run across two horses eating and managed to snap some pictures that I was happy with.  The first one I will show is of the horse eating some sparse grass.

Horse eating some sparse grass

After that, I also caught this same horse not eating.  I wasn’t very patient, and I really wanted to get a picture that didn’t have the fence in it, and the horse’s head up without telephone poles and things of that nature.  Apparently horses aren’t mind readers (or actively didn’t want to give me what I wanted), and didn’t take my hints, so when I finally got 1 shot I just called it a day on that desire.

I then took that shot and did some major editing.  I like the result, I’m sure some won’t and some will, but this is my first attempt at isolating the subject matter post-photo, and I think it turned out pretty decent.  I’m sure there are areas that I missed to some extent, but I’ll stay happy with this one.

He Finally Lifted His Head for my Photograph

And zooming in on the photo, I see a few small spots I missed, but I’m not going to change it at this point. 😛

After our adventure riding horses, we went for a cave tour in Mammoth Cave itself.

The major downside of Mammoth Cave, they don’t allow you to use tripods (I found out after my first use) because they slow down the tour.  So I got one shot by tripod, and any other shots I got from bracing the camera on a railing to hold steady.

I don’t have a great lens for low light shooting, so I was taking multi-second exposures.  Tough by hand.  Here is the shot with the tripod.

The Ceiling in Mammoth Cave

I actually got all 5 of the exposures necessary for an HDR image, but honestly, I like the main one better than the results of an HDR image so here it is.  They had very faint lights spaced throughout the cave, so you would only get whatever the light was highlighting, and you couldn’t take pictures of things it didn’t highlight, because there wasn’t enough light for the camera to focus.

It was kind of rough.  

My second image is from what they called the “Bottomless Pit” in reality it’s about 120 ft deep, but in that light, it pretty much looks bottomless.  My exposure actually shows more than you could see while there.

The Bottomless Pit in Mammoth Cave

As we left, I was finally allowed to set up my tripod at the entrance.  Luckily, the entrance is a pretty interesting spot considering the small trickle of water, the lush greenery, and the main cave entrance.  I took 5 exposure at 1 step and built out an HDR image of the exit to Mammoth Cave.  I almost wish the nice stairs that they put in for tourism weren’t there, but then again, they did make entering and exiting a lot easier.

Here’s the HDR image of the exit to Mammoth Cave.

HDR of the Exit to Mammoth Cave

Like I said, I love the lighting, I love the picture and the colors, I just wish that sign and stairs weren’t there, but cropping them out just didn’t look right to me.  I may try it out anyway though.

As we left the cave we came across a random forest fairy hiding in the bushes.

Forest Fairy

I don’t think that she was too excited about being seen and caught on camera.  Look at that face!

Also on our way back out, we came across an area with some small white flowers that I just really liked.  I don’t know what kind they were, but I thought I’d share the macro images I took of them anyway.

Which one do you all like best?  For me, I think I like #2 because I like the faint bokeh on the back flowers.  But that’s personal opinion.  I wish I had like a portrait lens to take that picture with, the isolation would have been great.

Finally, on our way out of the park, we came across a group of deer, there were 4 deer and a baby deer (foal?) and so I stopped to take pictures.  I kid you not, I got within 10 feet of one of the beautiful creatures.  I guess with that much tourism, they aren’t as skittish around people.

Here’s the only shy deer hiding out in the back.

Probably the only smart deer of the bunch, hiding in the back.

After that, here’s one of them sticking his tongue out at me from about 10 feet.  I was mesmerized.

I swear he's sticking his tongue out at me!

And finally, I really don’t think they care that we were around, and they started to eat again while I sat there taking pictures.

Om Nom Nom Nom. OK, deer don't actually make that noise.

Here are two deer getting their munch on with the delicious foliage.

I hope you guys enjoyed my pictorial journal.  I know I enjoyed making it!

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