by Kaylah Stroup

There are some shenanigans my friends and I get into that I don’t blog about for one reason or another. Exploring tunnels is one of these things for a handful of reasons. One important thing being I would never want to encourage you to do something potentially dangerous. Flash floods are real, and air quality should always be something you’re thinking about. Second, they aren’t really all that glamorous, and in the past I really struggled with how to photograph them.

I’ve expressed my frustrations with night photography in the past but this like a step past night photography. These tunnels are completely dark in most cases. No light at all. It’s up to you and your flashlight to put together a cool shot. The dozen or so times previous to this that I’ve been underground I didn’t really take all that many photos. In a situation that is kind of new to me it’s tough for me to want to experiment when the people around seem so confident and like they know exactly what they’re doing. I don’t know if that make any sense at all especially since I’m confident my friends wouldn’t judge me for any potentially crappy photos.

This time I was really feeling it though! It’s such a great feeling to be excited to sort through your photos at the end of an adventure. I’m so thankful to have friends who put me in unique situations and encourage me to grow as a photographer, whether they mean to or not.

someone lost their purse!

In the past I always just set up to take the same or very similar shots that my friends were taking. Basically just long exposures where someone was silhouetted – kind of like this one or this one Jeff took of me. It was almost like I felt I couldn’t shoot anything other than that because I was just learning to take long exposures to begin with so I wanted to get that perfect shot. This time I went into with the notion that I wanted to capture the experience, not the perfect photos, and I am so so so excited about what I got.

My favorites of the bunch are the long exposures weird light trails from out flashlights, and ghost-like figures, like the one below. I picked that up near the end of our little adventure on accident and then promptly decided I had to shoot like that more. The first photo in this post is absolute favorite. I had everyone walk away from me while I took a thirty second exposure. It was a super long, super dark, thirty seconds which I spent singing quietly to calm the thoughts of tunnel monsters but it was so worth it.

underground, tunnel

My goal as a photographer is to always be growing, experimenting, and learning new skills. In the last two years I have done SO much of this. I’m curious to see where I’ll be in another few years. I can’t wait to get back and play around more!

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