William Gross Magee Goes Underground

William Gross Magee contacted us with details about an exciting project he’s working on. What follows is the text he submitted. We will be featuring him in detail as he gets closer to the completion of this photographic endeavor.

I am doing a research project with the permission from the National Parks Service to duplicate the first underground photos in America. They were done by Charles Waldack in 1866. Waldack burned magnesium to light the cave. To compare and contrast the changes in the cave and photographic technology, I am using the latest in photographic technology including speedlights with wireless control.

Vickie T. Carson, Public Information Officer at Mammoth Cave National Park standing at the end of Giant's Coffin.

In 40 years of photography, cave photograph is one of the most challenging type of photographs I have undertaken. Without the control offered by the PocketWizard FlexTT5® system some of the shots would simply not be possible!

The images are shot in stereo using a custom slider bar and two exposure. The repeatability between exposure is critical to maintain correct color when images are combined into stereo. The PocketWizard FlexTT5 system delivered accurate and repeatable exposures under the most difficult conditions.

The attached shot is of Giant’s Coffin in Mammoth Cave National Park. The formation is 20×40 foot in size with a passage way behind leading deeper in the cave. The photo was taken with 5 speedlights in 3 zones controlled by the PocketWizard FlexTT5 system. The flash hidden behind the formation simply could not be triggered by infrared. Setting the power of the flashes AC3 ZoneController helped make the very limited time in the cave much more productive.

I hope to complete the research and publish the photographs and information by 2016. That year has very significant importance. It will the 200th anniversary of tours in Mammoth Cave, the 150th anniversary of the first underground photographs in America, the 100th anniversary of the formation of the National Parks Service and the 75th anniversary of Mammoth Cave National Park.

If you would like more information about or support for the project please do not hesitate to contact me.

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