Photography in a gold mine…

This series of images was created for Allcover Products deep inside the Fosterville Gold mine, located just outside of Bendigo in Victoria. Essentially the brief was to photograph the mine ventilation ducting on location, and at the same time to clean up and colour match the old ducting with the newly launched product. Naturally this required a fair amount of careful work in Photoshop after the shoot, but this is exactly the type of photography I really enjoy.

Working underground is certainly challenging, since the environment is hot and humid, and of course in most places within the mine there is absolutely no light whatsoever. You are of course wearing overalls and self rescue kit, hard hat and lamp, ear plugs, heavy boots and restrictive eye protectors. Coupled with this, time underground is usually restricted since most companies cannot afford to have their staff standing around idly, and of course the first 30 minutes or so underground is spent waiting for the condensation to disappear from the camera and lenses as the equipment acclimatizes. I think the overall challenge of working in these conditions is a part of what draws me to this work; I really do love it! It is as if the mine becomes your studio, and you simply paint with light and flash where you require it. All of the images below are a mixture of flash combined with light painting during a time exposure…

Underground at Fosterville Gold Mine, Bendigo
Where possible I use vehicles to provide some extra illumination, as well as add some extra drama to the image… © Michael Evans Photographer 2013
Underground at Fosterville Gold Mine, Bendigo
Light painting the ducting simply required patience and practice… © Michael Evans Photographer 2013
Underground at Fosterville Gold Mine, Bendigo
Working in the dark, I decided to set up a quick portrait using three flash heads… © Michael Evans Photographer 2013
Underground at Fosterville Gold Mine, Bendigo
Just managed to grab some extra ‘bodies’ for this shot, although of course as in all the images the ducting in the ‘hero’… © Michael Evans Photographer 2013
Underground at Fosterville Gold Mine, Bendigo
Another shot using flash and the light painting technique… © Michael Evans Photographer 2013
Underground at Fosterville Gold Mine, Bendigo
The two products meet… Here I also waited for the truck to go past, just adding a nice bit of motion blur drama… © Michael Evans Photographer 2013

For all of these images I used the Canon 5D Mark III, and my old favourite the 17mm TS-E, which can indeed be a challenge to focus underground in the dark wearing PPE. While this lens is very sharp, it does have the drawback in that as soon as you introduce any shift motion, you really have to guess the exposure, take an image and then evaluate the image and accompanying histogram. As with all my photography, I only ever work in full manual mode so after a while you have a pretty good idea of what the exposure with the 17mm lens when shifted is going to be, despite the light meter reading… Still it is a superb piece of optical design! Naturally it goes without saying that I take a full complement of back-up gear on such shoots, since I simply cannot afford to be unable to work due to a faulty radio trigger or lens…

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8 thoughts on “Photography in a gold mine…

  1. Great work, really appreciable! There are very people who get such an opportunity and you have proved its worth as well. All the pictures are so lively that I can imagine myself there in the mine. I myself also want to avail this kind of opportunity so that I can get a much closer look of the same.

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