So this is part of what will become a series. The main focus of this trip was to shoot video content, however with the craziness of work and a new baby on the way that content is still on it's way. So for the meantime enjoy this breakdown of the trip and some of the long exposure's I took whilst inside the mine with my LumeCubes. (LumeCubes can be bought here: Direct or Amazon)
There’s been a place that my dad told me about dozens of times growing up. He used to explore the mountains around Snowdonia and camp with his friends over 30 years ago. At one particular spot they accidentally stumbled across there was an abandoned slate mine. Having seen a couple of people enter one of the entrances and emerge from another a good hour or so later they decided to head in. Being 30 years ago they had very basic torches to explore with so could only see what was in their weak beam of light.
We’ve been meaning to visit it together for years but with growing up, moving away, having a little boy of my own and starting my own business it’s been tough to get away and find the time.
Finally we secured some time and headed up for a few days and revisit this incredible place. Being a cinematographer by trade I couldn’t resist the possibilities of what I could shoot if we made it into the mine. There was a very good chance that it would no longer be accessible and I had to expect that but if there was slim chance we’d get in and it was as big as he remembered then I had to make the most of it!
There were a few thing’s I wanted to try if we could get in. Long exposure to see how big the larger chambers were and then potentially fly my drone inside with some onboard lights.
After the initial trek up the mountain we made it to the spot. There were roughly 5 entrances to the mine, two of which had been covered. The top two were essentially slime mould covered slides into a dark abyss and the last was a small opening at the bottom of a large open cavern with waterfalls running down the far side. After some careful scrambling with a large pelican case and my camera bag packed full of gear we were in front of the entrance.
After ducking under the entrance we were met with crystal clear ice cold water leading down what seemed like an endless corridor into the mountain. With wellies ready to go it wasn’t long before we had to decide weather to just got for it and get soaked as the water slowly crept up to the rim of our wellies. We could just about make out something poking out of the water just down from us and I had to at least see what that was so I went for it allowing the ice cold water to numb my legs. I soon realised it was an old rusted mine cart that was decaying on the old tracks below the water..
Another 100 yards or so down the dark corridor we were suddenly met with numerous tunnels and a large opening. Instantly aware that we didn’t want to get lost we took it slow and took the first left. Instantly the descriptions I had heard from my dad all clicked into place as it opened up like a cathedral with a massive stage of rock on one side with old rusting cogs and boiler tanks. The other half of the chamber was a massive lagoon of water with no concept of depth. Random pipes and other mining bits and pieces sticking out of the water. We’d made it!
The first thing I did when we got in there was some long exposure shots, using a cheap tripod with my old trusty Canon 5DMK2 and Triggertrap I was ready to go. Being a dangerous and slippy place I had to make sure I wasn’t dashing around in complete darkness to get in the shot with my dad overlooking the ‘lagoon’. To get around this I set TriggerTrap up to trigger my camera by sound. The camera was setup on a ledge behind and above where we would be stood requiring a slow scramble down a couple of ledges. All I had to do then was click my fingers or whistle and it would release the shutter starting the long exposure.
For the light painting although we had head torches I wanted to try and give a sense of scale so I used a pair of LumeCubes held in front of my chest to slowly paint light onto the ceiling, water and walls. I was surprised by the first take at how well they had performed. A couple of retakes to get rid of some shadows I had unintentionally cast and I was set!
I wish I had spent more time taking some more long exposure’s whilst down there but I had intended to revisit the mine on our second or third day however time was limited and we didn’t get a chance to get back in there. I also was eager to mount the LumeCubes to my drone to get some aerial footage inside the mine… Video coming soon!