Last week, with my visiting family members, we escaped the summer heat down a salt mine. In Poland the most popular salt mine to visit is Wieliczka near Krakow. This is the oldest mine in the country and is no longer operational. I have been there before and was not really too impressed, this may have had something to do with our guide being really uninteresting and giving off the feeling of not wanting to be there. Luckily we did not return to Wieliczka, instead we went to the salt mines in Klodowa.
Klodowa is the biggest operating salt mine in Poland and much younger than the famous Wieliczka with the first shafts being dug between 1950 and 1955. When they first started surveying the area they we looking for oil not salt, as oil is usually found close to salt deposits. The there are many different types of salt found in Klodowa with the majority being a rosy pink colour.
If you are in central Poland I would recommend a visit, beware that there is no English tour and that all tours are in Polish, so you would need a translator to appreciate the tour fully. There are only two tours a day in the week and none at weekends. The first tour is at 10 o’clock and the second at 2 o’clock. For the 2 o’clock tour you need to ring on the morning of your visit to reserve a place on the tour.
The first part of the mine that you walk though is a commuting tunnel for workers and goods. Even with it being well lit, I had to use ISO 6400 and a low aperture just to get a manageable shutter speed. I didn’t want to use flash due to my experience in Wilieczka, when I used flash and the flash highlighted all the salt dust in the air. Since this is a working mine you can’t get left behind so using a tripod was out of the question.
With all the lighting issues I only took pictures in this first part although i would love to go back with permission and take some more images deeper in the mine.
At the top of the image it looks like it is raining, these are actually stalactites that are slightly blurred.
Editing the images was quite a challenge. Usually there is some latitude in camera raw to adjust the exposure. When shooting at a high ISO and in dark conditions there is still some latitude but this comes hand in hand with some colour shifts. I did reduce the noise, though I left a small amount in for effect.
In Photoshop I toned the image using Alien Skin Exposure 4 and choose the faux Polachome effect. I choose this effect as the colours are slightly muted, which I prefer to more saturated colours. I feel that more saturated colours would make these image a bit muddier with less clarity in the details.
I did some minor dodging and burning as well as colour correction to areas that had large colour shifts. Finally I sharpened the images.
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