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Mobile photo #5: caves

(Topic created on: 16-08-2022 06:44 AM)
Samsung Members Star ★★★

Hi Community,

I've had a great holiday in Betliar (you probably don't know the series 1890? It's set there and the local nature appealed to us so much that you went there) and there are several cave complexes nearby that we visited. And I thought I might write down some dos and don'ts if you want to have a memory in the form of great photos.

Get informed

The very first thing you should do is find out if and under what conditions you can take pictures in the cave. Somewhere it is forbidden completely, and in that case we are simply unlucky. I certainly do not recommend trying to take photos "undercover". Somewhere there is a charge for photography and it's up to you if it's worth it. Sometimes it's a symbolic amount, but in Slovakia, for example, a photo shoot cost the same as an adult ticket. This, in combination with the impossibility of paying by card, is the reason why I will not share the Slovak caves. Fortunately, photography was free in the neighboring Hungarian caves, so I was able to take also some educational pictures.


Of course, a (mirrorless) camera and a tripod are ideal. But tripod photography is prohibited for regular visitors, and since we're on a mobile site, we'll focus on mobile photography. Of course, the newer the phone and the higher the series, the better. Be aware that there is high humidity and low temperature in the caves, so consider whether to expose mobile phones that do not have IP68 protection to this environment.

Do not disturb others

In Slovakia, I encountered behavior that I did not understand. People carry flashlights with them and shine into the caves. It really disturbs the atmosphere of lighting the cave, and I probably don't even need to talk about how nice it is when someone shines a light in your eyes.

For the same reason, do not use flash. Never. Butwhen...? No NEVER! In the Moravian karst, it is directly prohibited by the visitor regulations, it is very unpleasant for everyone around and, on top of that, it completely spoils the photo.

Since the use of flash was not directly prohibited in Hungary and several people were taking photos with flash, I took a moment when I did not disturb anyone and took one photo with flash and then without flash. This is from the S22 Ultra. It is worth it?

flash onflash on flash offflash off

As you can see, the colors are off and the atmosphere is completely gone. Even if I try to save the colors in Photoshop, at best I get something like this (on the right, a slightly edited photo without flash, which reproduces the atmosphere in the cave much better):

blesk2.jpg nocni rezim 2a.jpg

Take your time

Of course, so that you don't delay others. I recommend staying in front of the guide as much as possible and quickly taking as many photos as you can before the others come. It doesn't always work, in which case you have to improvise. And remember the previous chapter - do not disturb others. Do not stand in narrow gaps, do not block the best view for a long time and try not to take photos of other visitors. On the other hand, a photo in a poorly (quantitatively speaking) lit space takes some time. Night mode for a few seconds, automatic less than a second. In both cases, the mobile phone must be stationary during the photo shoot, otherwise the photo will be blurry. If you are not sure, repeat the photo.

pomalu 1.jpg pomalu 2.jpg 

Here you can see the difference in sharpness when I was in a hurry and in the second photo when I repeated the photo at rest.

Color balance

This is hard. Under normal circumstances, I recommend shooting on automatic, but it throws off warm lighting and creates rather neutral, gray images. On the other hand, it makes perfect use of the sensor's capabilities. I tried taking pictures on the switcher on automatic and in Pro mode, where the white balance can be set manually, or the Expert RAW application, which probably gave the best results. In addition, when you load RAW in Photoshop, for example, you get something like this:


Here is the output from automatic and Pro mode for comparison. Thanks to AI, the automatic mode produces sharper photos, and the Pro mode produces more faithful colors. Since the colors can be saved, but the sharpness is much worse, I recommend either Expert RAW or automatic.

vyvazeni 1.jpg vyvazeni 2.jpg

On the left For the mode with manual color adjustment, on the right automatic. The atmosphere sucks, but then again, it's sharper.

Here I would also mention HDR - definitely turn it off. The caves are full of contrasts and the result of HDR is a photo where the lighted areas are gray. Yes, you will see the artwork there, but the atmosphere is in gone again.

Night mode

Samsung mobile phones can use night mode. When I tested it in a scene where there was quite a bit of light, I couldn't see a difference between a photo taken with night mode and without:

nocni rezim 1.jpg nocni rezim 2.jpg

The night mode will probably be the more enlightened one, but I can't say which is actually better.

But if you find yourself in a place where there is really little light (it was almost completely dark here), it can be more interesting:

night mode offnight mode off night mode onnight mode on


The basic setting of the S22 Ultra is 12 Mpx, where 3x3 pixels are combined into one. In most cases, this is probably the best solution. If you switch to 108 Mpx (in which case I recommend turning on detail enhancement), you will theoretically get a more detailed photo, but the AI will not be used as well and the high ISO will kill it again. Apart from really interesting and well-lit scenes, I rather do not recommend it.

rozliseni 1a.jpg rozliseni 1b.jpg

For comparison, a cut-out from 108 Mpx and 12 Mpx.


Cave photography is one of the more demanding disciplines and it is good to know what and why you are doing. And what about you? Do you take photos in the caves or do you just look around? Show off your photos here or in the Gallery!

Samsung Members Star ★★

Hi @Libb  Gad you enjoyed the holiday, interesting and informative 😁

I do not work for Samsung or make Samsung Products but provide independent advice and valuable contributions.