Photographing the Sataplia Cave
The Sataplia Nature Reserve
A Georgian colleague, Amiko, and I, accompanied by an English-speaking guide, were exploring the Sataplia Nature Reserve in Kutaisi, Georgia. We have just viewed Jurassic era footprints inside an enclosure near the entrance to the reserve then the guide led us into the forest. We followed a trail that went downhill and along the cliff-sides of the mountain. The trail was newly-paved, had railings and provided a good view of the mountains around and the valley below which we greatly enjoyed until we arrived at the cave.
The Sataplia Cave
The entrance to cave is encased in glass and an electronically-controlled metal door covers the mouth of the cave. We were told that this was necessary to control the internal environment of the cave. We were very excited, it was Amiko’s first time to see a cave, mine to photograph one.
Stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave formed fascinating patterns. Artificial lighting provided dramatic effects to these various natural forms and changed to various shades and colours as we followed the 900-metre concrete path walk and railing inside the cave. The temperature was mild, maintained at the same level throughout the year. Water can be heard flowing through various gorges and chasms beneath us. At a certain section of the cave called “The Heart”, strong water actually poured down from a stalactite to a heart-shaped stalagmite, the dramatic light greatly enhancing its effect and making me want to mount the heart and bathe under the fresh water. The guide told us that water from this cave actually poured out to the Sataplia village below.
Although we were allowed to take photos, the guide courteously requested us not to use the flash as it disturbed certain aspects, which I’m not so clear about, that they want to maintain inside the cave. The varying colors and intensity of light required constant adjustments to the camera settings and, as usual, I did not have a tripod with me and there was no flat surface along the railing where I could mount my camera. And so I tried hard to keep my hand steady as I took long exposure shots while joining the conversation between Amiko and the guide. Whew, it was quite a feat but in the end I came out with pictures which were not so bad considering the conditions in which they were taken.
- The Sataplia Nature Reserve (travellingartist.wordpress.com)