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How I came to explore old mine workings was a bit strange really; as a child my father would talk about the times that he spent working the coal seams of South Wales, this gave me an inherent interest in machinery and the general mining industry. Over many years I would drive by many of the forgotten tunnels that lay dormant all over the North East, always having been told to never enter because of the dangers that would be found inside.

One day I decided that I would actually like to find out exactly what was supposed to be inside these 'dangerous' tunnels, within that moment -an interest was born. I had to find out about mining in the Pennines, find out about photography to show people my findings and also learn how to safely enter and explore abandoned mines and caves.

The time I entered my first minOne of the earliest photographs I took inside a mine.One of the earliest photographs I took inside a mine.e (Coldberry) with nothing more than a keyring torch which was part of the car keys - it was amazing how quickly ones eyes adjust to the darkness with such a poor light. Laying in my bed that night thinking about the day, I realised what a fool I had been to think that a watch battery operated keyring torch was possibly the only thing that I could rely on at that moment to keep me safe!

My lighting and knowledge was poor, what exactly was in there that I couldn't see? What dangers had I put myself in?

I researched the mines in the area, caving techniques, lighting and safety information etc. I purchased an LED head torch, helmet and other waterproof back-up lighting that I could use. I grabbed my old tripod and compact digital camera and proceeded to return to the mine to take some better photos.

Over a period of time, my experience grew - I learned about how to detect serious dangers in the mines such as false floors, poor air quality and structural hazards. I also spent a lot more time in the pitch dark experimenting with different camera settings trying to capture an image which were 'better than eye' (long exposure photography).

One thing lead to another and over several years the cheaper equipment got upgraded to better quality items, with a Sten head light, remote controlled Nikon DSLR and Manfrotto tripod all being hiked along on each exploration.

I hoped to be able to take some photographs that capture the beautiful formations and history that is found within the tunnels, whilst remaining safe in the knowledge that my equipment is up to the job and can take a fair beating before it will give in.

Eventually the photography gave rise to point of view videography and trail cameras and a new challenge of being able to produce enough light so that the eternal darkness of a mine could be lit with enough power to produce usable video footage. High power HID lighting and quality LED lamps were the answer and are capable of producing more than enough light over a long period of at least 13 hours to enable us to capture satisfactory results.

Having now acquired over 17 years experience in exploring underground workings, the excitement continues to grow as we discover new workings and unexplored passageways. It is amazing that there are still so many undiscovered workings with very little information relating to the site that continue to exist, hidden away in the hillsides and moorlands of the North East Pennines.

Safety Notice: To enter a disused mine is extremely dangerous and my result in serious or fatal injury, recovery from an accident would place rescue persons involved in serious danger and in the event of a ground collapse, recovery may be impossible. You should not enter a disused mine or working without training under any circumstances.

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