Looking down into the main entrance of Empire Mine as it would be seen by the miners about to be shot into it (tracks on the right) and as the gold ore was removed (tracks on the left). What you can barely see as an obstruction in the left side at the second set of lights is actually one of the mining cars (close-ups to be seen later). The miners were seated in a sideless, topless railcar that had nothing but 2X4’s for them to push their feet against and balance their butts on as they were literally dropped into the mines at a phenomenal speed. (More on that later). On their way down they held their legs as far inward as possible (with some other miner sitting between their knees) and ducked their heads. If they didn’t, I’m assuming there would be a lot of commotion from the miners behind the one half splattered against the rusty framework holding the mine open. Not a good way to start your day….
This shot was a combination of flash and higher ISO so I could show the walls in the foreground and something more than a black hole in the middle. It took about 10 minutes to get the correct set of parameters working but, in the end, both the Nikon D80 and the Nikon D60 managed to get the shot. The ambiance lighting was limited to three places: at the top (where we were), at the middle, and at the bottom.
By the way, Empire Mines had the best safety record of any gold mine in California with under 30 deaths in thousands of workers. Some of that is easily attributed to the metal frameworks used here where nothing but timber was used elsewhere. To make those frameworks, a large shop was a crucial part of the mine’s daily operations.
Image was featured with my thanks in the Gold Rush And Ghost Towns group. :-)