Rio Torretta expedition 2023
Explorer: Luigi Casati
underwater photography: Matteo Mescalchin
Taking part in the 2023 Rio Torretta Expedition has been definitely a challenge. Luigi Casati is a veteran of underwater speleology and he's indeed highly knowledgeable about this unique cave in north Italy. We couldn't have a better team leader.
The cave appears equally beautiful and insidious. Three siphons are separated by air-filled tunnels, forcing speleo divers to make slow progress crawling and climbing among huge stones with multiple bottlenecks. Some relatively smooth sections alternate with extended segments presenting very low clearance sometimes as low as 80 centimeters. Moving forward some heavy equipment is incredibly hard work in such a clog up path.
The cold (water temperature is around 9 C°) is a factor to be carefully considered.
Even the simplest task as pushing a button can’t be taken for granted when operating in the pitch black darkness of the cave. Everything must be carefully planned and tested.
The narrow passages make us hobbling along the way.
The camera housing is relatively easy to handle underwater but it needs to be carried on across the air-filled sessions with considerable exertion.
Lighting is my turf, so I wanted to push things a bit more than what would be normally considered appropriate for this extreme environment.
Most of the times, when operating in such hostile conditions, all you can do is finding a good ‘point and shoot style’ set up and stick with it. Unfortunately, such an easy choice would have easily ‘killed’ the rocks making them too bright when up close or too dark in the distance. On the other hand, using just a couple of headlights would have left the subject soaked into the darkness leaving the Nature’s amazing architectural work heavily underexposed.
For such reasons, I dared using both off-camera and in-camera strobes, also blending in the diving lights. This mix required continuous exposure adjustments on the fly, but I call myself happy with the outcome.
Thanks for watching.