Robbie Shone@shonephoto

Photographer / Explorer
Committed to creating unique images of exploration from our extreme subterranean world. @natgeoimagecollection @NatGeo

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Robbie Shone

The food is a really important aspect of every expedition. If the team don’t eat well, it can lead to ‘hangry’ people! On our last expedition in China, we stayed with a wonderful family in Ranjiagou, who looked after us really well. The food in rural China is a real cultural experience too. The same on every expedition around the world. These photographs show the typical scene every evening in the family’s farmhouse. Dou Ximei’s cooking was the highlight of the expedition on top of finding so many new and amazing caves.
Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

American speleologist and cave explorer Erin Lynch peers over her shoulder and down into the giant void of Cloud Ladder Hall. The fog gathers and remains trapped in the roof of this giant room and although the floor is out of view and can not be seen because of the cloud, her echo reminds her that it is over 300m (1000ft) below. This really is a very lofty location to be suspended from a single rope. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

The limestone in this region of China is so strong, it can withstand such giant voids like Cloud Ladder Hall. Eventually though, over time, the weight of rock above will become too great and it will collapse, forming a giant sinkhole or Tian Keng, a huge hole open to the surface.
This gigantic cave that has never seen the light of day is a tough photography target under clear conditions. But this one posed an extra challenge: it's so large and so isolated that it has its own weather – including clouds. Weather makes its way in, but it can't make its way out. For this photograph, I had three accomplices: one standing out of frame with a large single-use flash bulb, one standing on the rock to the left shining her headlamp at the cave wall, and a third dangling from a rope hundreds of metres away. Although the shutter was open for only 30 seconds, the whole operation took four hours, with the team communicating via walkie-talkie because the echoes made shouting unworkable. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

A quick break from exploring the caves of China. Before I was a @natgeo photographer, I was a member of the @natgeoyourshot community. My photos caught the eye of the Your Shot editors and to my joy, this one was featured as National Geographic’s Photo of the Day. I remember how I felt when this happened. I was so excited and so happy. Finally, my photographs of caves had been recognised by the “right” people. It gave me that extra bit of hope and determination to push ahead. That’s why I am so keen to help with Your Shot, because I was once a community member, and I fed off the enthusiasm gained from reading more detailed comments by proper Nat Geo photographers! It was so encouraging and gave me the confidence to continue with my dream. Good luck to you all. | Go to https://natgeoyourshot.com to join Your Shot, National Geographic’s photo community and participate in my 24-hour assignment for your chance to receive a portfolio review as we celebrate 10M Your Shot photos. Submissions close May 18, 2019 at 8 a.m. EDT.


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Robbie Shone

Suspended on a thin rope, engulfed in cloud and lost in time, a tiny figure in red is dwarfed by the sheer size on a monumental scale of Cloud Ladder Hall. The beam of light cast by another explorers headtorch pierces the fog yet illuminates nothing. This room is so large it has it's own weather system going on. From the central ridge overlooking the cathedral like Cloud Ladder Hall, towering up into the fog, figures add scale to this gigantic cave. High up in the distance, the roof remains unseen to the explorers. However, estimates in it's size show that it must cut through many levels of cave development along the way. This is the fourth largest cave chamber ever found in the world today. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

As evening descends upon the outside world, two cave explorers enter Er Long Dong and begin a long journey through the cave to the gigantic chamber known as Cloud Ladder Hall. This is one of three known tunnels into the cave leading to the big hall, but probably the easiest to negotiate. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

In a small clearing surrounded by trees and thick vegetation, three tiny explorers admire the scale of the Niubizi Tian Keng in Wulong, China. In such a space, the obvious question to ask by any cave explorer is how big the cave chamber must have been before the roof collapsed in opening it up to the daylight outside. Hidden from view, this lost world now contains it's own unique ecosystem thriving, secluded in paradise. Thin wisps of clouds gather and gently rise up following a heavy downpour of rain. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

As night falls upon the surface across Wulong County, China, a lonesome cave explorer ascends a rope out from the Niubizi Tian Keng, a giant collapsed cave chamber that is now open to daylight. Clouds rise from the saturated vegetation on the floor of this mighty Tian Keng. The portal will soon be shrouded in total darkness and left to its natural state. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

Not every cave in China is overwhelmingly large. Some are small. Here, two explorers make progress along an awkward stretch of cave passage known as Where the Wind Blows, suitably named because of the strong wind that whistles through the small restriction, churning up dust and sand particles into the air and into their faces. Due to the size of the small tunnel, they are forced to push their caving sacks ahead of them, but actually this helps block out some of the sand and dust flying around in the air. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

Tall, majestic, and beautifully formed stalagmites overlook a level playing field of sediment and dry sand. Blown away by wind, the floor of this room has cracked over time. San Wang Dong in China's Wulong County has many ancient secrets that await illumination. Over the next week or so, I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

Underground in China, a cave explorer is dwarfed by incredible cave formations. They are heavily calcified stalagmites coated with a dry 'popcorn' like substance that has formed over the top of them. They were found growing on a ledge overlooking a large passage in a cave called San Wang Dong in China's Wulong County. This is a classic example of a very old high level fossil passage, which has long since lost the waters that helped create these beautiful and delicate formations. Over the next few weeks I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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Robbie Shone

Explorers emerge from a giant black hole with a real stride in their step. This is because they have a notebook full of survey data after mapping uncharted and previously unexplored galleries. Once back at base, they can crunch all the numbers into the computer and see exactly what they have found and where it ties in with the rest of the known San Wan Dong cave system. On route, the two explorers pass by the remains of old Nitrate mining that covers the floor in the form of harths, pits and unwanted spoil.
Over the next few weeks I will upload a photo a day from China’s hidden underworld. Stay tuned for more. #China #cave #explorer #speleo #speleology #landscape #expedition #explore #exploration #caving #caver #letsexplore


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