Accompanied by Sennheiser stereo and shotgun microphones, National Geographic photojournalist Martin Edström recently explored the recently discovered Son Doong cave – nicknamed the ‘infinite cave’ – in Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park, Vietnam.
Edström, along with his team of six photographers and logistics, communications and lighting specialists, took 360° photos and recorded the sounds of the nearly untouched cave (pictured), which was only explored the first time in 2009.
For the expedition, Edström selected an SPM 8000 stereo, MKH 8060 short gun and MKH 8070 long gun microphone. All three mics are based on Sennheiser’s MKH 8000 series radio frequency condensers, which featur extremely low inherent self-noise and high resistance to unfavourable climatic conditions, such as moisture, dampness, cold and heat.
The team’s journey took them from Europe to Hanoi in January, and, after some issues (not, as feared, with the 40kg of batteries, but in getting their tripods into Vietnam) they travelled about 500km south to reach Phong Nha-Ke Bang. They spent about spent two weeks in Vietnam and a week inside Son Doong.
Edström (right) says: “We spent five very concentrated days in the cave photographing and recording. Sound-wise, there was always something to be heard: wind, water dripping, a river running, distant birds – and sometimes also the thundering silence, if you know what I mean!
“The SPM 8000 stereo microphone was always on recording duty; it was great for capturing the atmospheric audio. We used the MKH 8060 short shotgun microphone about 50 per cent of the time, when we wanted to highlight a sound – for example the singing of birds – or some sounds of the river that flows through Son Doong.
“Sound is as important as the images because it really transports you to the place. Listening to the sound gives the website visitors exactly the same feeling as we had in the cave. 360° panoramic views combined with the fantastic soundscape perfectly recreate the atmosphere that we experienced in Son Doong.”