2022 TSA Convention Workshops

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8:00 am - 10:00 am
Introduction to Cave Photography - Bennett Lee

There are currently over a trillion pictures taken every year—more than all the photos taken in the entire 20th century. How can you avoid adding to the mediocrity and produce great photos? And how can you produce great photos in a particularly challenging environment like a cave from the total darkness that you have to somehow illuminate to the inhospitable mud, humidity, and dust? Fear not! In this course, we will discuss:

Overview of camera equipment for caving.
The best settings for your fancy camera while caving.
Tricks for point-and-shoot and phone cameras.
Let there be light! Numerous ways to light the dark void of caves.
Hands-on in-cave tutorials.
BONUS! Photography secrets that I didn’t learn until years after becoming a photographer—you get to learn your first day!

Prerequisites: This is a beginner course. There are no prerequisites except a desire to take better photos underground. 

Required Gear: A camera, preferably one with a “hotshoe” (place to mount a flash). A mirrorless or DSLR camera is best, followed by a point-and-shoot, and lastly a camera phone.
Bright headlamp, preferably one with a cool/bluish tone (“color temperature” of 5500-6500K) rather than typical warm/yellow tone (3500-4500K). Cool tones are a better match to flashes and sunlight.
Tripod for your camera. Required for long exposures, otherwise optional.
External flash. Optional, but highly recommended. We’ll learn techniques both with and without flashes.



8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Beginner Cave Sketching - Dale Barnard

Know a thing or two about cave survey, but want to learn more about how to “keep the book” for your survey team? In this course we will open with a brief overview on the basics of shooting stations. We will then go over what it means to be the “sketcher” on your survey team. We will learn how to record stations, create a basic line plot, and sketch walls and floor detail. No prior experience needed. Come ready to sketch a cave!

Prerequisites: A minimal understanding of the basics of cave survey is a plus, but not required

Required Gear: A sketch book if you have it (some will be available to borrow), basic caving gear (helmet, light, knee pads, pack)



9:00 am - 12:00pm
Sketching With TopoDroid - Amy Morton

Would you like to make the most accurate and precise sketches you can? Do you own a DistoX and an Android tablet or phone? Download the free Topodroid and Cave 3D Applications onto that device and come to the Topodroid workshop at Spring Convention. I will be teaching the basics of Topodroid sketching, including setting up a survey, importing shots, drawing walls and details.  I'll cover which tools in the program are useful for cartography and navigating a few quirks of the program.  Other useful features of Topodroid, such as using splay shots to draw your cross sections,  using the sister program Cave 3D to make projects and backing up and exporting files will be addressed in the workshop.  Please come ready to make the most accurate passage survey you've ever sketched!

Prerequisites: Previous cave survey experience and a basic understanding of cave maps

Required Gear: Disto X, Android device with TopoDroid and Cave 3D, basic caving gear (helmet, light, knee pads, pack)



10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Introduction to In-Cave Single Rope Technique - Ethan Perrine

So you want to sign up for your first vertical trip, but you’ve never been on rope before? Maybe you’ve been on rope a couple of times, but want to try out some different gear or work on your technique. This course will cover the basics of Single Rope Technique including the basic gear needed, how to adjust and fit your gear properly, and how to descend and ascend safely in a cave environment. We will practice safely in the trees as you learn what it takes to be ready for your first vertical caving trip.

Prerequisites: No previous vertical practice necessary, but come ready to get on rope and practice ascending and descending

Required Gear: helmet and vertical gear if you have it (some will be available to borrow)



8 am to 10 am
Haul Systems, Mechanical Advantage & Tyroleans (high-lines) - Ryan Strenkowski

Understanding haul systems and how to make mechanical advantage your best friend. Rigging Tyroleans including haul systems with confidence.

"The greatest teacher on ropes in your lifetime should be yourself."

Prerequisites: None

Required Gear: Bring all gear you have - harnesses, ascent/descent gear, 8's, brake racks, soft goods, descenders/ascenders, pulleys, etc...



10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Advanced Vertical World Techniques On Rope - Ryan Strenkowski
Deviations, Self-Rescue, Pick-Offs, Passing Knots in Systems

Multitude of ascent/descent systems, creative methods with limited gear including friction hitches, anchors, passing knots & more. Review the math and science of rope theory to better understand why you are doing what you are doing and how to break the rules safely.

"You may never know what you need to know only one time on ropes in your lifetime, but it could save your life or that of others."

Prerequisites: Previous vertical experience. You should feel comfortable ascending and descending on rope.

Required Gear: Bring all gear you have - harnesses, ascent/descent gear, 8's, brake racks, soft goods, descenders/ascenders, pulleys, etc...


11 am - 12 pm
Caver Show and Tell - Bill Steele

This workshop is about what is in use in Texas caving these days. What is the current state-of-the-art? Bring your cave pack, your boots, your gloves, your knee and elbow pads, your helmet and lights, your daren drum or Nalgene bottle, and be ready to explain why you went that way. 

Prerequisites: None

Required Gear: Everything you take into a cave. Don't have any gear or are new to caving? Join us anyway to see what other cavers are using.