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Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, Waters Churn, and Cavers Bubble

On, Thursday, July 26th, deep beneath the hills of Indiana, Robert Coomer received his 5th national medal for cave photography. His image, humorously named “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, Waters Churn, and Cavers Bubble” won the Best of Show medal in the National Speleological Society’s (NSS) B+W Print Salon. This makes his 4th for the B+W print salon, the other was in the Digital Print Salon. His image, “Dance with Light” took 3rd place. Both images were shot in a cave in southern Kentucky.

Dance With Light

The following night at an awards dinner, Robert Coomer was name as a Fellow of the NSS. Fellows of the NSS are designated for their efforts over the years to further the goals of the Society through cave exploration, science, conservation, or administration. No more than 10 percent of the NSS members may be Fellows. The current percentage is quite a bit below 10%. Robert Coomer has served as editor, webmaster, and as a board member for the Greater Cincinnati Grotto, the local chapter of the NSS. He has also worked hard to help various non-profit caving groups and cave conservancies.

The awards dinner and photo competition took place during the National Speleological Society’s annual convention which was held this year in Marengo, Indiana. Both ceremonies were held about a half mile deep underground in the Marengo Warehouse & Distribution Center, one of America’s largest underground commercial storage facilities. It was once a large limestone mine and quarry.

Robert Coomer said. “I’m proud, and honored to have received both awards.”

Robert Coomer grew up in Brown County, Ohio and now lives in Batavia. Though locally Robert is know for his images of rural barns and farmscapes from Adams, Brown, and Clermont counties, he has been shooting cave photos for almost 10 years. When asked why he has chosen to take cave photos, he said, “Because it’s a challenge! It’s like being in another world. My images become abstract studies in darkness and light, even though they may quite literally be exactly what I saw. It’s a world very alien to most people. They’ll look at my images and wonder if they are real. Besides being a visual challenge, they are also a logistical one. Because caves are dark by nature, I have to provide my own light. Many times I may have a crew of 3 to 10 other cavers helping me to fulfill my vision, by carrying and holding flashbulbs and other equipment. Without their help, I couldn’t do it.”

Robert goes on to say, “Caves and are very fragile environment and are heavily affected by the world above them. I hope my images will help others to appreciate the beauty that may be just beneath their feet, and consider their environmental impact.” Robert Coomer is a charter member of the Rockcastle Karst Conservancy, an organization to help protect caves and provide cave education in the Rockcastle County area of Kentucky.

If you would like to see more of Robert’s images, visit his website at . His prints can be seen and purchased and Row House Gallery in Milford, the Pendleton Art Gallery at Newport on the Levee, or online at On Final Fridays, Robert, his wife Tabka, and their partner Andrea Becker, run CoBe Gallery on the third floor of the Pendleton Art Center.

For more information on caves and caving, visit the NSS website, or the Greater Cincinnati Grotto’s website, To learn more about cave conservation, visit