By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Photographer Amy Hinkle had to balance on a precarious slippy ledge inside the deep cave in order to capture these spectacular shots
Plunged into the darkness surrounded by a spectacular shaft of light, these stunning pictures show daredevil explorers lowering themselves into a deep cave on the abseiling trip of a lifetime.
The amazing photographs appear to show abseilers hanging by a thread as they descend into Stephen's Gap - a geological wonder in Alabama, USA.
Daredevil photographer Amy Hinkle had to be strapped up in safety gear as she balanced on a slippy ledge inside the cave to capture the images.
Going deeper underground: Abseiller Brian Stoltz lowers himself downwards into Stephen's Gap as a spectacular beam of light surrounds him in Alabama
Amy, from Chicago, said: 'I have been a caver for over two years and enjoyed photography for much longer. Getting photos in the underground world is entirely different, however.
'There is no light but what you bring with you, except near entrances, of course, where you get some sunlight.
'I have worked hard to develop techniques to bring light to these pitch-black underground systems without the use of massive amounts of equipment.
Following the light: Climbers rappel downwards into the gloom of Stephen's Gap on what would be an unforgettable experience for any adventurer
'My photo gear fits into the size of two hands cupped together, weighs less than three pounds, and cost under $200. I enjoy challenges like this which combine my scientific and artistic backgrounds.'
Stephen's Gap is a solution cave, formed by water carving away at the limestone rocks ages ago.
As changes slowly occur over a geological timescale, entrances may appear by means such as surface collapse - when the remaining rock can no longer support the surface, like when sinkholes occur - or sometimes where water once entered - becomes a dry streamed that is humanly passable into the cave.
Spectacular sight: The descents into Stephen's Gap feature several stunning shards of light shining through the gloom to the unsettling drops below
Amy added: ''I saw a rainbow on my first trip to Stephen's Gap over a year ago, so I knew it occurred, and planned to take some pictures.
'However, I did not expect the rays to be so clear and the rainbows so bright! The cool air from the cave hitting the hot outside air - which was about 35 degrees centigrade - produced that amazing fog layer which distributed the natural light perfectly.
Don't look down: An abseiller atkes a moment to capture the wonderful rainbow of colour from the beam of light inside Stephen's Gap
'Caving can be very dangerous for the unprepared, and most of the people in my caving group, who I took the shots of, are also members of cave rescue teams.
'There is a rock formation known as 'the pedestal' midway down the rappel. I decided to take a break and rest here while I watched the rays and shot some photos.
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER