Sunrise at Borobudur Indonesia's most popular tourist attraction can be quite spectacular in the rainy season when there is cloud in the sky and morning mist in the valleys.
This is an image created with three exposures using HDR software. If you don't like HDR images, then please have a look in the Workshop where you will find the same shot with minimal PP but unfortunately doesn't convey the splendour of these few moments after sunrise as well as this HDR image does.
I am not a great fan of HDR imaging myself (so please don't berate me for posting this) but it was the best way that I could show you the detail of the stupas in the foreground as well as the beautiful orange flare that appeared in the valley for a few seconds after the sun appeared over the horizon.
The workshop image had an exposure time of 1/8th sec whilst the three exposures used to create this HDR image had exposure times of 1/20th, 1/10th and 1/6th sec. They were all shot in RAW at ISO-200 at f/8. The intense orange colour comes from the 1/20th exposure and is 'real'. The only part of the HDR that is a little unreal are the over-saturated greens but if you have a look at the 'real' Workshop post, you will see that HDR processing hasn't exaggerated it as much as would first appear.
Borobudur is a complex of Buddhist stupas that date back to the ninth century. It is about an hour from Yogyakarta in central Java and from the top of Borobudur you can see three large volcanoes which look spectacular in the early morning light (I will post a photograph of one of those later).
Borodudur is visited by over two million people a year, so if you want to photograph it without hundreds of tourists in shot, you have to go there before sunrise and buy a special pre-dawn entry ticket (the morning I was there about 30-40 people had done the same, but most sit up on the top stupa to watch the sunrise, so they don't get in the way of the serious photographers).
After 6.00 am when the gates open to the public, the visitors start streaming in, and by 8.00 am they are swarming over the stupas like ants on a nest.
If you want to see what Borobudur looks like later in the day, you can check out these photos on my blog. You will then be convinced that rising at 4.00 am is the ONLY way to get a good photograph of Borobudur.
REPOST: Following a number of early comments on the original post that the stupas were too light - and therefore 'unnatural' looking in the early morning light (which in hindsight I have to agree with) I have reprocessed this image to leave the stupas darker, but still light enough to see the detail. I think the repost looks more natural.
Critiques | Translate
pedru (1659) 2009-01-26 5:47
tres belle photo
une lumiere agreable
smarcell (19965) 2009-01-26 5:57
A very eye catching picture. You technique is really good.
The golden light going into the picture from the left is great.
It gives a very magic atmosphere
scrubs (229) 2009-01-26 6:21
Simply fabulous !
It's like if the forest was burning. Besides, I really love the mix of blue, orange and green colours.
DanielPedersen (42) 2009-01-26 7:52
Didi (60590) 2009-01-26 16:33
Very strange and mysterious place.
Well done for your HDR use; it's not excessive.
I make sometimes HDR view with a stitch of several pictures without using the over exposed images; it's a different way.
TGULUMSER (13252) 2009-01-27 8:10
A very interesting, impressive place. You reflected the beauty and the atmosphere very well. The HDR work is really nice and you are right it is better than the WS. The colors are magical and I liked them a lot,
berek (50506) 2009-01-27 12:49
so interesting place with magic light. well framed picture. have a nice day.
stego (24132) 2009-01-27 15:28
It's nice to see you coming back after a long absence. And I see you do it in a great way!
The place is magical by itself, but with that light it looks even more stunning. If I had taken this one, I would hesitate cutting the FG stupa fearing that it wouldn't result compo wise, but actually it was very wise, as the visual arrangement of the stupas is very pleasing.
While I don't like the "true HDR appearance" we see in some photos, I have nothing against the use of that technique to overcome the limited latitude of the sensors, that don't match our eyes. As a matter of fact, I don't use it more often because it is frequent that I can't avoid the unnatural appearance or hallos. The less "natural" thing in this photo is the light, as it is so heavenly and that, of course, it isn't a flaw, but one of the charms of the image. The darker areas, namely the stupas, look quite natural, so I think you did a flawless job in PP. I dare saying the same about the original post, although I prefer this version.
pboehringer (770) 2009-01-28 10:44
I see that we got now a very similar equipment. Have you ever used the 28-70mm? Is there a real benefit in having the 24-70mm? I never tried both and just by the weight that I have with my equipment I thing that the 28-70mm might be the better option due to its lighter weight. How long do you have your D700? Satisfied? I am sure that the new processor of this machine contributes in part for this image even if most of it is gained through the HDR. I must say that your PP looks very convincing and natural. The ornage hues in the background are a real delight and well balanced with the stupas in the foreground.
ryno (6865) 2009-01-28 23:33
Hi David, I'm no expert on HDR photography, but all I know is that this is a beautiful image with a magical quality of light. Great sharpness and definition help to highlight the contrast in colour and texture of the individula stones/bricks. Excellent work!
bukitgolfb301 (44295) 2009-01-29 2:57
Actually I have already been there more than 5 times, already took around 500 shoots or more, but I could not get splendid one like this. Congratulation on your great job !!!
Many thanks and best regards
keribar (43841) 2009-01-29 8:01
You are one of the lucky ones who were able to attend this unique sunrise: You were really lucky to find this light but I would put more than half of theh credit to the photographer. I am pleased to find out that you used the 24-70; most people seem very happy about its sharpness, nevertheless I wonder if you had other shots with wider lenses ? By the way I appreciate the 3 exposures. OK.
Friendly yours - Izzet Keribar
kensimage (8565) 2009-01-30 0:05
I think the repost looks great, David. The stupas are dark, yet very vivid. The yellow in the distance seems a bit oversaturated (though maybe it really looked like that, in which case the God of the Sun needs to tone down the saturation), but the overall look is quite nice. The exotic tropical feel is very strong. You sure get to a lot of fascinating places. Glad to see you're posting again! Regards, Ken.
jhm (157932) 2009-01-30 4:30
Lovely and very interesting, good note too.
This is an oasis in background.
Splendid picture, sharpness and clarity are superb.
Also a wonderful presentation. TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
sevy (58) 2009-02-01 23:51
First I was a little surprize by the rendering of the light in this photo. Then I read the note and saw you used hdr. Usually I am not fan of this because the people are turning too much the buttons, but I recognize that here it is well managed. The effect is not so visible at first glance. It is providing a kind of dream like effect I find interesting.
Nice the piece of golden clouds in middle background which is between the grey area of the foreground and the ones of the clouds.
kschanna (6) 2009-02-03 4:23
An interesting shot with a well chosen pov and technique.
thanks for sharing
edytungkal (4551) 2009-02-03 23:49
Its amazing to see the beautiful colours on background and created a nice combination between the stupas. Well done David and thanks for showing this wonderful picture.
John_F_Kennedy (43763) 2009-02-05 4:44
Really interesting photo with not typical colours. The composition is also great and the framing is superb. Well done.
macondo (19780) 2009-02-05 18:12
I think using the HDR was a good idea in this case, although it's something I haven't really tried yet, and there are many rather contrived looking HDR shots around. I do use layer maks in Photoshop but that isn't quite as effective. You have stunning colours here and fantastic detail in the stupas. I must admit, though, your original shot as shown in the WS is not a bad one, all things considered. Thanks for your great note. It's 30 years since I visited Borobudur.
magohp (11) 2009-02-06 2:30
such good colours!
ruisc_pt (11090) 2009-02-08 5:16
Interesting scenario with a misty ambiance.
The composition is superb.
Charo (51212) 2009-02-09 12:01
Magical place full of mysticism. Excellent contrast with the wonderful colors of the dawn light and mist. Great composition with very attractive. Bravo!
Philippe (11836) 2009-02-09 12:28
Hi, David. The result you've achieved with your HDR treatment is really good. Only that kind of processing can give a fairly good idea of what light is like in conditions as the ones you had to face. The foreground is imposing, but the light on the left side is magical and is undoubtedly one of the eye-catchers in the picture. The white buildings in the background are also very well positioned in the composition.
Have a ice evening,
pablominto (53746) 2009-03-02 3:58
The light plays so nicely with the haze in a distance..!
The presentation is well composed, and I admire the fine feeling of depth........
Good details, the colours are well reproduced!
batalay (39953) 2009-03-05 4:18
The photograph is excellent! There is a somewhat unnatural orange glow which you note also, but the stonework as natural as the eye would see it in distinction to the way the camera responds (seen in the ws). Your note is surpassing, intelligent, incisive and just good photographic literature.
kevinos (7517) 2009-03-16 5:44
This is a fine image of one of the places that I most want tovisit, David.The strong pattern of the stupas looks fine against the atmospheric background. You have exploited the rainy weather well.You report of the technical details of your processing is sxceptionally interesting and useful regards Kevin
adores (46305) 2009-03-28 17:16
This is really a place I want to visit! Great moment to shoot it, the golden light in background is magical.I guess you did a good job, I like the effect. The pov was very well choosen also.
belido (19934) 2009-04-04 4:22
this photo has a powerful graphical apealing. The HDR revealed nice textures of the stupas and enhanced the colors of the fog in the background. I also foind this version better than the one in the ws. Very fine work!
Tempodulu (168) 2009-07-17 3:29
There is nothing wrong with HDR provided that it is used carefully as you have done so in this nice shot.
ChrisJ (117199) 2009-08-10 6:02
Hello David & good to see you posting again!
I've been here in 1990. Superb early morning lighting, with good sharpness, sunrise colours on the mist, & a marvellous pov. Borobodur is a wonderful Buddhist temple. I also liked Prambanan. Tfs!
mkamionka (39533) 2012-03-29 10:32
I have seen recently a very similar photo on the cover of a photo album.
This is a stunning work. No words to give it a justice.
We like indeed to photograph similar landscapes, it is just that I don't have that many of them in my collection :)
Incredible colors. Fantastic effect of the fog.
- Copyright: David Astley (banyanman) (7789)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2008-12-26
- Categories: Ruins, Decisive Moment
- Camera: Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
- Exposure: f/8
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- Photo Version: Final Version, Original Version
- Theme(s): Blogger slideshow [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2009-01-26 4:46
- Favorites: 3 [view]