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.
Critiques | Translate
ben4321 (9875) 2009-01-25 9:02
I visited Borobudur back in '95, although not so early in the morning! I shared the place with several coach-loads of Indonesian school children who all wanted to take photos of me, for some reason.
The place looks spectacular in the dawn light, especially the background which is very atmospheric with that mist.
It looks to me like you did some work to lighten the foreground though, and I reckon you overdid it a bit - it looks a bit unnatural.
Other than that - a great shot David.
janusz2054 (2) 2009-01-25 9:06
Perfect composition of the beautiful Borobudur temple.Lovely and interesting image.
PixelTerror (0) 2009-01-25 9:13
This is the kind of hdr I like because it is not exagerated, however it adds a lot to the visual impact of your image in revealing better the textures of the old stones and this spectacular spreading of the warmth, great timing.
Have a nice day JY
pauloog (11751) 2009-01-25 9:18
You were rewarded for your early rise and your photowork. I have seen many HDR photos and find them mostly very artificial. And this was my first reaction too when I saw the orange glow. Good you posted the workshop and the comment that colours are real.
A great photo indeed, well composed with astonishing colours and contrasts, and interesting too.
Sistercosmo (242) 2009-01-25 9:20
it takes some talent to get a hdr image to look this natural. Well done! It certainly is more striking than the WS photo.
The pov you've chosen is very nice and the stupas are shown in great detail. Excellent shot!
Thanks and take care,
gracious (20025) 2009-01-25 9:27
Thank you for sharing such a awesome image of the great place!
the sunrise truly incredible with it's beauty over the place with the beautiful colouration! I loved it very much!
my warmest regards
Wandering_Dan (3449) 2009-01-25 9:31
Hi, David -
I'm not opposed to HDR at all, but it seems to me in this photo it may have been overdone; it's not just the oversaturated green, but the fg stupas ought to be more shadowed, given the direction and strength of the sunlight. I took your original 1/8 sec shot and did a small WS; perhaps the sub colors could be stronger, but you get the idea.
Kudos for getting up at 4 AM! That's the only way to do it.
PS: The image here looks noisy. But when I checked the original (as copied at 72 ppi), Noiseware said the noise was very low, so that might be another side effect of the HDR.
PaulVDV (29143) 2009-01-25 11:16
Very good capture of these stupas and the surrounding nature. Concerning the surroundings I have a little preference for the picture # 1 in the workshop. But the stupas are better on the main picture.
Best regards, Paul
Floydian (30970) 2009-01-25 13:48
It's perhaps the only way to show all the beauty here in a HDR exposure although i'm not really fond of the technique myself. The bells in the foreground are just a bit too much (i like Dan his ws), but else it sure looks great with that fantastic light in the sky.
4.00 am, that's my man..!!! ;-)
The right attitude for taking pictures before the busloads arrive.
chinvinsen (21) 2009-01-26 0:55
I think the stupas may still have looked ok as darker silhouettes. Now they look a bit light and a bit "out of lighting theme" with the rest of the picture. Good work on the early rise though, the sunlight coming through just between the horizon and the thick cloud layer is probably the toughest timing to catch.
Miha2ou7 (5162) 2009-01-26 2:17
Its a great photo, but I have to say I like the un-HDR version better. The colors are less saturated and the image seams more real. In any case, both are good because of the motive and the lovely lighting/color conditions there. The way that the human constructs interact with the splendorous nature in the background is just great. Thanks for sharing.
ktanska (27844) 2009-01-26 3:43
Sunrise on such a place must be unforgettable. Amazing how those structures have stand time through centuries. I think Dan has good balance on brightness on the foreground details in his WS. But the orange sky is no doubt better on this main post.
cam (9043) 2009-01-27 19:18
Courageous DAn who gets up at 4 o,clock for a mornng shot, you beat me by a far margin as sunrise is at a decent 7 o'clock here in winter.
HDR has its place in situation just like here, where a ND grad filter will just not work. So a useful instrument, that is easy to overdo with.I still have to play with it.
It was well worth getting up that early.
plimrn (21344) 2009-01-27 20:29
How nice to see you back!!. Your HDR work is truly magical, it really recreates the light flare of a misty dawn. While the original is quite good, you're right, it just doesn't have the same impact as this one.
- 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, Workshop
- Date Submitted: 2009-01-25 8:52