niah caves in the fog (borneo)


A beautiful natural cave in the Niah National Park (Borneo).­

This is the entrance of the Great Cave, which is very large with huge chambers, up to 75m high, and a network of tunnels covering 10 hectares.­

This is a tone-mapped HDR (High Dynamic Range) image obtained from 4 bracketed exposures.­

Color version. Which one do you prefer?

backlight cave formations cave mouth caving concretions fog hazy jungle misty natural cave niah caves rain forest speleothems spelunking stalactites

Photos processed in True Tone HDR.­

Those are High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos processed to represent the scene as observed by the human eye, i.­e.­ without some of the surreal effects that can be obtained with "heavy" tone mapping of HDR images.­

See also related series: HDR Photography (High Dynamic Range).

I sometimes do HDR processing from a single RAW exposure, since my camera has about 6-stop dynamic range in RAW mode.­ This is the only possible way to do HDR when shooting a moving subject.­

For those wondering about the technical part, here is some information about my workflow for producing tone-mapped HDR images from a single RAW exposure:

- The RAW image is used to generate 3 images using exposure compensation with Photoshop using Adobe Camera Raw: -2EV, 0EV and +2EV.­ This allows to capture about the entire dynamic range stored in the RAW file.­ You could also use Lightroom to do that too, or any software than can process those RAW files.­ In my case, I need to first convert the RAW files into DNG format (using the standalone Adobe CameraRaw Converter) because the version of Camera Raw that I can use with my Photoshop is not compatible with the RAW format of my (recent) camera.­ But you don't need to go through the DNG step if you have the latest Adobe software.­

- The 3 images (-2EV, 0EV and +2EV) are then merged into one HDR image using Photomatix (you could also use Photoshop to do that).­ This is basically an automatic process with no parameters to adjust.­

- The HDR image is then processed with Tone Mapping to obtain a displayable image.­ I use Photomatix for the tone mapping.­ There are many knobs that can be adjusted, but in general, to get a True Tone realistic image, I use 25% to 50% intensity in the Tone Mapping dialog.­ I then save the resulting tone-mapped image in TIFF format.­

- If needed, I then correct Chromatic Aberrations using the free and automatic Photoshop plugin from Photoacute, which works very well most of the times.­

- I then use standard Photoshop layers to do the usual final adjustments (Level, Curve, Saturation, Color Balance).­

Photos of the beautiful natural caves in the Niah National Park (Borneo).­

The Great Cave is very large with huge chambers, up to 75m high, and a network of tunnels covering 10 hectares.­ The Niah caves contain archaeological artifacts including boat-shaped coffins, wall paintings and human remains.­

For more information about Niah National Park, read en.­wikipedia.­org/­wiki/­Niah_­National_­Park

Niah can be reached from the town of Miri in the North of Sarawak.­ A visit to the caves is complicated and takes a lot of time, due to the lack of easy transportation to the site.­ Some day I'll write about this adventure, and what I saw in the caves.­ Stay tuned!

If you like those photos, join me on facebook and don't hesitate to leave a comment or email me.

Photos taken in the Malaysian states of Borneo island (Sarawak and Sabah).­