mulu pinnacles (borneo)


The Pinnacles on Gunung Api mountain in Gunung Mulu National Park (Borneo Island)

The Mulu Pinnacles are Karstic rock formations in the shape of huge vertical sharp blades up to about 50 m (150 feet) high, in a remote rain forest over Gunung Api mountain.­ The Pinnacles were formed by erosion of the Karstic limestone rock forming the mountain.­

Photo processed in True Tone HDR with Tone Mapping from a single RAW exposure.­

erosion geology gunung mulu national park jungle karst karstic limestone pinnacles rain forest rock stone
Marudi, Sarawak, Malaysia

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 taken in Gunung Mulu National Park (Borneo).­

For more information about Gunung Mulu National Park, read en.­wikipedia.­org/­wiki/­Gunung_­Mulu_­National_­Park

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

Photos taken during the 3-day trek to the Pinnacles, a unique Karstic rock formation in Gunung Mulu National Park (Borneo Island).­

The Mulu Pinnacles are Karstic rock formations in the shape of huge vertical sharp blades up to about 50 m (150 feet) high, in a remote rain forest over Gunung Api mountain.­ The Pinnacles were formed by erosion of the Karstic limestone rock forming the mountain.­

The climb to the Pinnacles was the toughest day-hike I ever did at the time - but that was before I climbed the Semeru volcano in Java!

The 2.­4 Km (1.­5 Miles) trail from Camp 5 to the Pinnacles overview point is extremely steep from beginning to end (1,200 meter /­ 4,000 feet elevation).­ The last couple of hundred meters of the trail is a steep via ferrata with 15 ladders bolted to the rocks and knotted ropes.­ It does not require any technical climbing skills, but the tropical climate (hot temperature and extreme humidity), and the tricky terrain (slippery, muddy, sharp rocks, very steep) and the lack of water (each person must carry 3 to 4 liters of water on the way up) makes the climb very tough and possibly dangerous.­ Many people get injured on this trail every year, and evacuation is not simple as the Pinnacles are located in a rain forest wilderness with no road or boat access.­

The jungle trail between the Melinau river drop-off and Camp 5 is about 8 Km (5 miles).­ It is flat and well marked, and goes through a pristine rain forest.­

The trek to reach the Pinnacles (and back) from the Park headquarters takes 3 days, with 2 nights at Camp 5, located at the base of the trail to the Pinnacles.­

For more information about the Mulu Pinnacles, go to:
- www.­malaysiasite.­nl/­pinnacleseng.­htm
- Official Gunung Mulu National Park website

More photos of Gunung Mulu National Park

More photos of Borneo