The Prophecy of Borobudur – Photoshop Step by step tutorial

By on 16 June 2009

Introduction to Borobudur Photo – Step by step tutorial

This picture is taken from my Flickr account entitled “The Prohecy of Borobudur“. I have decided to write a step by step tutorial on how to convert your normal photo into a majestic artistic one.

Step 1 – Merging the original pictures

The original photo consist of 3 pictures and was taken 3 years ago in Borobudur, Indonesia. As I wanted to have a bigger picture clarity, I chose to take it in vertical format and shot 3 frames. The camera used was Olympus C-5050 at ISO 200, F 5.6 and 1/500.

There are many available panaroma photo merging software available but for this photo I simply used the one from Photoshop.

Step 2 – Clean it up!

After the stitching part is done, is now come to the dirty work . Despite how accurate the joint is, normally we still have to clean up the minor joint details that can only be seen by our naked eyes. Clone stamp is used here to do this job. In the below image description you can see an example of an imperfect joint (yes, it looks perfect from far, but not near) . Also at this stage I cleaned all the unwanted details such as the person that was captured in the photo. It is nice to have some realistic people in photo, but for this shot I wanted to to focus more on the remarkable structures and stupas.

Step 3 – Fire up the Forest!

This photo was taken around 10am in the morning and sun was really bright . The sun position was in front of me;on the upper left of the photo frame (see the shadow). My location was almost at the peak of the stupas and there was no other mountain or any higher structure blocking the sun light. As such the detail of the forest side was and the stupas was not so clear. The sun glare was exposing the sky and clouds area. What I needed to do was to split the image into 3 parts (stupas, forest and sky) and enhanced its colour and contrast

I started by duplicating the merged photo layer and started to highlight the details using Dodge and Burn tools. Be careful not to over or under exposed them. Once I am satisified with them, I erased the unwated part (sky and stupa) ; at this stage I only focus on the forest part. This layer was later changed to Linear Dodge. The purpose of Linear Dodge is to increase brightness to lighten the base color and reflect the blend color. See here for more info on Linear Dodge.


Step 4 – Ready? Lights on!

There was a mistake that I did in this photo. I should have used the flash in order to fill up the harsh shadow on the stupas. Anyway, this is the things which I have learned for my future photography holiday trip. :)

Next in this step, I split and removed the sky part (as mentioned on Step 3). Again I used Linear Dodge to enhance the dark spots. If you notice, I included the forest area again as it was still to dark.

Step 5 – Blue Blue Sky…

Normally when we take outdoor pictures there is a high tendency that the sky will be over-exposed. This happens when the camera focuses the exposure of the main object but not the sky background. As a result washing away the rich sky colour and most of the details in the clouds.

In this step, Step 2 is repeated on the sky part. Make a duplicate of the merged picture layer, increase the colour vibrant colour (by using Dodge/Burn Tool) and erase any unwated details. For this layer I used Linear Burn, this gives the opposite effect of Linear Dodge. It increases contrast and decreases brightness. See here for more info on Linear Burn.

Step 6 – Set the Mood

This is the part which I enjoy the most – setting up the mood for this photo. I wanted to give the old school effect and for that this is what I did.

1. The colour of old film type photograph will run out with time due to its chemical reaction. Pictures will start to lose its colour vibrancy. At this stage, I need to reduce the saturation of the colour by  duplicating another layer and use Gradient Map Tool over the image. The purpose of Gradient Map Tool is to change the colour tone of the picture.

2. Duplicated a layer and changed the colour tone  with  yellow orang and dark blue, to adjust the colour hue.

3. Duplicated a layer and changed the colour with dark blue orange (Colour Blending Mode Layer to neutral blend colours and desaturate the base colour. See her for more Colour Blending Mode)

The above picture effect  could be achieved easily with with Adobe Lightroom. It has many available presets on the net which will help to increase productivity process tremendously.

Step 7 – Frame it up

Almost done… I just to add one more layer. This layer which I called it ‘Dark Frame’ is to darken the the four corners of the photograph. Using the Darken effect to make a Vignetting effect Darken the layer to enhanced its opacity.


It was fun editing this picture which later gave me an idea to write a fiction story (I will post it in later day).

No special third party filters or post-processing was used during the process. There were many trial and error during the actual process but after all that is part of parcel of learning. This photo has been featured in Heritage Key Website.

Reader's top 10 incoming search terms:

gambar borobudur, gambar vignet, borobudur photography, borobudur vector

About f3nd1


  1. kenneth montegrande

    17 June 2009 at 4:26 pm

    it was really nice to hear some tips coming from the experts like you…hehehe, i really enjoyed reading your tips. actually, i want to do those thing also co’z me too i love to take a pictures then put some effects just like what you did. problem is, i think its too hard too do that. hehehe. hope to hear more tips from you.

  2. GuruShare

    19 June 2009 at 3:06 am

    This is a really great tutorial and thank you for creating it. If you feel like creating a video of this tutorial we have a $1000 USD contest running for the best video tutorial. We are a social learning network and we would love to have great work like this displayed for everyone to learn from. Check us out @, but regardless, thank you again for a solid tutorial.

  3. Mindgamez

    5 July 2009 at 2:57 am

    Not to be a bitch.. but there are easier ways of doing what you just did. Ala: After photomerge, Clone stamp, and then Brightness/contrast the whole picture, color filter it, adjust the levels, and then saturate it to the desired effect. And Walah!

    Mindgamez is a design instructor at a technical College far far away..

    P.S. Good tutorial anyway.

  4. f3nd1

    5 July 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Hi @Mindgamez, is not that straight forward because there are 3 objects in the photo (sky, stupa and the forest area).
    Hmm… maybe you could show me your method to improve the whole process..

  5. yaya

    3 September 2009 at 3:13 am

    We are Master students of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.
    We are doing a research about Heritage in Yogyakarta, center of Java. We choose Borobudur and Prambanan to survey how heritage impacted or merged in tourism sites in Indonesia.
    And we really need your opinions about those two heritages so we could try our best to improve the tourism in heritage sites.
    Thank you for your help!!  Thank you very much!!!
    My e-mail: [email protected]

    The Questionnaire address:

    Best regard.

    All of Students of Graduate Institute of Architecture and Historic Preservation.

  6. Schedule

    30 October 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Maybe you could change the post name title Borobudur Photo – Step by step tutorial | to more specific for your webpage you write. I loved the post nevertheless.

  7. f3nd1

    31 October 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Thank you for the compliment and advice. I will change the title accordingly.

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