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How the magic is done - A painting of nature

Hardibudi (Jef Van den Houte) has enrichen the gallery with countless of beautiful photos from many different genre. Today he will tell us how he created one of his most appreciated photos; "Painting of nature".

NIKON D3s, Nikon 70-200 VRII, f/2.8L, 1/125s, ISO200


This image was taken in a place, named Situ Gunung. In the Indonesian language, "situ" means lake and "gunung" means mountain.

I wanted to take some photos there, showing the beauty and the tranquillity of the Indonesian landscapes. Driving and looking around, this place seemed perfect for what I was looking for. 
From other people, I got the hint that the best time for taking pictures there was around 7-9 AM.

Just after sunrise, the rising sun, shining trough the morning fog gives really a very beautiful light, rendering all the beauty of this landscape

The picture

I am using a NIKON D3s camera with a Nikon 70-200 VRII f/2.8 lens. It's a single hand held shot in RAW; no tripod was used.

EXIF data

⁃   Focal length 70 mm

⁃   ISO 200

⁃   Autofocus

⁃   Automatic White balance

⁃   Aperture f/4.5

⁃   Exposure time 1/125 sec

⁃   Metering centre weight average


I have been using Nikon NX 2 Capture and Photoshop CS 3, with the Nik Software Color Efex plug in.

To start, I opened the RAW file in 'NX 2 Capture'. I did some exposure optimization and  tone controls, using 8 color control points (6 at the background to give the image a more 3D look and 2 at the boat).

Then I opened the file in Photoshop CS3 and applied a 'curves adjustment'. I also sharpened the image slightly with 'unsharp mask' (20/20 settings)

The Nik Color Efex plug in was then used to apply a better color tone contrast across the image. This was done via the bi-color blue & yellow setting, creating a gradient of colder tones in the upper part of the image and warmer tones in the lower part

The opacity of it was then reduced to 50%, making the final tones and color settings


The light at that time of the day was very beautiful. It made a beautiful landscape a magic one. The processing only enhanced this. For me, this image summarizes perfectly the beautiful scenery of the Indonesian countryside.

It still is my most popular image on 1x and I am of course very happy with this appreciation


⁃   Look for the ideal light conditions. In my case the early morning light 'made' the image. If I would have    
     taken it in more harsh light conditions, it would have lost a lot of its magic.

⁃   Look for the right moment to take your picture, e.g. special composition or scenery.

⁃   Try to photograph also with your heart and try to catch moments of beauty and emotion.


Hardibudi resides in Jakarta, Indonesia. Professionally he is running a company, producing art glass. Photography has been a passion of his, since 5 years now. He describes it as: "It let's me express what I see and what I feel through my viewfinder".

Good work with hard work. Salute!