Moving on from my last post about a modern city, we now move on to one of the world’s most ancient temples – the UNESCO world heritage site of Borobudur, Indonesia. Even after a volcano covered the site in ash, terrorists tried to blow it up and the hordes of tourists received on a daily basis, Borobudur is still truly spectacular. Surrounded by rice paddies and forests, this Buddhist temple never fails to impress.


A lot of people who come here only visit as part of a group tour, seeing the temple during daylight hours only, but in my opinion it looks its best at sunset and late at night, thanks to the spotlights which now illuminate it. I decided to stay in the village near to the temple for a few nights and really explore the sights in my own time, plus I am a self confessed perfectionist and I wanted everything to be just right (including only shooting when the light is at its best).


Not one to normally join a tour, I had no choice when it came to the pre-dawn shoot I had planned. So armed with my camera and tripod, I set off at 3am to explore the upper levels of the temple. Now for those of us who are not used to total darkness, this trip will certainly be an eye opener! With only a small flashlight, you make your way slowly up the seemingly never ending steps, right to the top. Once there, the flashlights go away and you truly get to appreciate how dark the night can be and also how quiet this place is before the big tour buses arrive. Shooting in this situation is a little trickier than normal and each shot, assuming that you use a low ISO, takes around 1 minute! The second photograph included in this post is from this tour; the illumination of the statue closest to me came from turning my flashlight on and off whilst “painting” it with light. I felt the shot needed this as without it; it would have simply been shadows.


The first photograph shown was taken from a viewpoint located about 30 minutes drive away from the small town which has grown around Borobudur. Again surrounded by the darkness I sat and waited for the mist to roll in and for the warm light of the sun to filter through. The viewpoint features quite highly on most guesthouse tour boards and so it’s very easy to get to, but be warned, it is a small opening in the forest and so wear a lot of mosquito repellent!


If you have any questions about the settings used to take these photographs or would simply like to know more about the location, please leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible.


Kimberley Coole

About the author: currently based in the UK, Kimberley Coole is available for assignment or commission both locally and internationally, specialising in travel photography. Kimberley was chosen as a Travel Photographer of the Year 2012 finalist and received a commendation from the judging panel. Her photographs are represented exclusively by the world’s leading stock photography agency, Getty Images, and have been featured in numerous publications. 
This is her website

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