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Batu Cave – The Before & After

Batu Cave, locate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is a sacred place of Hindu shrine that worship Hindu deity Lord Murugan. During every year Thaipusam Festival, over millions of Hindus from local and all around the world will gather here for the celebration dedicated to the Lord Murugan. A procession begins in the wee hours of the morning from the Sri Mahamariamman Temple leading up to Batu Caves as a religious undertaking to Lord Muruga lasting eight hours. Devotees will carry carry containers containing milk as offering to Lord Murugan either by hand or in huge decorated carriers on their shoulders called ‘kavadi’.


For those that interest in street portrait or culture photography, i would strongly recommend a visit to here during the Thaipusam Festival. However this post will cover more on photograph the Batu Cave itself instead of the Thaipusam Festival. 🙂

To reach the top of the Batu Cave, where our shooting spot is, we will have to climb 272 concrete steps with a lot of monkeys company us. And due to the place itself is one of the popular tourism spot, there will be a lot of tourist here, in this case, we will need deciding wisely on how should we compositing the photo to reduce the chances of tourist that might walk into our frame. Here are my setup for the shot.

Shooting Info:

ISO-100. f8 aperture at 16mm. Capturing 5 different exposures with shutter speed from 1/50 to 1/3s for the place itself.


ISO-800. f5 aperture at 16mm. With 1/640s shutter speed non stop continuous shooting for 2 hours whenever there are pigeons flying pass by. Which ended up i have around 200++ photos just for the pigeons! But from there, i only picked 5 pigeons with the best pose so that i can blend in them later.


The key editing here that i want to present, first is the dramatic light that came in from the top of the cave, and another one is the flying pigeons that flying around the light.

I start with using -1 exposure as the base photo and then using the -2 exposure to slightly recover highlight by blending in the overexposure part. Next i will adding in the pigeons carefully using masking, here i able to decide which pigeon i want, and what combination make the best pigeons formation (Or i should have make a V formation for pigeons! 😀 )

Pushing the photo more toward the cold tones, playing around with the contrast, curve, saturation and others usual editing flow, another thing i added is the vignette effect, you can see that i have apply a lot in the photo, this will make the highlight which is centre area more “pop”.

After that i finish the photo with sharpening.


(Behind the scene photo of the shooting place, we are all sitting on the pigeons’s poo! lol)

Please feel free to share this post if you enjoy reading it! :)

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