Flooded Cave Entrance

Here’s a scene I’ve been working on. I
I want it to look photorealistic but to me at least, it isn’t completely there. Any help with this (or anything else) is appreciated.


There are clouds in the sky, try to add shadow from them.

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Typically the smaller I make the image the more photo-realistic it gets, but, it’s not happening for me with this image. I think it has something to do with the fog in the background.

What reference images are you consulting?

That’s a good point, I don’t see it improve either when made smaller.

The scene was made from a rough sketch of the layout so there aren’t any specific photos that match this one closely. It does however take inspiration from real caves and cenotes which there are many images of.

I tried making a few other tests to see if anything would improve.

No volumetrics

Adjusted the hdri used for lighting

Removed the tree from the above image

Swapped out the hdri with a different one (overcast) to see how the scene will look


A couple of things will help:

  • Focus: it seems the close up rocks are too sharp. If the focus is on the tree, then other too close or too far objects should be out of focus and become blurry.
  • Color: during daylight, the sun is a little yellowish in color, and it’s shadow is a little purpleish (the complementary color), but in your scene there is too much washed out white and not enough colors.

What does it look like with nishita sky texture? Adjust the exposure in color management, not the sky strength.

also try just a little fog with light rays

I featured you on BlenderNation, have a great weekend!

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I’ve been doing that for all of the previous renders above.

for inspiration in sence of lighting

You can spend as much time on stuff like this as you wish to. I don’t see too much difference at first glance. I do think that the “volumetrics” in the original shot produced “student murk,” but in the shot where you removed it the area now became too dark – too close to “opaque black.” When you made the HDRI adjustment it did get better although there’s still “opaque” around those waterfalls.

Beautiful! This is already very photorealistic. Try adding more foreground elements.

imma not an expert myself but we looking at bright tree under sunlight and bright sky from a cave where no other ligh but sky. i feel like cave part should be darkier

to me, the light setup of the second and third images is OK.
Just separate the sky(if it’s HDRI) by light path - camera ray and make it stronger (without changing anything else) (more contrast and color) or in any other ways.