Tag Archives: Sydney Harbour

Milson’s Point View

A view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Milson’s Point at twilight.

Milson's Point View

Milson’s Point View

This year I have decided to make more of an effort to get out and shoot regularly.

For this most recent weeknight shoot (my third of 2017), I decided to re-visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which I rarely photograph any more.

The last time I captured a serious image here was in 2005!

So, here it is: the iconic bridge for which Sydney is famous.

2015 Retrospective: Intense and Focused

Now that we are well into the year 2016, it is time for a retrospective look at my photographic journey in 2015.

The year can be summarised as intense and focused, as the majority of images I captured during 2015 were in the Mara North Conservancy and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, where we embarked upon an incredible seven-day safari with our friend and safari leader Mario Moreno.

Looking at my statistics, I shot more images in 2015 than I did in the years 2013 and 2014 combined.

Had the Kenya trip not happened, I suspect I would not have shot much.

Photographically, my year started quite late — near the end of April — with a macro/still life image of a new watch I had been given:

Certina 1888

Certina 1888

We had some family in town from overseas, so I took the opportunity to shoot some cityscape images from a location at which I had not shot before.

One afternoon we headed to the Glebe apartment and I waited for the right light to capture some views of the beautiful city skyline.

This was the result:

Dusk Descendence

Dusk Descendence

And a little later, during blue hour:

The View Sucks

The View Sucks

I also took the opportunity to capture this tight view of the Anzac Bridge as twilight fell:

Anzac Bridge

Anzac Bridge

In May, we all had an outing at the Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbour.  I took a camera and a couple of lenses, but I did not shoot a great deal of images.

This image of a kangaroo was one of the more pleasing images I captured on the day:

One of Skippy's Mates

One of Skippy’s Mates

Later in the month, I felt compelled to head out and shoot another cityscape.

In the mid-to-late afternoon, I scouted for some vantage points along the western side of Circular Quay, and finally settled on the observation deck of the International Passenger Terminal, which affords a higher view, and additionally was empty and free from passers by.

I waited for the blue hour, and captured this view of Sydney which I have not seen (or photographed) before.

Circular Quay West

Circular Quay West

It had been a slow, but pleasing enough start to the year.

In June, the photography I had been eagerly anticipating since we booked the trip the previous year, would finally happen.

We headed to Kenya to spend seven days in the Mara North Conservancy and Maasai Mara National Reserve, where we would re-ignite our passion for wildlife and landscape photography.

So far I have published over 100 images from that trip, so I will not publish a great deal of those images in this article; but as the trip brought us a lot of first-time encounters, I will instead present some selected highlights from the trip.

We were based in the luxurious eco-lodge Elephant Pepper Camp, which afforded us total isolation and positioning right in the middle of where the action was.

This is a view of one of Elephant Pepper Camp‘s honeymoon/family tents:

Elephant Pepper Camp's Honeymoon Tent

Elephant Pepper Camp’s Honeymoon Tent

And this is a view of the camp at twilight, depicting the dining tent, lounge and camp fire:

Around the Camp Fire

Around the Camp Fire

Highlights of the trip included one of my finest bird images, which was my first frame of only two I snapped while this pied kingfisher was bobbing up and down in flight:

Suspended

Suspended

Just about every day, we were treated to lions — most prominently, the Cheli Pride.  One of the fantastic things about the Cheli Pride was its abundance of cubs, and on this trip, it was our first time seeing wild cubs, such as this cute little lion:

Lion Cub of the Cheli Pride

Lion Cub of the Cheli Pride

On one afternoon, we were fortunate enough to spend some time, in pleasing, afternoon light, in very close proximity to a lilac-breasted roller, where I captured this and a number of other images of the national bird of South Africa:

Plumage

Plumage

Naturally, a safari in Africa encompasses more than just wildlife — there are amazing opportunities for stunning, iconic landscape shots, and we certainly took advantage of that, rolling out into the plains in the pre-dawn darkness before other safari-goers were even awake.

This was one of my earlier landscape shots, captured during a moody morning:

The Moody Mara Plains

The Moody Mara Plains

On another morning, we captured the ‘postcard shot’ of a rising sun behind a lone acacia tree:

Sunrise on the Mara

Sunrise on the Mara

This particular tree is known as Mario‘s Tree, as Mario often photographs it.  We certainly did — several times — including one particular morning which greeted us with a colourful sky:

Lone Acacia

Lone Acacia

On only our second day on this trip, we were treated to a number of first-time encounters.  In the morning, we encountered our first Mara leopard, who was also also the first leopard we had seen in a tree; and in the evening we found our first male lion of the trip, again a member of the resident Cheli Pride.

We had gone back to Leopard Gorge to look for the young male cat, when we found a large, dominant male lion in the area instead.  If the leopard was around, he was hiding and would not be seen.

Here is the beautiful young male leopard perched high in an elephant pepper tree:

Leopard of the Day

Leopard of the Day

We not only encountered one male lion, but two!  His brother also emerged from the distance and joined him for some bonding and lazing before the night‘s hunting commenced.

Here is one of the stunning Cheli Pride males we encountered:

Surveying

Surveying

The day after we met the dominant males, we encountered numerous members of the pride, minus the males, feasting on a zebra kill the next afternoon.  This was another ‘first’ for us, as we had hitherto never seen lions feasting on a kill.  It was quite a sight, as this wider image shows:

Feast

Feast

The next day, we spent a dramatic afternoon with the Cheli Pride again, firstly as we encountered one of the mothers on her own, out in the open, calling for the pride.

Here is an image I captured of the lioness in the warm afternoon light:

Cheli Mother

Cheli Mother

Before long, a mighty rainstorm descended upon us, which made the big cat uncomfortable, as well as presenting challenges for us.  As the rain began to subside, camera shutters sounded like rapid gunfire as we captured action shots of the lioness shaking the water from her head.

Shake It Off

Shake It Off

Towards the end of the trip, we spent one day further south in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, where we experienced yet another first.

So far, the one species of African big cat we had never seen in the wild was the cheetah.  On that trip, we finally encountered wild cheetahs.  It was an exciting experience to firstly see them from a distance, and then drive to position ourselves optimally to be ahead of where they were headed.  It became more exciting as the cheetahs got closer, and I had a few opportunities to photograph the family, which consisted of a mother and four sub-adults.

Here is one of the nicer images I captured of these amazing big cats:

Portrait of a Young Cheetah

Portrait of a Young Cheetah

It had been a long wait, but finally we spent some time with wild cheetahs.

Our next morning in the Mara consisted of a portrait shoot with Maasai tribesman called Baba, with whom we travelled to Mario‘s Tree, where we shot some dramatic silhouette portraits of him as the sun rose on one of our final days in the Mara.

Here is one of the more striking images I captured during the session:

Baba the Maasai

Baba the Maasai

Our final evening in the Mara brought something we could have never predicted, and something which is quite rare to see: mating leopards!

At first, we spotted a young female leopard high in a tree during the warm afternoon light, but within a short time, a large, amourous male emerged from the thicket, and the two leopards began (or continued with) their ritual of rapid, exposive mating sessions, which can last for days.

We spent the rest of the drive witnessing this amazing sight, and the following image captures an intense moment as the female expresses her displeasure at the male’s advances:

Growl of the Leopardess

Growl of the Leopardess

The next morning was our final, somewhat subdued game drive in the Mara before we would fly back to Nairobi for a night and another day before departing Kenya.  We were fortunate to encounter a small pod of hippos in a watering hole, where I had the opportunity to capture some relatively close-proximity images, such as this large hippo on the bank, less than 30 metres away:

Hippo on the Bank

Hippo on the Bank

Before too long, this amazging photographic journey came to its conclusion.

After the intensity of our Mara trip, and my generally low photographic output before the trip, it was not surprising that I did not shoot much afterwards.  In fact, I shot only one more image for the remaining six months of the year!

The one image I did capture was a macro image of some red and orange roses to commemmorate our anniversary.

Fifth

Fifth

And so concludes my photographic journey for 2015.  It indeed was an intense and focused year, with Kenya dominating my photographic output, but with a few other images here and there.

Pleasant Dawn on Sydney Harbour

Since my return to seascaping last week, I have been keen to head back out at dawn to shoot more seascapes.

On the one hand, I failed; but on the other hand, I succeeded — at capturing a different kind of image at dawn.

Having checked the weather and cloud situation the night before, I knew the sky would be largely plain, which is terrible for seascapes, but great for twilight cityscapes.

So, in the pre-dawn darkness, I headed to the city and ventured further away from Circular Quay, where I had been the previous day, and where, I decided, I would be keen to capture a cityscape, depicting both the older and newer buildings of Sydney at dawn.

Here is one of the earlier images I captured:

Before Sydney Awakens

Before Sydney Awakens

It was great to be at Dawes Point on the harbour early in the morning before anyone else was out and about.

At the time, the sun had not risen, but there was a pink and orange glow in the eastern sky, which was due to rise 35 minutes later.

I also turned the camera around and pointed to the west, where the sky was darker, but where the increasing warmth and softness of the early morning light cast a pleasing glow on the wooden walkway and buildings along Campbell’s Cove.

Along the Walkway

Along the Walkway

This is a view along the walkway at the northern end of Campbell’s Cove.

On the left is Campbell’s Cove and the old woolsheds in Sydney‘s historic The Rocks, which these days contain restaurants.

In the distance is the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

On the right and in the distance central to the frame is the expensive and very nicely positioned Park Hyatt hotel.

One of the challenges presented when photographing a city like Sydney is to capture a less common view.  It’s all too easy to shoot the ‘postcard material’, but the city’s famous landmarks have been captured many times, and it’s difficult to depict a different or more interesting view of these, or of the city in general.

There are different views of the Sydney skyline, and this particular spot in Campbell’s Cove offers a view of the old and the new, and makes a change from the regular views we often see.

Later in the morning, I was treated to an unexpected and serendipitous sight of two large cruise ships making their way through the harbour.  The leading ship, Diamond Princess, docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal depicted in my earlier image; while the second ship — a P&O oceanliner — sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and docked at White Bay.

All in all, it was a nice, productive morning.

Capturing the City: Return to Action

During a time of holidays and some special times, my long-dormant urge to get out and capture images has thankfully risen to the surface, and the photographer’s itch has become pervasive.

I have been wanting to get out and shoot, and of late I have been more drawn towards cityscapes and architecture than any other subject matter.

On a rare mid-week session, I headed to Circular Quay, a very busy precinct which I haven’t photographed much for quite some years now.

In the mid-to-late afternoon, I scouted for some vantage points along the western side of the Quay, and finally settled on the observation deck of the International Passenger Terminal, which affords a higher view, and additionally was empty and free from passers by.

I waited for the blue hour, and captured this view of Sydney which I have not seen (or photographed) before.

Circular Quay West

Circular Quay West

My effort was worth it, and it was good to capture a view of the city not often seen, which I found surprising, as the International Passenger Terminal provides a good vantage point.  I’m sure other photographers have used it.

During my time scouting for a location, I had difficulty finding a pleasing composition.  I tried a few spots along the western side of the Quay, including the circular area seen at the centre of the image.

The problem I encountered there was that while the view was good, the tallest building in the scene (the darker skyscraper near the centre) wouldn’t fit into the image in landscape orientation (even with a 16mm lens), which is what I wanted for my image.

When I captured this image, it was my second visit to that particular spot.  The ideal location would have been right in the middle of the water, on an island, of course.  Unfortunately there isn’t such a location, so the view I captured was the most pleasing from the west side of the Quay.

An Unusual Greeting

This morning, I found myself immersed in a bizarre combination of three unusual circumstances:

  1. I went out for a dawn shoot.
  2. I wanted a plain sky.
  3. I photographed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Here is the image I shot:

Greetings from Sydney

Greetings from Sydney

These days, each of these factors on its own is quite rare.

Firstly, I seldom get time or motivation to head out at dawn.  With more or less three jobs, when I get time on the weekend, I look forward to not having to be anywhere, and rising at 3am and travelling somewhere for a dawn shoot is usually far from my mind.

Secondly, I cannot stand plain skies, and generally do not even shoot if there isn’t good cloud cover.  I keep an eye on weather and sky condition forecasts so I know whether or not it’s worth heading out. Apart from plain skies being very boring, the light is harsh and difficult to shoot, particularly when facing east.

Thirdly, I rarely shoot the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It’s a subject that has been shot to death by seemingly just about every photographer who lives in Sydney, or who has visited Sydney.  It generally bores me in the photographic sense, and apart from one aerial flight during which I captured it from the sky, this is the first time I’ve photographed the bridge in a good five years.

Because I haven’t been out for shoots much lately, and with my recent holiday period starting, I felt the itch, and wanted to take advantage of some free time before heading to London late this week.

My original plan was to head out on Monday night and shoot a twilight cityscape, but the weather forecast was for cloud and possible rain, and sure enough, the cloud rolled in and would have ironically spoiled the image I had in mind.

So, I decided to head out for a shoot on the following morning.

Inspired by an image captured by a contact of mine, I headed to Kirribilli, on the north shore of Sydney Harbour.

I had never visited this location, let alone shot from it.

I arrived nice and early, and captured a few images from my location during the morning blue hour before the light became dull and harsh.  Unusually for my morning shoots, I was facing south-south-west rather than eastward.

While this image is what I’d call a postcard shot (hence the title Greetings from Sydney) and terribly cliché, I felt the unusual desire to produce such an image, and I’m happy with the result.

High Above Sydney

This evening I had the opportunity to shoot images of Sydney at sunset and twilight from Centrepoint Tower — using my tripod.

As I understand it, tripods are not normally permitted, but one of the guys from the Flickr group FOCUS, of which I am a part, made arrangements so that 20 of us could take our tripods into the tower’s observation deck for proper photography.

I shot a small number of compositions, but this was the stand-out image from the session:

High Above Sydney

High Above Sydney

The shoot was somewhat challenging, both in terms of internal reflections off the glass, and throngs of tourists, but despite those challenges, I was able to land a fairly pleasing image.

It was great to get out with the FOCUS crew again and capture an image which normally would not have been possible.

 

Sydney Harbour from Above

This morning Xenedette and I took a very enjoyable seaplane flight over Sydney’s northern beaches (as well as Sydney Harbour) with Sydney Seaplanes, departing in a De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver Mk 1 (VH-AQU) from Rose Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Our flight path took us in a northerly direction along the northern beaches.  We banked sharply right around Barrenjoey Head and headed back south, banking right towards Sydney Harbour, where we banked left over the Sydney Harbour Bridge before heading back to Rose Bay.

The weather forecast for this weekend indicated dangerous swells along the coast.  Looking down over Turimetta and Canyon X (Warriewood) from an altitude of 1,600ft or so, it was clear that the coastline was copping a pounding and would have been dangerous territory for seascape photography.

Naturally I shot quite a few images and high-definition videos from the aircraft.

I’ve long since lost interest in shooting the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, but here is a somewhat cliché shot of both icons from an altitude of 1,000ft or thereabouts, looking south-west over the city (I was in the co-pilot’s seat).  An aerial view of Sydney Harbour is too good to miss, even if its two main attractions have been shot to death.

Sydney Harbour from Above

Sydney Harbour from Above