Photographing Vivid Sydney



Final day in Sydney – leaving the great city with a smile and some tears. Truth is I’d love to spend much more time here. I just got settled, have found my grove and the more I watch out the more exciting opportunities for photography I find.

But the schedule is relentless and the not less spectacular wonders of the 12 apostles are waiting in the wings.

Nonetheless, on this last evening Sydney presents itself from its most sensational side. Vivid Sydney, an open air lightning show, lights up all the big sights of city. There are also free concerts, internal food, theater and so on. It usually runs for three weeks during the Australian winter between May and June.

Of course from a photography perspective I was looking all week long forward to this. Given I had only this one night I had to shots in mind – two “money shots” – nothing too fancy, just something I can take home and look at in years to come and say: “wow, this was beautiful”.

A panorama from the Opera House side, spanning from Circular Key over the to the Harbour Bridge – I tested this on an earlier day during day time and I knew this was what  I wanted once everything is lit up. The image above is the result.

A second image I had in my mind, was the classic one: the Opera House. Now, during my days in Sydney I’ve got numerous shots of the Opera House. I like them. But to get the chance to get a photograph during the night with the projections on it – not a once a lifetime opportunity as such, but if you live normally on the other side of the world then it becomes a rare opportunity.

From an earlier walk I knew there is a little grass land right beneath the Harbour Bridge from where you get a prime view of the Opera. Armed with Tripod and 70-200mm lens I set up and captured the moment:


Hike to the Three Sisters



Another day dominated by the weather. Not so much by rain, though it lashed for a couple of hours yet a gain – however, while not pleasant, at least you can prepare for it.

What you can’t prepare for is fog. My hopes for getting a grand vista of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains were literally dissolved in the thickest layers of fog I can remember for quite some time.

The closer & the higher I got towards the Mountains the thicker the fog would become. So thick that it was impossible to get out of the first gear as there was simply nothing, and I means absolutely nothing to see in front.

Consternation. Irritation. Around the National Park Center those few people who made the effort to come up here looked baffled, unsure of what to do next. The great view everyone came for – not gonna happen.

I was here, though, and not prepared to give up. At least a small hike is always possible and with the camera in the bag maybe this would open up more intimate nature to shoot.

And so it did. As touched on in yesterday’s blog, it still holds true every single day: if you make the effort you’ll be rewarded more often than not.

For a brief moment fog gave way to unveil at least parts of the ‘Three Sisters’ and the valley – a brief window of opportunity to get the camera out and get a shot. I managed to find a composition with the fog framing one of these huge rocks with the valley covered in fog and clouds on the other site of the frame (feature image above).

Minutes later it was all gone and a thick mush of grey was back were it was before.

Sydney Rainbow



Battered by storm and rain for days, Sydney still manages to produce breathtaking beauty: a massive double rainbow stretches all the way from Harbour Bridge across the entire city centre.

Photographs like this, but even more so these moments witnessing it in flesh are the reward for being out there regardless of the weather. If you wanna see it you got to make the effort. You won’t get this on your couch in front of the TV.

In these days here in Sydney, where it has rarely stopped to rain and I got soaked multiple times since I arrived, it would have been easy to kick back, relax and enjoy coffee and cake in the one of the really nice coffee shops the city has to offer aplenty.

But there is more to life, isn’t it? So I get out there and soak up the beauty of this place, the visual riches that keep giving and giving particular for photography.

Though, I have to admit, that particular day when this shot was taken – Thursday – a couple of hours before I was slightly depleted. I sat in the train on the way to the city, and the rain was hammering against the windows again… or still? You know, when this is all you see and hear for days it can be a bit depressing. Particularly if you fly around the globe to see this particular city!

But you know what? The easy option would have been not to get out. To stay snuggled up home, and let the rain pass. The easy option would have not rewarded me with the breathtaking view of a double rainbow over the Harbour Bridge.

Lesson of the story? Get out shoot enjoy life and keeping shooting!

Mud Boys


What a day here in Sydney –my first day in the big city on the East Coast of Australia; a day literally drowned in rain! Since my arrival yesterday afternoon it has not stopped to rain. And more rain is expected over the next few day actually!

Now, that meant for today instead of the walking tour and ferry trip along the world renowned Harbour Bridge that I had in mind it had to be plan B:  the opportunity to visit local race track Canterbury Park!

A wise decision. Because even now writing nearly eight hours after leaving the racecourse the rain is still hammering against the roof of my house – it wasn’t different in the afternoon. Thunderstorms and torrential rain would have made it impossible to explore Sydney in any meaningful way.

Canterbury Park on the other hand has a roof, first class facilities, and is more or less down the road from where I’m based anyways.

That, however, doesn’t make photography any easier. Soon after the second race ended the sky went so dark one could have mistaken the day for the night.

For the rest of the day it’s very much bumping up the ISO, shooting from the comfort of the stand…. or not quite. Because there those few brave moments where jump out off safety, the camera in my right hand, keeping the hood in place over my head with the other hand while I press the shutter erratically  in the hope one of the compositions visualized beforehand get into the frame.


In the end it was a great test for the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 to show what the lens can do in circumstances like this – obviously in low light situation the Nikon D7100 tends to struggle, so I was concerned.

However after looking through the results I have to be impressed once again. I wouldn’t say all is brilliant, but the auto-focus worked wonders, the shots are sharp enough for my liking, look decent even at higher ISO’s and again most impressed I am with the results of shots taken of moving objects – in this case fast running horses far away in the distance in low light, eve when cropped in heavily in post these images are still very usable.

Below a selection of photographs from the day. My focus was to capture the grind, desperation, emotions but also beauty of this race day held in these desperate conditions.




























Rottnest Island



The last day in the west – but this one had it all. From Fremantle as the starting point it was a leisurely ride on the “Rottnest Express” through the open Indian Ocean over to Rottnest Island. I hired a bike for the day for an extra 30 quid. A good decision.

The island is best explored on two wheals. You really don’t wanna rely on a bus that shoves you from viewing point to viewing point with a loud group of other tourists, but rather find those little coves and beaches where it’s only you, the warm, white sand and the crystal clear water.

Despite putting plenty of sun lotion on my arms, legs and head, I baked like a baked potato without thin foil on a grill. It’s been a hot day. But hey, living in Ireland most of the year I don’t wanna complain.

Photography wise the island provides opportunities to shoot wildlife like sea lions, all sorts of birds, lizards, the odd snake and of course the ever present quokkas. Known to be the “happiest animal on the planet”. Turns out they aren’t. Like in all those seemingly fabulous working marriages, they have their own problems beneath the surface.

In the distance I was able to spot some feeding humpback whales. They were a bit too far away even for my 200mm lens.

I had all the heavy gear in my back. That made the climb on the one-gear-only women’s bike up the hilly land a bit tricky and I didn’t shoot as much as I wanted as I also wanted to get around the whole island but also didn’t want to miss the last ferry back to the mainland.

Still I got a bit of wildlife and the stunning landscape. Never needed to up the ISO beyond one 100 on a masterfully bright and sunny day. Sunsets on the island must be breathtaking. Great composition looming everywhere. Another time. Sydney is calling.



Subiaco Oval Panorama



HDR Panorama of the Subiaco Oval in Perth – 6 vertical frames, 3 shots each 1 stop over/under.

Perth – I’m in Love



4am in the morning, it’s only a mere three hours ago when I went to bed. What exactly was the reason to catch the very first plane in the morning out of Adelaide? Not so sure in those early hours….

…. though it’s well rewarded eventually. I leave chilly Adelaide – the thermometer fell to 2 degrees during the night! – for a more balmy in sunshine bathing Perth. This city on the far west of Australia, a whopping 2.500km away from the southerly Adelaide is a little cosmos of its own.

It’s the open ocean and white sand beaches, it’s a calm bay area, it’s green and most importantly it is warm! Over 20 degrees during the Australian winter…. that leaves a mark on its citizens I feel. In a positive way. The sun put a smile on peoples faces. Open, friendly, relaxed people.

I even braved the Ocean and took a dip in the “Indian”.

I’m renting an apartment suburb of Perth – Mosman Park. To the left the open ocean – I actually was brave enough to jump in and take a swim  – and to the left  the so called called “Bay View”. A small park that offers splendid view over the Perth Bay all the way up to the city centre with it’s high rising office buildings.

The best: there is nobody. No tourists. None! What a wonderful place this is. Already after two days I can say: Perth – I’m in love.

Hiking in the Adelaide Hills



Day 3 in “Down Under” – still Adelaide, though slowly but steadily my time here draws to a close. It was an early start, the sun stood sky high, you got to make the most of that. The plan was to hike in the Adelaide Hills.

Eventually I ended up in the Cleland Conservation Park, roughly 20km outside of the city – a IUCN protected area – so quite an important piece of nature. Several excellently marked trails lead through the 11.25 square kilometre big park.

While I have seen more spectacular mountains (though these are called ‘hills’ anyway) it was nonetheless a great day out in the nature the whole day and well worth a long hike to be eventually rewarded with a stunning view of the city itself – as the image above shows.

Conditions were not ideal to shoot I have to admit. I didn’t have time to wait for the sunset so the sun was still quite high shining harshly into the valley where the city lies. The view was not totally clear and my Nikon D7100 had clearly issues to capture a balanced scene.

So I tried to bracket my shots and see what could be done in post combining the files. I’m happy enough with the output. The image was taken with the new Tamron 70-200mm G2 lens.

On my way back, already near the end of my trail, I suddenly heard some strange noises coming from the bushes near me…. and there they were, two kangaroos! Just finding themselves a spot to rest.