Rodney Campbell's Blog

Camping @ Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour…

by on Nov.21, 2010, under Life, Photography

Over the past weekend my daughters School had their annual campout and this year it was held on Cockatoo Island which is in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

We only stayed overnight on Saturday night but it was an absolutely awesome location and the weather was essentially very kind which was a big plus. They even had a free Jazz concert from 5 to 7PM.

Having about thirty families camping together in such an interesting and scenic location afforded the opportunity to take all sorts of photographs, including lots of portraits of our very photogenic children of course (including a number during the late afternoon and early morning golden hours with softer glowing light) and the island also supplied many other very interesting subjects to photograph.

From old abandoned machinery and buildings, tunnels, incredibly moody skies over the harbour, sunset images to a bit of kids doing long exposure light painting with sparklers and my wife waking me at 4:45AM with “the sunrise is beautiful – go and take some nice pictures of it!” – the clouds made it fabulous.

Note: These images (especially the wider panorama shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay gallery viewer.

Here is a very wide angle view of the campground from high up on the cliffs above.

NIKON D90 + 8.0-16.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 8 mm, 1/60 sec at f / 5.6, ISO 320

There’s a seagull colony on the island so there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds around the island. Here is a view of one nesting on some eggs high on the cliffs above the campground.

NIKON D90 + 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 145 mm, 1/1600 sec at f / 4.8, ISO 200

Whilst I was wandering the island I spied the silhouettes of one of my daughters and her friends at the far end of one of the tunnels which crosses the island so with a long lens I grabbed the following image.

NIKON D90 + 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 230 mm, 1/60 sec at f / 5.6, ISO 250

On the Saturday afternoon (just after 4PM) the clouds and sky put on an awesome show – with heavy moody clouds rolling in, shafts of sunlight beaming through the clouds and gaps, and also a some rain and thunderstorms in the distance.

Metering in these conditions was tricky and in the end I bracketed some exposures (at 0, -2 and +2EV) and used HDR techniques to blend the exposures and then converted to monochrome for effect.

NIKON D90 + 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18 mm, 1/400 sec at f / 11, ISO 200

Towards sunset the weather settled down and we were spared the heavy rain on the island. The following image was taken before sunset at around 5:40PM.

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/250 sec at f / 11, ISO 200

In the late afternoon sun (this was taken around 6:30PM) I was able to capture some fantastic portraits of kids – as seems always the way all my best ones are of children not my own however here is one of the ones of my youngest daughter which isn’t too bad.

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/160 sec at f / 1.4, ISO 200

A little after 5AM (soon after sunrise) I was able to capture a few shots from various vantage points on the island including up high on the cliffs looking east towards the iconic harbour bridge. The first was taken with an extremely wide angle 8mm lens which allowed a very panoramic view of both the harbour and the cloud littered sky, the second was taken with my new 50mm f/1.4 lens and in this case includes the sun pushing through the clouds directly at the camera.

NIKON D90 + 8.0-16.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 8 mm, 1/1000 sec at f / 5.6, ISO 200

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/800 sec at f / 8.0, ISO 200

This last shot is another HDR converted to monochrome of one of the oldest abandoned buildings at the top of the hill on the island – in this case an old stone building with no roof and thus was open to the sky. I needed to use a wide range of exposure to capture the detail both in the shadows inside the building along with the bright open sky.

NIKON D90 + 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18 mm, 1/160 sec at f / 9.0, ISO 200

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