Rodney Campbell's Blog

Queen Mary 2 in Sydney Town…

by on Mar.13, 2013, under Life, Photography

The Queen Mary 2 arrived in Sydney Harbour very very early in the morning. I was intending on joining a Flickr group for an early morning shoot from around Dawes Point as the ship came into the harbour and then do sunrise. The pilot and tugs were expected to be bringing her in around 4:30AM so I woke very early and headed down to the Rocks.

I planned to take some images from the middle of the Harbour Bridge first which would include the city around past the Opera House and then down the harbour towards the arriving QM2. So I made my way up onto the deck of the bridge and started some test shots at 4AM!. There was no QM2 in sight and the sky was clear and dark (with a small crescent moon high in the sky). I figured it was still a few hours till sunrise so I decided instead to setup for some city star trails from up high.

The following is the result of stacking 230 images shot with the 16-35/4 at 17mm with the camera set to 25 second exposures at f/4 and ISO 400. Normally for star trails I’d prefer a completely dark sky with no light pollution and use something like 60 second exposures at ISO 1600 to really bring out the stars. Here the city (and the QM2) was insanely bright so I had to reduce the exposure 3 or 4 stops just so the city and sky wasn’t too nuclear. Still I wasn’t all that hopeful but let her rip for an hour and forty minutes before twilight (an hour before sunrise) started really brightening the sky killing all the stars. I also took some separate twilight exposures to use to blend in at the bottom for the harbour, land, buildings, etc.

During the sequence of images my biggest concern was how much the bridge was moving up and down when trains and vehicles came across and how this was going to affect stacking – there was some but it wasn’t too bad in the end I reckon.

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

QM2 Under the Stars

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 17 mm, 25 sec at f/4, ISO 400 x 230 frames

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 17 mm, 25 sec at f/4, ISO 400 x 230 frames stacked for star trails blended with a 30 second @ f/11 and ISO 400 twilight exposure

That QM2 is one massive ship – when I first saw it coming into the harbour in the distance (and it was late :)) it looked tiny and I was a little disappointed – it literally took 30 minutes for the tugs to bring it down to the bridge. At this stage when it was almost below me it looked absolutely enormous – and lit up like a Christmas tree. The tugs then pushed the back of the ship 90 degrees in towards circular quay, then another 30 minutes to back the QM2 into the quay and then they pushed it slowly sideways till it was against the Overseas Passenger Terminal dock which took another 15 minutes

I took some more images from the bridge till just after 6AM and then made my way down towards Dawes Point to take some shots around sunrise

A little long exposure BigStopper work just after sunrise with the Sydney Park Hyatt and the QM2 framing the Opera House

QM2 Harbour Blues

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 74.00 sec at f/11, ISO 400

and this one just so you can see how big this ship is in Circular Quay – both in length and height – remembering that I’m way up on the deck of the Harbour bridge for this shot…

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 32 mm, 1.60 sec at f/11, ISO 200

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