Smokey Sunset at Bradleys Head…

We had smoke filled skies in Sydney yet again so I headed to Bradleys Head this time expecting a very red sunset. Bradleys Head is right next to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on the northern side of Sydney Harbour. One of the things that makes Bradleys Head so special is that it has an old stone jetty which reaches out into the water with what looks to be some old tram tracks embedded in the stones. It also has a large Amphitheatre and picnic area with breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Fort Denison and the Sydney CBD.

Unfortunately by the time I’d arrived a number people taking photographs had set themselves up at the end of the stone jetty right out on the edge of the water with tripods and cameras pointed at the blood red sun hanging in smoke filled skies.

Personally I’d wanted to include the stone jetty itself as my foreground interest but since it was filled with people, that kind of killed that idea for me. I took a quick telephoto panorama whilst I was setup (which I may process and post later) and yet more people arrived and setup their tripods out at the end even whilst I was doing this. I then headed off onto the rocks with some other photographers to find something interesting I could use in my compositions.

I found these rocks
– near the waters edge so I’d have a bit of misty water movement at the edge – tick
– lots of bright green moss around – tick
– small pools of still water in the rock surface with interesting sea creature stuff below the water – double tick

I tried a couple framings with two lenses (the 16-35/4 and the 24-70/2.8) at various focal lengths from very wide to medium long but these two ultra wide shots ended up being my favourites

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.

The first is right on sunset with the sun just above the horizon and going down in the small gap between the city buildings and the Opera House

Fire and Water

Fire and Water

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 2 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Backing away and shooting from a little lower and more level this shot is five minutes later and just moments after sunset – I stacked a 3 stop ND with the 2 stop grad to lengthen the exposure time to smooth out the water and skies

Lavender and Lime

Lavender and Lime

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 30 sec at f/11, ISO 100

The moment the sun itself had set pretty much all the others packed up and left; only the “real” photographers 🙂 stayed around

Since the stone jetty was now clear I moved over and framed this shot looking straight down the jetty to the city on the other side of the harbour with a “normal” focal length; 15 minutes after sunset – this would be pretty close to the perspective you’d see with the naked eye at this spot

End of the Road

End of the Road

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm, 15 sec at f/13, ISO 100

Finally I moved up into the amphitheatre for a higher perspective and went more tele for this long exposure closer view of the city with the jetty cutting diagonally in the frame (only wish it went the other way :)). It’s half an hour after sunset now so we’ve got great city lights going on, but we still had a really bright reddy pink band of light like a flame coming out of the west rim lighting the buildings nicely with dark smokey purple above the city

Rim City

Rim City

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 62 mm, 72.00 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Triptych: Three Faces of Austinmer…

A triptych created from three of the vertically composed images I made at Austinmer.

Note: These photographs (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.

The left frame was actually taken just on sunrise, the middle frame about 20 minutes before sunrise and the right a bigstopper long exposure taken after sunrise.

Three Faces of Austinmer

Three Faces of Austinmer

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 0.8/36/81 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Burning Skies over Sydney…

Sydney (well most of Australia) is heading into bushfire season and we’ve started early this year with a couple of large fires burning in areas west of Sydney. With high temperatures and strong winds it was particularly bad today and a huge pall of smoke has been blown over Sydney towards the ocean. With the skies filled with smoke and haze and interesting light happening, I decided to head down to the harbour (Blues Point Reserve) for sunset to see if we’d get some colour in the sky.

It was also a chance for me to try my new Formatt Hitech 3 Stop Reverse Grad filter I’d purchased recently to use with my Lee Filter system.

Note: These photographs (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.

Early on it wasn’t looking promising with the skies just going very dark with a very thick bank of smoke blowing through the skies, but just as sunset hit the skies started lighting up with fabulous colour. Shooting west almost into the setting sun – it’s just dipped below the horizon a fraction to the left of this frame…

Fire Lines

Fire Lines

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1 sec at f/11, ISO 100

I was literally bathed in glorious light – looking around for a moment I could see the skies were going insane over the city and the colour was extraordinary – so a quick spin about and recompose to take in the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney CBD just five minutes after sunset

Sydney on Fire

Sydney on Fire

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1.60 sec at f/11, ISO 100

The fabulous colour in the sky lasted for quite sometime which was pretty unusual – this is a few minutes before the tail end of the intense colour at 10 minutes past sunset

Pink and Purple

Pink and Purple

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 34 mm, 4 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Sydney a Glow

Sydney a Glow

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 34 mm, 8 sec at f/11, ISO 100

and fifteen minutes after sunset the intense glow in the sky faded to more muted colours, the lights in the buildings had come on and it was time to try to capture some cityscape scenes with twilight colour still permeating the sky

Twilight City

Twilight City

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 34 mm, 31.00 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Angry Red at Bradleys Head…

We had smoke filled skies in Sydney yet again yesterday so I headed to Bradleys Head expecting a very red sunset. I was aiming to shoot from the rocks down on the water at the point looking across towards the city and the setting sun behind it.

On the drive down along the headland towards the point I spied to my right a fiery ball in a sky filled with red smoke haze and a bright orange reflection across the water below. I pulled over and grabbed my gear and headed out to look for a spot where I could shoot with a couple silhouetted trees looking down on the scene below.

I actually took a number of bracketed shots (both for exposure and for focus) for this scene and I was expecting to need to do a HDR to cope with the brightness of the sun in the frame along with a focus stack of the foreground branches and the distant city (I was shooting at maximum focal length for the lenses I had with me – 70mm in this case). In the end however I liked this particular single frame and the depth of field was more than adequate even at f/9 (the trees were quite a long way away) and because the sun was behind a very heavy bank of smoke it didn’t blow out too much and this end result gave me more of the feel I had when I was standing there in awe of the scene below.

My thoughts go to the now many affected by the fires in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney – more than 200 homes lost and more than 100 more severely damaged! and wednesday is shaping up to be another horror day 🙁

Angry Red

Angry Red

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/100 sec at f/9, ISO 100

I actually wanted to try some more compositions with twisty foreground trees filling most of the frame, backlit by the red landscape but time was pressing and I wanted to be down on the water in time to setup for sunset…

Blues Point Sunset…

Sydney (well most of Australia) is heading into bushfire season and we’ve started early this year with a couple of large fires burning in areas west of Sydney. With high temperatures and strong winds it was particularly bad today and a huge pall of smoke has been blown over Sydney towards the ocean. With the skies filled with smoke and haze and interesting light happening, I decided to head down to the harbour (Blues Point Reserve) for sunset to see if we’d get some colour in the sky.

It was also a chance for me to try my new Formatt Hitech 3 Stop Reverse Grad filter I’d purchased recently to use with my Lee Filter system.

Early on it wasn’t looking promising with the skies just going very dark with a very thick bank of smoke blowing across the skies

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.

In the absence of anything particularly inspiring before sunset I set about to try some bigstopper long exposures stacked with the new reverse grad. The following didn’t work as I’d intended – I’d backed away and used a slight tele to compress the weathered stone lip of the sea wall with the Opera House and bridge in the distance. In hindsight I should have taken two shots and focus stacked them (one with the foreground sharp as we’ve got here, one for the background) – f/11 just wasn’t anywhere near enough dof at 70mm. I’m not even sure the composition works at all (what do you think – does the stone wall at the base with a few scattered leaves and a twisted branch provide an interesting firm footing for the rest of the frame or does it block you from entering the shot?). One thing the shot does show you is the dark and heavy purple smoke haze flowing over us.

Purple Haze

Purple Haze

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 245 sec at f/11, ISO 100

This view of North Sydney with the BigStopper stacked with the reverse grad

North Sydney

North Sydney

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 48 mm, 184 sec at f/6.3, ISO 100

Whilst I was waiting for something to happen (sunset) I tried some more bigstopper long exposures – this one of the SOH and SHB

Long Opera

Long Opera

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 184 sec at f/8, ISO 100

I headed around to the western side of Blues Point Reserve just before sunset to try some more long exposures and the sky started lighting up with colour

Golden Setting

Golden Setting

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 152 sec at f/11, ISO 100

and right on sunset everything started happening

Skies Ablaze

Skies Ablaze

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 82.00 sec at f/8, ISO 200