Ten tips for great images at Vivid Sydney this year
With hordes of Aussie photographers busy dusting off their shutter releases, prepping their tripods and going to bed dreaming of uninterrupted views, it can only mean one thing. Vivid Sydney is here!
Vivid is huge - so huge in fact that it brought 2.31 million people through the city last year. For 2017 there will be more than 400 music events, 260 ideas sessions and 90 light installations stationed across Sydney's CBD, Barangaroo and Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Kings Cross and Chatswood. And provided you're not joining Ken Duncan in a boycott of the event, you'll have from 26 May to 16 June to attend.
We spoke to photographers Bill Karayannis, Luke Tscharke and Drew Hopper to get their tips for making the most of Vivid 2017 and how to turn your experience into something especially memorable.
1) Don't just go once
If possible, go twice. The first trip should be a planning mission to get familiar with the light displays and to give you an idea of where you need to be for the best possible shots. Planning ahead, like you’d do when scouting a new landscape location for example, will more often than not give you better results than going in blind.
2) Go late
Go late to avoid the crowds and unless you’re carrying out your recon trip, do not go on weekends. Also, be patient with fellow photographers and others around you!
3) Go with a veteran!
If you have never shot Vivid before, go with someone that has so that they can pass on tips and information should you get stuck. Last year I took my 16 year old niece and once she was set up and sorted, she had a ball and came away with some brilliant shots. Canon are offering vivid tours as are NiSi filters this year too.
4) Know your gear inside out
Know your gear and your settings – last year’s Opera House laser display moved so quickly that if you didn’t know how to expose for around 0.5sec then you weren’t walking away with tack sharp, well exposed shots. There’s no point trying to figure out where to plug your remote into your camera or how to extend your tripod legs on the night. This will all lead to frustration and can be so easily avoided by learning how to use your equipment first before venturing out.
5) Be original
Everyone wants the classic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House shots, but there's so much more to discover. By finding original subjects/compositions your work will standout from the masses.
6) Go out in the rain
Most people will avoid the Harbour and surrounding areas during the rain, which makes it the perfect time to wander around without the hassle of crowd dodging. You'll be able to get cleaner images without herds of people in your shots. Also, you'll be able to make use of the reflections on the ground for a more dynamic composition.
7) Increase ISO
If you plan on shooting handheld than you'll likely need to increase your ISO in order to get steady shots. Also keep an eye on your shutter speed. Some of the lights change colours quickly and if your exposure is too long you'll lose those rich contrasty colours especially when photographing the Bridge and Opera House (if you do choose to photograph them!)
8) Use a light pollution filter
Consider bringing along a light pollution filter like the NiSi Natural Night filter. It cuts through the yellow glow of sodium vapor lamps and renders the scene in much more pleasing colours.
9) Plan your shots
Have some kind of idea in mind of the shots you wish to take to avoid carrying lenses with you that you’re not going to use. It just makes for an uncomfortable experience lugging around unnecessary lenses and/or bodies.
10) Dress warm
Wear warm, comfortable clothing and expect to cover lots of ground on the night in order to get to the best locations. Have fun and enjoy yourself – Vivid is one of those unique occasions that shows off our beautiful Harbour so make the most of it.