A couple of weeks back I was covering an event for a few hours in the city. I planned to take a cab back after it was over so I thought I’d just walk a little and hail a cab in the direction I was heading. As I was walking past St Mary’s Cathedral, I looked up and it was a beautiful day in Sydney – blue skies with some clouds, nice cool weather and not too cold. It reminded me of the previous weddings I covered where we spent quite a bit of time outside getting some photos for the newlyweds. I thought to myself, those were fun times
As I was reminiscing, this crazy idea popped into my head – why not walk back home via the Harbour Bridge?? I’ve always wanted to do it and I had all of my equipment with me including my Xpan anyway!! So, right in front of the majestic St Mary’s Cathedral, I loaded a new roll of B&W film into my Xpan and replaced the memory card in my DSLR. Before I knew it, I was making my way down Macquarie St towards the Opera House. From there, the journey began
This was the first photo along the way, off the Eastern Distributor. At this point, I felt maybe I made a mistake deciding to walk home across the Harbour Bridge. I had 4 lenses, my 5D Mark II with the battery grip on, 2 flashes, my Xpan film camera and spare batteries – a total of about 10Kg’s on my back. 10Kg’s doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it gets heavier and heavier every step. Then again, at this point there was no turning back
I pushed on and when I got to the south pylon, I was getting excited again as I’ve always wanted to get up there for some photos. The build up of lactic acid in my calves and thighs slowly dissipated. As I went in, I was greeted by another flight of steps but I thought nevermind, almost there! When I got to the ticket counter, I had to catch my breath and my legs were slightly jelly-ish at this point. I greeted the guy at the counter, “Whoa, that was quite a climb!”, only to have him reply ” Oh mate, you’re only a quarter way up to the top!”
Anyway, I got to the top eventually – sweating in my suit, I almost couldn’t feel my legs anymore, gasping to refill my lungs with much needed oxygen! Then I saw the view… Wow, this is so worth it
This is a 4 image, vertical stitch done in Photoshop CS4. The total pixels in this: 9363X3457. This really has to be seen large to fully appreciate the amount of detail in it
I generally process my landscapes or in this case, cityscapes to best depict the actual scene/color of my subjects. The Harbour Bridge and Opera House have been photographed billions of times before so I wanted to try something different with it. I decreased the dynamic range of the shots above so the highlights were blown and shadows were black – an attempt to emulate the limited exposure range of film.
The pictures below however are the true colors of Australia’s skies and too beautiful to manipulate otherwise. When I think about it, I only started photography when I moved to Australia – perhaps the blue skies and awesome sunrise/sunsets have something to do with it
I continued my walk across the bridge and as the sun was setting, this was the view through the rails. I shot this handheld at 1/13 sec, f/16, ISO1600.
On the other side, this was the view where the sun was setting.
This shot below is the same stitch from above. I only edited it differently for a natural look.
For those interested to get up the pylon, there is a $9.50 fee and it closes at 5pm. Now that it’s still winter, you might get lucky and have some beautiful golden light while you’re up there. Otherwise, you’d have to wait till next winter. Also, don’t forget to travel light and bring some water along with you. I did neither so please don’t repeat my mistakes
I have photographed the Harbour Bridge and Opera House countless times now since I started photography several years ago. In fact one of my first few large prints were of these 2 Sydney landmarks. As more and more of my friends got into photography, we were shooting the same landmarks over and over again. It doesn’t help that I live 5 mins away from the view at Milson’s Point so whenever I wanted to test any new equipment I’d head there. It was almost like being in a photography rut as I was not shooting anything else for quite some time.
Although, during my walk back I had plenty of time to think about a lot of things. My family, my friends, living in Sydney, my business progression. I thought about how lucky I am to have all these people around me, a great life here and simply, just doing what I love doing most. This reminded me again of something we all forget from time to time – to enjoy even the simplest things in life and to never take things for granted.
The walk from St Mary’s to my place took about 3 1/2 hours, approx 9Km’s of hills to climb and descend along the way. When I finally got home it was cold and dark. I was exhausted, my shoulder and knees hurt but then, it was so worth it and I’m glad I finally did it