Vivid Light Festival: Sydney Opera House, Customs House and the MCA + some tips on how to photograph Vivid

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The Vivid Light festival is on again in Sydney. For 18 days, our harbour city plays host to an ever growing number of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations. This year has seen the festival locations grow even more with displays spread from Circular Quay to Chatswood and beyond. The photo’s in this post are from around the epicentre of the festival: the Opera House, Customs House and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).

For me, the Customs House and MCA displays were the most impressive this year. Probably the best I’ve seen since the festival has been running actually.

We have a long-weekend to look forward to in Sydney so if you haven’t been down yet, I’d recommend you grab your camera and check it out. It finishes on Monday night!


Tips on How to Photograph Vivid Light Display’s

A reader emailed recently asking for some tips on how to photograph Vivid so I thought I’d share my fairly basic tips:

1. Tripod, tripod, tripod!!! ( You just can’t really take these shots without someway to stabilise your camera).

2. Shoot in Manual Mode – dial in your settings, check the results, modify settings and keep experimenting.

3. ISO 100.  My rule of thumb though is to always use the lowest ISO as possible when shooting night photo’s to try and minimise noise.

4. Aperture and Shutter speed get adjusted on a case by case basis. Obviously, the longer the shutter speed the more you can blur the water however, the images in the lightship will merge and become indistinct. It’s a balancing act. Generally, when taking shots of the Opera House this year my shutter speed was around 4 seconds and my aperture ranged from f2.8 – f4.0.

5. Set camera to timer mode (3 seconds in my case). This way any vibrations to the sensor in the DSLR from pressing the shutter button can be diminished and hopefully result in a sharper picture.

Anyway, that’s my brief summary of how I approached the photo’s in this set. If you want, you can look at the images in the gallery viewer at the end of this post – there you’ll see the major camera settings (EXIF data) if you’re still interested.

Hope you’ve all been well and my apologies for the long absence too. Have a great weekend everyone!


Canon 5D MIII | EF 24-70L f2.8 | Tripod | Post: Lightroom 5

Sydney Opera House Sails

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Customs House

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Museum of Contemporary Art

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Here’s the gallery of all the shots again to if you’d like to see the camera data. Just click on one of the images to open up the gallery viewer.



6 Comments Add yours

  1. SAN_jeet says:

    lovely location


  2. paula graham says:

    Sure is colourful and well shot too.


  3. Anne-Maree Prentice says:

    Great stuff Distan ~ Customs House in particular.


  4. Wow! These are beautiful and give us yet another reason to visit Australia. Thanks for the shooting tips as well. Love, lovely photos.


  5. V-Light says:

    Great photos Distan!!! 😀 This is definitely the coolest festival in the whole world!


  6. Amazing light shows that you have brilliantly capture Distan and thanks so much informative help on how to achieve results similar to yours. Hope all is well and have a great weekend


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