I knew it was going to hard. My Ninja photography skills were going to be tested more then usual this time! The stakes were higher being in another country and getting arrested would probably not be the best idea while on vacation. However, the plea of "I didn't know" can be rather affective in these types of situations. My wife had just gone back to the hotel, after a long day of site-seeing so now was my chance. Its now or never.
I had been staring at this photo location from our hotel room for several days now. Our hotel was the white building right in the middle of this photo, The Four Points Sheratan. If only I could get high enough I could get an amazing shot of darling harbor at blue hour, I thought. There were a few options. The hotel across the bridge looked promising if only I could get out on one of the balconies on the upper floor. I decided, it never hurts to ask.
I ran across the bridge and entered the hotel eventually getting to the front desk. The front desk clerk was welcoming and seemed receptive to the idea of letting me borrow a room for about an hour to get a shot. Unfortunately all the rooms were booked, being a holiday season but he was nice enough to suggest the hotel next door and that they had an outdoor patio on the 2 floor that might work. I thanked him and headed next door.
Hotel #2 did in fact have a 2nd floor patio but unfortunately it still wasn't high enough to get above several buildings in the foreground. I needed to get higher. I quickly turned the corner and headed for the elevator. I ran into two male teenagers going up to their room and I was lucky enough to get a ride with them being that the elevator was controlled by room keys. I was now on the 4th floor and making progress. Now I just needed to find a window or something.
I walked down the hall way eventually getting to the end with not a single window to be found. I didn't know what to try next. The door in front of me was marked FIRE EXIT, and I had noticed an open air stairwell that went up the side of the hotel before I walked in. That would make for a perfect shooting location, but could I get out there without getting in trouble? I began to canal my inner Clint Eastwood, as the door and I stared each other down! The question was "Do I feel lucky...." and risk setting off a fire alarm as I go through the door? Do they even have those in Australia? I looked up and down the walls looking for any indication of an alarm or security system and saw nothing.
This was the moment of truth, do I go for it and risk being escorted out by hotel security, or even maybe the police? It all came down to this moment............and I went for it!.........
End the end there was no alarm. I figured out that this was a actually a common exit for people to easily get out to the street, which I ended up using later to get out without using the elevator. I spent about an hour on the stairwell shooting to my hearts content never seeing anyone. My Ninja Photography skills had payed off yet again and I was one happy camper!
How I did it: Canon 5D mkII, 16-35mm f2.8 II lens 16mm F16, ISO 160, at 2sec (Base Exposure)
5 Bracketed exposures (-2,-1,0,+1,+2) taken on location. Adjusted white balance, lens correction and removed chroma abrasions to all brackets before export, (New thing I'm tring) . Exported 5 exposures to HDRlabs 32bit tiff plugin to combine into 32bit floating point tiff. Lightroom adjustments on the 32bit tiff to bring to final.