Opera House & Circle Quay at Night

Opera House & Circle Quay at Night

I had just finished taking this shot: www.flickr.com/photos/joshuagunther/8411763643/in/photost.... The light in the sky was fading but I knew If I ran for it I might be able to capture the Opera House with a bit of "Blue" left in the sky before it went completely dark for the night. I asked a group of 20 somethings having a picnic next to me if there was an easy way to get onto the Harbour Bridge. In a somewhat drunken stouper they pointed me in the right direction. Down the park, onto the street, under the bridge, up a stairwell, and onto the bridge.....Ok got it!

I quickly ran with my 20 pounds of camera gear and my tripod over my shoulder, probably looking like an LA Paparazzi running after Linsey Lohan, trying to make it before the light was gone. Eventually I made it to the stairwell. As I got to the top, there it was, the beautiful Opera House in perfect blue hour light! I snapped off my brackets and was excited I made it in time. Maybe I could get a few more shots if I keep moving.

About that time a couple, walked up behind me, looked at my view and snapped the same shot with their iphone. "Wow great view Mate", the guy said. I replied, "Totally! But, I got to run! I'm going to try and get a few more shots".

I decided to continue onto the bridge to see what I might be able to find. I stopped at several locations along the way snapping off brackets and just being totally blown away by the view and feeling of being up high on the Harbour Bridge.

I kept running into the same couple over and over as they would catch up to me after I ran ahead to setup my next shot. Every time the same guy would snap a shot with his iphone as if to say, "I must have the best spot so I'll take one too". It became rather comforting to keep running into them. It got me to slowly let my guard down a bit and enjoy what I was experiencing.

I began to look around me at the people walking on the bridge. They were mostly families, couples, and kids all laughing and enjoying the view as they walked along. There was a feeling of overwhelming joy, and happiness of everyone. Stress was low and enjoyment high. It was wonderful! Even better, this was at 9-10clock at night!

Normally in LA, you don't see families walking around at night, especially on a dark bridge, of all places. Most of the time we are taught that is where rapists and drug dealers hangout so don't even think about hanging out there. But not so in Sydney. In fact for the very short week we were there, we were blown away by how safe the city felt to us. Everything from the subway stations, to bridges, and parks all felt safer then any other city we had been in overseas or even domestic. It was a wonderful feeling and one that will always stick in my mind when I remember Sydney!

How this shot was made: Canon 5DmkII, 16-35mm f2.8L Lens 24mm, F8, ISO 1000, 13sec(Base Exposure)

5 Bracketed exposures (-2,-1,0,+1,+2) taken on location. Exported 5 exposures to HDRsoft's 32bit tiff plugin to combine into 32bit floating point tiff. Lightroom adjustments on the 32bit tiff to get it as close to final as I could.

Digital Blending with the -1 exposure to add contrast of the buildings and opera house. Added sharpening using the "Highpass" filter and a layer mask. Also painted out some distracting elements in the water using the clone, and healing brush tools.

Final adjustments in Lightroom 4. Added .3 to exposure to finish.