Sculpture at Barangaroo - A Photographic Walk in the Park

August 14, 2016

Even as a Sydney commercial photographer I find it is often not possible (or appropriate – I know this because of the “looks” I get) when I travel or am with family (who aren’t photographers) to spend all the time I would like, take all the camera gear I want or to be at the location at the time of day I would prefer. I am sure all photographers have the same issues so my question is "How do we enjoy the day and still get some good photos?"

Here are some of my photo tips illustrated during a walk I did today with some of my family at the Sculpture at Barangaroo exhibition. I really had no choice in the time of day and if I didn’t want to get left behind by my long suffering family, I needed to be swift in capturing the shots I wanted. All I had with me was my small Fuji X-E1 fitted with an 18-55mm zoom, a polarising filter, an ND filter and a grain filled cloth bag.  I was lucky with the weather though – a touch of Spring and a bright sunny day with no visible pollution.

The Grove  -  Two Pods made from Red Cedar Shingles By Margarita Samson 

This was a tough photo assi  gnment. It was a very popular sculpture and the challenge was definitely to get a shot without a bunch of people obscuring the pods. The answer for me was to use the two filters, camera set to Auto Aperture control - a small aperture (f/22) and a low ISO (200 minimum) to achieve a very slow shutter speed (27 seconds). The camera angle I used was probably not the best but was dictated by access to a convenient rock were I could use the grain bag to steady and position the camera. Scuplture at Sydney's Barangaroo Park titled The GroveNormal Scene and Activity - Hard to get a "clean" shot!Quick photo of The Grove sculpture surrounded by people

Sculpture at Barangaroo Sydney titled The Grove by Margartita SampsonMy Shot - Sculpture called The GroveMy photo tip to minimise people in a crowded scene.

I think the final results are worthy. Blurring out the people certainly makes it plain that the sculpture is the important feature whilst the blurred people show movement and activity. The composition, including some of the Barangaroo buildings in the background, pinpoints the location. The polarising filter helped to create the vivid blue sky.

This shot didn’t take long to set up but unfortunately a couple of long exposures did leave me lagging behind the family temporarily.

Harlequin Shuttle By Ken Unsworth AM Harlequin Shuttle Sculpture at BarangarooHarlequin Shuttle Sculpture at BarangarooPhotography of the sculpture Harlequin Shuttle by Ken Unsworth AM celebrating Barangaroo Reserve's First Birthday

This striking jewel-like 8 metre tall sculpture was a no-brainer really. It looked much less impressive when viewed straight-on in the bright sunlight. The option I took was to let the sun do the work of lighting up the stained-glass like panels which added much vivid colour and drama to the scene. Moving close in, almost underneath the sculpture with a wide angle looking up, emphasised the rocket like shape and created a sense of drama.  This was shot Auto Aperture/Auto ISO hand-held f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/180th, 18mm.

Horizon (Acrylic Sphere) By Lucy Humphrey

Barangaroo Sculpture PhotographyBarangaroo Sculpture PhotographyHorizon by Lucy Humphrey is part of an exhibition of Sculpture celebrating Barangaroo Reserve's First Birthday Sculpture Photography with Sydney Harbour BridgeThe Common View - Sculpture Photography with Sydney Harbour Bridge - Again, this was a very popular sculpture which attracted people to stand up close so they could see themselves reflected upside down. The common view I have seen others post on social media etc. is of course a view with the Harbour Bridge reflected in the sphere (see my sample). But this view was proving impossible to obtain without people in the background and I wanted to find something different anyway. I noticed the sun sparkling off the water and the way the pattern of the rocks inset within the sphere contrasted interestingly with the water. So I opted for a longer lens setting (56mm) – enough to keep me out of the picture and wide enough to allow me to use a square crop to surround the circle of the sphere. My final touch was to invert the image to form quite a different view. Camera settings were again Auto Aperture Priority f/9.0, Auto ISO at 200, 1/120th hand held. A tripod would have been great to use here but not practical on the day.

I would have loved to have spent a lot more time viewing and discovering many aspects of the other sculptures – all wonderful in their own ways - but lunch and a coffee beckoned the family and I can never say no to a coffee!

I have posted a few other images on my web site which you can view here.

Hopefully, you have been interested in my images and perhaps picked up one or two helpful tips. Anyone can take these types of images using very basic camera gear and have fun doing it without upsetting non-photographers too much. This was definitely not a professional shoot but it just shows that professionals still enjoy photography on their days off.