Kevin Chamberlain Photography | Sydney Vivid Festival

Sydney Vivid Festival

June 17, 2015

Did you brave the crowds and winter weather to visit this year's Sydney Vivid Festival? Customs House Sydney at VividCustoms House Sydney at VividThe Rocks by Day and the Vivid Light Festival by Night with Nephew Chris. A shot of the Light Display at Customs House, The Quay.

I haven't really been before but this year the family wanted to go, so naturally I hopped on the train with one camera, one lens and my trusty tripod. Gear was limited because I often get into a spot of bother with my family as my photography, sometimes, can take over any outing... well just a bit... occasionally. But I did have a certain dispensation this time as my brother-in-law Pete also had his camera, as did my young niece Lauren. Fun!

It was certainly worth making the effort. The crowds (we went on a Friday) were not too bad but bad enough to make expert photography difficult or impossible - still, along with many, many other tripod hugging photographers (not to mention the thousands of mobile phone cameras), we managed to get some good snaps. You can see some of mine  on my Client Gallery.

It is certainly great for Sydney to have this winter attraction and the crowds sure prove it is popular. Sydney is a beautiful city so why not show it off.

We spent several hours trudging around the Quay area and up under the Harbour Bridge. The show at the MCA was jam-packed but brilliant - with the colourful fast moving imagery (very hard to photograph well) but OK using high ISO and a sort of monopod use of my tripod in amongst the crowds. Then onto the bridge which  I found somewhat underwhelming from our up-close view point. But of course the highlight was the Opera House. The crowds were quite manageable here and I quickly found a spot immediately below the site of the projectors and this allowed me to capture the beautiful light-beams which added colour and interest to the otherwise now black night skies.

Overall it was quite a tiring evening, with lots of walking, shoving through crowds and carrying gear, with a final long walk back to where Pete had parked his car (thanks for the lift Pete) but we were all very happy and very glad for the experience.

I was lucky enough to get a second visit as another a nephew, Chris Chamberlain, is a keen photographer and wanted to go. Chris is into infra red photography and I have asked him to send me an image or two which I will be happy to add to this blog at a later time. "Infra Red",  Sydney Harbour Bridge Infra Red Image by Christopher ChamberlainSydney Harbour Bridge (Now Added)

We decided to arrive in the Rocks area for some late afternoon photography and then stay for Vivid. This allowed me to capture some late evening images of the Harbour Bridge and some more shots of the city skyline - but this time while there was still some post-sunset light in the sky. These images are my favorites.


If you managed to make it to Vivid this year, I hope you also had a fun time and if you took some photos, I hope they will be good memories for the future. Please feel free to add "comments" and any tips and tricks you might like to share.

If you didn't get to Vivid This year I hope you enjoy some of my images which might encourage you to make it in 2016.

Photo Tips for Vivid:

  • Take a sturdy tripod and perhaps a Neutral Density filter if you plan on arriving before sunset. Long exposures allow you to Blur the moving water. Adds colour and focus to the buildings/structures. At night however, be aware that the lights display are rarely static so long exposures will muddy the displays. In this case, there is no other option but to use wide open apertures and experiment with the lowest possible ISO settings - to avoid "noise".
  • Use a cable release and even mirror lockup if you have it.
  • A wide to mid focal length lens probably suits best. I like fast zooms. However, whatever lens you decide on, I'll bet you regret not bringing both wide angle and telephoto. There is ample opportunity for using the whole kit.
  • Get on site at the most popular places early and pick your spot. Pretty soon you will be crowded out.