Not quite sure where the week went, but it’s Saturday again already so I guess it went somewhere!
I’ve picked something a little different to share with you today.
It’s a view of the Sydney skyline that intrigued me for a long time before I got around to photographing it.
For two years I travelled this stretch of road on my way to and from work and I was always fascinated with this view towards the harbour bridge.
For a brief moment and from a very specific angle, the harbour bridge would appear nestled in amongst the city buildings as if there was no river in between its two ends.
After a few months of going up and down this road, I realised that where this trick-of-the-eye occurred there was a footbridge across the highway – and it looked perfect for capturing this view.
Of course, it was about another 6 months until I actually got around to going here and photographing it (a big case of do-it-later-itis).
But eventually, I made the effort to find the footbridge on google maps and how to get there, and went back into the city after work to give it a shot.
As an added bonus when I got up there, I realised the Sydney Opera House was visible too and like the bridge it had the appearance of being nestled in amongst all the surrounding buildings when in reality it’s surrounded by water on three sides… (Look to the left of the frame – it’s easy to miss!).
I took a bunch of shots before and after this one, spanning from late golden-hour to fully dark, but I liked this one the most because it was dark enough to capture the light trails from the cars, yet bright enough to still see the buildings in detail.
Earlier shots (even using an ND filter to allow a long exposure) the light trails didn’t stand out because they weren’t bright enough in comparison to everything else.
Later shots, the sky went black and the buildings became shadows. There were more lights on inside the buildings, which was interesting, but it wasn't enough to make up for the lack of ambient light.
Leaving the shutter open for longer would have brightened the buildings a little in the dark, but the highlights (window lights, lights trails etc) would all over-expose.
(Come to think of it, I seem to remember using a grad filter upside down to prevent the lights in the foreground over-exposing in this photo, even at dusk when everything else is still relatively bright… So later shots would have suffered from this issue even more)
The exposure time for this shot was 6 seconds – just long enough to capture movement in the cars’ lights, but not so long that they all completely blur and merge into one big blob (with the help of the grad filter!).
And given that the image was shot at dusk, I tried to stay true to that when processing it in PS.
It can be tempting with these kinds of night-time city shots to whack the brightness up and almost turn it into a daytime scene with lots of glorious detail and colour (much like the typical HDR plugin would produce).
But I made the conscious effort to keep the exposure relatively subtle and on the darker side.
Allowing the lights from the cars to remain the brightest element and lead the eye into the shot from the bottom left, up through the image and towards the main subject, the harbour bridge.
Also, the colour balance needed a bit of work, removing some green and bringing out the blues in the sky to give it a nice cool dusk feel.
Nothing out of the ordinary though, when running the image through my usual workflow.
If you want to give yourself something to dig into over the weekend…