2015 A ‘Click’ of Photographers

MeetupSunday – Meetup groups seem to be all the rage!  Trying to find one that will satisfy and excite your interests while not costing an arm and a leg and sounding geared up for professionals is near on impossible.  Before you all get too excited – I am talking photography meetup groups.

I already know how to use my camera and what each setting is for – I only need to practice and polish up and meet like wise people who want to do the same.  The old web search provides me with a hopeful answer – Travel + Photography Meetup & Tours.  Sounds good so far.  The people who operate the Meetup – Paul and Helen seem like nice down to earth people who will not overly try to impress or confuse me with professional jargon – the info tells me that they are ‘passionate Professional Travel Photographers with over 50 years combined in the industry. They have travelled worldwide capturing images that have been used in countless publications including Nat Geo, and have self-published 5 books’.

Meetup WalkSounds good to me so I sign up for my first Meetup – a photo walk from Observatory Hill to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – which is listed for around 4 hours.  That’s a long way – hope my tootsies hold up – – I am really looking forward to this.  To follow on from this we can then proceed to the Cahill Expressway to take some more night shots if we wish.

Friday night sees me putting the batteries on charge – making sure the lenses are packed – camera sitting on top of bag so that I don’t forget it and soon I am dreaming of the many, many photos I will be taking of my favourite harbour.

Saturday dawns clear with sunny, blue skies although the weather experts (ha that’s a contradiction in terms) tell us that showers may occur later this afternoon. Bit like saying the moon may come up tonight!

All the gear is packed- batteries in the camera and I am away to Padstow to catch the train into Circular Quay – everything is going to plan!

The harbour sparkles as I arrive and then it is time to take a nice leisurely stroll up to Observatory Hill.  Along George Street through The Rocks, left at Argyle Street, up the hill to the top of the road and then across the road and up the stairs to the Observatory.  The knees are holding up surprisingly well (must be all that exercise on my steps at home) and in no time I am taking in those wonderful views of my Bridge and my Harbour.

View from Observatory HillQuite a few people are here just enjoying the sunshine and views and of course I am early so finding some shade, I too am soon enjoying the view.  It is just great to sit under the shade of a big old fig tree until one humungous ant decides to have a taste of my forearm.  Nasty blighter – well that shows him – squashed into oblivion.  What have I got to put on the bite? Nothing except for some lip balm so let’s give that a go – it seems to work.  Let’s hope I don’t have some allergic reaction!

The PavillionWe are to meet at the little Pavillion around 2pm – I do hope they have a sign or it could turn ugly if I go around saying to all and sundry ‘are you here for the meetup?’

Soon I notice a couple turn up with camera gear so I think ah-ha this must be them so I saunter casually over and yep – they have a sign saying Meetup.

I introduce myself and am made to feel welcome.  They are nice people and this is going to be a good day – I can tell.  Many of them have ‘metup’ before but that doesn’t matter – they are all friendly.

As a side bit of interest there is to be a wedding here – and I am so glad that the weather is wonderful.  As we are waiting for the bride to arrive we hear the sound of bagpipes coming from the Garrison Church below.  Another wedding – we are surrounded!  Anyway, back to business.

Lower Fort StreetGarrison ChurchAfter the remainder of the group arrive we set off and head down Lower Fort Street, past the Garrison Church and lots of really interesting terrace houses to Pier One.  I have not been to Pier One for years. Last time I was here it was a shopping mall – now it is an upmarket restaurant and bar. 

The hand prints etc are still there and it is really a surprise to see that the Rolf Harris one has not been dug up and is still on show.  I will say no more.

Ben LexcenPro HartPhotos abound (but not of Harris) and then we set off again, under the Harbour Bridge and around the foreshore, past the hotels and restaurants with our goal – the higher levels of the Overseas Passenger Terminal where we can take some shots of the Opera House.

The CoathangerSydney Opera HouseYou will have to agree that this is a great harbour.

Ferries coming and going, sailboats, water taxis – what a busy place but everyone seems to get out of the way of each other (well, so far).  After about 20 minutes it is time to proceed to the Opera House and get some photos looking back this way.  But first – nothing better than a stitched landscape or two eh?

Sydney HarbourCircular QuayHave I said what a great day this is? OK – no need to yell.  Still no sign of the predicted showers – and time to move on around past Circular Quay station (and the wonderful aromas of food), past the ferries to the steps of the Opera House.  Here we can rest our tootsies or climb the steps to take some more photos.

Opera sailsI opt to take a couple more photos because I know if I sit down I will not get back up!  Saturday is the day for weddings in Sydney I am convinced of it.  First we had the Asian and Scottish weddings back at The Rocks and now we have Indian and looks like Middle Eastern weddings here.  All the brides have looked lovely – although some of the colours in the bridal parties are a bit garish.  Oh well, each culture to itself I suppose.

Rested enough – our numbers have decreased to around 10 – so we patter along through the Botanic Gardens and end up at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – right on the point.  This place is one of the best vantage points in Sydney to see the New Years Eve Fireworks.  No thanks – too many people for me on that night.  Now if I could get a spot by myself – but who am I kidding?

We have about 30 minutes or so before the sun sets so the shutters are clicking away making use of what light we have and the colours of the clouds etc.  Time to use our brains and decide what settings are best.

SunsetSunsetAren’t these great photos? BUT who gave permission for some money hungry persons to build that bloody building that shows up under the bridge?  Sorely tempted to Photoshop it out but I will leave that for later.

Sydney HarbourHarbour lightsWe have headed back towards the entrance gates to the Gardens and of course, we stop and take some more photos.  The light is great and the weather is great and the harbour is great.  What more could you want?  I have always wanted to take night photos of the harbour but have been a bit on the apprehensive side travelling around here by myself – but I now have a small group with me so that gives me added confidence.

Harbour lightsI am having a great time and I am sure that the other happy clickers are doing the same (we are reduced to 6), unfortunately we do not keep a track of time and the Ranger has come and locked us out of our return route through the Gardens.  This means we have to trek uphill and over the park and come out near the Art Gallery.  But it has a good side – we get to take light trails!  I have not done this before and Paul and Helen are most helpful in giving us tips on how to achieve the right settings –

Eastern DistributorIt’s a shame that there is not a great deal of traffic – too early for some pleasure seekers as it is only around 6pm.  Maybe around 9 or 10 there would be more but I am not going to wait around until then.  It is also difficult to get the right spot to place the camera – any further right and you get the dirty big iron beams across the road – any further left and you don’t get the oncoming traffic.  Photography is not an easy pastime.

Time to head back to Circular Quay and we have to go down Phillip Street (thanks again to Ms Ranger) but the walk is pleasant.  The Quay area is still busy but all the buskers seem to have disappeared, some times that is a good thing.

Taking the lift up to the Cahill Expressway Walkway you get great views of the quay and surrounds.  When you get out of the lift – turn right and follow the pathway up towards The Rocks area, where you can get the bridge, Opera House, the Quay and The Rocks area all in the one shot!  Whacko!!!   The camera is set up on my trusty tripod – the settings have been put in place and away I go.

Streaky boatNo streaky boatLong exposures to 30 seconds – sometimes the passing boats streak up the photo – sometime you are lucky not to have any come into the shot. Experiments with the differences in light – –

Too much light?Right light?too much?  not enough?

Experiment with star filters – – it is getting late and time to pack up our gear and head back down to the Quay so we can go our own ways home.  I have walked nearly 15km today but it is only when I try to get up on the train to get off at my stop do I notice it.  I think my legs have seized up – which is a message from them to do a bit more walking before doing this again.

This has been a great day with good people – all wanting to learn how to improve their photography and Paul and Helen have been so unselfish in the sharing of their knowledge.

Can’t wait for the next one – rumour has it that Cockatoo Island is on the list!

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