Category Archives: Sydney

New Angels on New Albion – aka Sydney

I have to apologise for not blogging much for the past month. I have ideas for articles and tutorials but haven’t found inspiration. Time has somehow slipped through my fingers, and winter depression kills my otherwise strong urge to write. So I’ll just stick to sharing a few photos this week and am even reusing a title and a few of the photos, talk about writers block!

Sydney was originally named New Albion which works with New Angles as a title – and I am always looking for new angles. I have visited Sydney 5 times and this gorgeous city always offers new light and new opportunities. Here’s a few from my visit in September 2008. The first two shots are from across the bridge (obviously!) at Kirribilli Point, a superb spot for sunrise. It is a wonderful feeling to stand in a city of millions at 5am in the morning witnessing first light – with not a single soul anywhere! Just you and the light, as if you’re part of this big secret and no one else is awake to know this is the best and most beautiful part of the day!

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

First Light in Sydney
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Morning in Sydney
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay in duotone
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Finally; as you get to know a place your images always improve and I reckon I made my favourite Sydney image ever on this, my 5th visit, and I think I even succeeded in capturing a New Angle on New Albion:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Opera House and Cityscape from Harbour Bridge
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The story behind this shot is here and a few more new Sydney shots are in my Sydney gallery. Enjoy the photos as I will work on unblocking the writer block!

Sydney; From Dawn till Dusk

Although it is a freezing cold 15 degrees as I write this; Sydney has warmed up to me and I to Sydney. Saturday and Sunday were very warm and summery, just as I like it and just as I apparently need it as I am a cold blooded reptile desperately in need of the sun. I still very much miss “my country” the outback, but after the culture and climate shock has settled down a bit then a little sun and fun goes a long way.

Still have to get back to “my country” soon. Feels like part of me is missing. Strange feeling. Like finding my home and knowing things will never be the same again. I keep looking at those Hawk Dreaming shots and dreaming.

Waking up the world

I spent Saturday with a friend and fellow photographer who lives in the Sydney suburb Manly and was shown this beautiful place she is fortunate to call home. We began the day at 5am on Manly Beach for a lovely sunrise; this shot is the beach at dawn:

Manly Beach at Dawn. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

No clouds this morning so just a normal beautiful Manly sunrise and a quite ordinary shot by me; but some good colours and the photo is a nice memory of a brilliant day. It is far from every day I get to stand on a beach and witness the sun rise out of the ocean; it is always a humbling and thrilling experience.

New angles on New Albion

In my quest to get a few cityscapes of Sydney (originally called New Albion) from new angles I also finally got a dusk shot of the city, shot from the Harbour bridge. I’ve had that shot in my head for a while and finally got around to shooting it. Took a bit of effort as the next story will tell, but the results I reckon are worth it. The duotone version is very nice but decided to post colour version for this post:

Sydney at dusk. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I like this new angle on Sydney as it has a very nice 3D effect to it and will look impressive printed big.

If it was easy everyone would do it

Sydney Harbour Bridge shootIt was a nice very warm Sunday but late afternoon the wind changed, it cooled down and it started blowing a gale. Very strong winds. But clouds looked interesting. I wanted a dusk shot of Sydney shot from the bridge and decided this was the day – the shot you see above is the end result. I vaguely remembered that it should be possible to manoeuvre a tripod into place shooting through the fence on the Harbour bridge. It was. Just. On the right you can see the result of 10 minutes of cursing the fence and finally getting the tripod legs stuck in the wire just right so I could have my 17-40mm lens peaking through. May look a bit flimsy but was very steady.

harbour bridge shot uncroppedThe camera is actually way over my head. Standing on my toes and jumping (kept me warm!) I could see through the viewfinder and kept shooting and adjusting till I had my composition. But wait. They fired back with a massive light cannon underneath the bridge shooting straight at me! Lots of light bleeding into my shot. So I use the lens cap (no room for lens hood) and hold it in place to shield the light – see uncropped shot on the right. Jumping to peak through the viewfinder, holding the lens cap into place, shooting using cable release and almost getting blown off the bridge in very windy conditions – sometimes ya gotta put in a bit of effort! I don’t mind battling Mother Nature’s crocs, mossies, rocks, snakes etc. but why oh why can’t the design of the Harbour bridge include a little shooting hole in the fence for photographers!

In the big smoke. Miss my country.

I am quoting Bill Neidjie again; writing about his country and why he loves the bush in his book ‘Story about Feeling’ he says:

“We like white man alright. We like im city.
But city make you sick of it. Better this…”

I am now hanging out with friends in the big smoke; in Sydney. It is a culture and climate shock indeed coming here from Darwin; Kimberleys and Hawk Dreaming. Sydney is gorgeous but I don’t really like it anymore. Too big, too busy, too narrow streets, too claustrophobic, too many cars, too much traffic, too many people. No aboriginal presence like in Darwin, no history, no art etc. It is not Australia to me. The real Australia is the outback. I think I am going more and more back to my roots. Have no need or use for cities anymore. Just want to go back to “my country” – the outback. City make you sick of it.

It is also bleedin’ feckin’ cold here! Only about 20 during the day and 10 at night; I am close to being in suspended animation. I am used to 35-40 during the day, 25-30 at night. I can deal with the high temperatures; I actually love it. I can’t deal with the cold. Used to walk around in shirt, shorts and thongs (flip-flops). Now I wear 4 layers of clothes. For the people back home that know me: Yes you read right. I wear thongs (known as flip-flops in rest of the world). I have the photos to prove it. I love ’em! I certainly still hate sandals with a passion! And Crocs shoes! Hate ’em even more! But thongs good!

I am here for a few days to hang out with new and old friends. I am actually staying in a super nice house with friends who are not here. I’m housesitting while they’re in Europe. Ironic! I will shoot a bit here; but already have lots of Sydney images so trying to capture something different this time like this one:

Sydney Duotone Panorama. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I shot a stitched version of this, this is just a single shot so I’d have something to post. I find myself more and more seeking some sort of art angle on my shots and becoming less and less interested in reality. It’s reality but not as we know it. I capture the data and already have the final image in mind when I shoot the photo; I visualize the end product before shooting; an end product usually quite different from the actual scene. I capture data; but the end product is created in the digital darkroom – in this case quickly thrown together in Lightroom 2.1. The original data is still the most important though. Garbage in means garbage out!

I spent a lot of time sitting in the sun in the back garden of the unit I live in. It’s very relaxing and quiet, you wouldn’t know central Sydney is a 10 minutes walk from here. There are small lizards in the garden I play with. Until I get cold. I still wake with the sun, meaning 5.45am here in Sydney. Miss my country.

Perfecting your stitched panoramas

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about stitched panoramas that focused mostly on all the little tricks you need to remember when you are shooting the soon to be stitched photos in the field. The shooting part is still essential. Get everything right in the field and you’ll be laughing come stitching time!

This post focuses on stitching the shots and is a tutorial showing you how I get from these 4 developed RAW files:

Sydney Panorama 4 tiff files

to this final photo as seen in my previous post:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Skyline at Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It’s a long tutorial, so I split this post in two; click the “Keep reading” link to, well, keep reading!

Continue reading

An Observer’s view of Sydney

I sometimes feel claustrophobic and stressed walking around Sydney. Not enough sense of space not enough  breathing room. Too many people. It is too big a city for me to actually be in; as always I am much more comfortable photographing and observing from a distance. In every city I instantly need to find spots with few people where I can see the horizon and observe from a distance.

Fortunately Sydney provides some very good spots to escape from the chaos and shoot some photos of one of most beautiful and picturesque harbours in the world. The Botanic Gardens is a perfect spot to escape and get a nice view; Kirribilli is another. Sitting directly opposite the city watching the sun rise or set is a lovely peaceful experience and a perfect place for Observers like me. And one of the best views of Sydney you will find and this is where we get to a panorama I recently dug out of the archives and stitched together:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Skyline at Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This panorama is stitched in PTgui from 4 horizontal raw files developed in Rawshooter; then polished in Photoshop. I had originally planned for this post to feature a complete and detailed run through of how I take the above panorama from 4 separate raw files to a final stitched panorama in PTgui and then apply the finishing touches in Photoshop.

Alas; not enough time in my world this particular Friday. So for now enjoy this view of Sydney and my next article will feature the Observer’s stitching tutorial!

8 meters of Sydney

A couple of months ago I sold an image file of my Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay Panorama to be used for an 8 meter wide display at the opening exhibition at the new Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark. The building is of course designed by the Danish Architect Jørn Utzon, famous for designing The Sydney Opera House. Last weekend I finally had a chance to visit the Utzon Center and see the print at the exhibition. It’s a very impressive building and wauv; the photographer who shot that 8 meter wide photo, he’s really something special, he’s a legend !!!

If you have a chance to visit the Utzon Center here’s what you will encounter:

Lucas and the Opera House

Well I doubt that my dear 2 year old nephew (who loves the camera!) will be there as he is in this shot, but get to the Utzon Center before 10th of September 2008 and the print will be there! Here’s a link to video of the photo (shot with my old crappy camera phone, sorry about the appalling quality).

They did a really impressive display, it’s mounted on a free standing custom built curved wall. The image pixel size was blown up 200% but when the print is viewed from two meters away the image appears sharp and the curved effect is like standing in the middle of Sydney (well, floating in mid air looking at Sydney actually). My original shot is here:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I was actually going to ask them what they planned to do with the print after the exhibition but after seeing how it’s mounted it wouldn’t really fit in my flat!

Sydney Harbour painted with light

Well, I did warn you dear reader that once I got my Wacom tablet I would be painting with light like it was going out of fashion! I guess I forgot to warn you that I would also be writing about it like writing was going out of fashion! Hence every second post now has ‘painted with light’ in the title and is about … painting with light (I desperately need a thesaurus!)

The latest RAW file to be run through my digital darkroom with newly added tablet is a sunset shot from Sydney from October 2007. It was a gorgeous sunset on a Friday night with some beautiful orange hues and a nice bit of cloud perfectly placed behind the city as seen from Milsons Point. I’ll kick things off with showing you the end result (click to see large):

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Harbour Bridge Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I am really happy with the result. I used painting with light subtly but I think the effect is remarkable. More about that in a bit.

One positive side effect to using the Wacom is that the digital darkroom in Photoshop is suddenly a lot more fun and so I am more creative. I always gave up trying to draw with a mouse  (try drawing a circle with a mouse, impossible) and always had to stop short of how I actually wanted the photo to look. But with the Wacom I just put the tablet in my lap, lean back in my chair and draw like it was pencil on paper. I used to draw a lot many (many!) years ago so using the Wacom feels very natural to me. I find I use it for a lot of different stuff in Photoshop, lasso tool, brush tool, masking etc.

So what did my digital darkroom add to the Sydney photo? Here’s a screenshot of the photo from Pixmantec Rawshooter (one day I’ll switch to Lightroom but I so love Rawshooter, it is so blindingly fast compared to the sluggish Lightroom):

sydney-rawshooter

I composed this using the 17-40 f/4.0 L lens on my Canon 5D with a cropped panorama in mind – I always intended to crop the bottom. The exposure is spot on so I didn’t need to do much in Rawshooter. I have warmed the white balance, added a bit of contrast, saturated the colours, applied a bit of colour noise reduction and reduced highlight contrast. I created the crop I wanted and I then export the photo to a 16 bit TIFF file for further digital darkroom work in Photoshop – this is where the fun begins:

  • I normally like water frozen in motion better than “long exposure” blurred water but in this case the water is bland. So I smoothed the water on a separate layer with a mask using a combination of motion blur and gaussian blur.
  • I used the lasso tool (using tablet) to make some selections for creating vignettes. I added a 200 pixel feather and on it’s own desaturated layer I blended in the vignette to create a darkened effect. I repeated this 4-5 times with different size vignettes, different “lassos” and I have the vignette I want.
  • And now “painting with light” (get me a thesaurus please!). Using different layers I use the dodge and burn tool on the tablet (with pen pressure set to change opacity) and I … paint with light! (there it is again).
  • I specifically put some light onto the bright areas of the bridge structure where the sun hits and I also brightened the buildings, especially the Opera House.
  • The top part of the sky was too blue, looking too much like daylight so I darkened it with a gradient layer and also desaturated a bit.

As I wrote earlier I am really happy with the result, I feel I accomplished what I wanted with this shot I actually made it look just the way I wanted. That doesn’t happen all that often, in fact that almost never happens. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my own work so there are always many details annoying me (why I stopped drawing years ago) but the tablet certainly is a new favourite tool in my digital darkroom. Now I just need a thesaurus.