SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE & SYDNEY CITY PHOTO SHOOT

Jana contacted me one day in the hopes I could work with her on a photo shoot in the city of Sydney.  Jana is from Germany and has spent the last year living in Australia.  She told me that for a long time, she was fascinated with the idea of visiting Australia and she fell in love with Sydney as soon as she arrived.   The photo shoot was a way for her to remember herself in 2015 as she was when she had taken this amazing journey to the bottom of the world.  Jana asked to be photographed outside the iconic Sydney Opera House as she felt it encapsulated Sydney in one building - I agree, there is nothing that says 'Sydney' like the Opera House!  So with this in mind, we set out to create a shoot that would help her remember herself at this time of her life in the city and country she has grown to love.  

For the photographers out there hoping to know how I lit this shoot on my own with no assistant, only using natural reflectors, read on and I will give you some tips on how I did it...

We started off in  a quiet area of the city which gave us a chance to get to know each other and for Jana to relax in front of the camera.  Jana was a natural as you can see...

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I am not kidding, this shot below was one of the first shots I took.  Check out those eyes too!  I did not have an assistant on the shoot, so no flex-fill to bounce light back into her eyes.  I used what I had - lots of sun!  By placing her on the edge of a shaded area under a tree, there was no direct light on her face and then using the concrete as a natural reflector, I was able to bounce tons of light back into her face and eyes.  The reason there is no ugly green cast from the tree is because she is right on the edge of the shaded tree.  If I placed her too deep under the tree, the light changed immediately.

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Placed in the shade again - deeper shade this time, but I had two things in my favour.  Across the road was a little thing called Syndey Harbour...this big body of water was literally glistening in the sun and bouncing around tremendous amounts of light.  The other thing on my side was the concrete - nice and neutral means no ugly light casts.

As we walked toward the Opera House, we would stop whenever I found something interesting - which was quite often!  Along the path under the Sydney Harbour bridge are some great walls - this spot below begged to be photographed.  Inside were some steps leading up to a pathway under the bridge... 

We kept walking and stopped right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge...

For those of you wondering about lenses and settings - two lenses were used that day...the 35mm 1.4L and 50mm 1.4EF - the only non-L lens in my kit, but I still love it!  Most images were shot at around f2.8.  I shot manually all day at around 100 ISO.

We walked some more and this was our last stop before the Opera House.  No photographer can walk past the light you see in the image below.  The interplay of light, tree, road, building was too appealing to walk by...

It was later in the day by the time we arrived at the Sydney Opera House and all I can say is I am sooo glad!!! Did I mention it was VERY HOT the day of our shoot?  Thankfully, the sea breezes from Sydney Harbour kept us sane and comfortable, but when you are standing on concrete with no shade that is being blasted by the sun, it gets uncomfortable very quickly.  I sweated and Jana was a trooper.  I think we were having too much fun to care, really!

For those interested in the technicalities...yes it was bright with no shade.  I just used it to my advantage and saw it as a giant light reflector bouncing lovely light into her face.  I used the sun as a prop in the images, moving at times to tuck it neatly behind the Opera House 'sails' or at other times allowing the flare to skirt into the image.  Sometimes I used my hand to block the sun from causing the lens to have too much flare.  Basically, I mixed it up!!

We often see the SOH from afar, so for those of you who have never seen it, I'm hoping you are enjoying the different perspective you see of the Opera House in these images.  For those of you who didn't know, those are tiles that give her sails that glistening white that you see.

I love the comradery you experience at the SOH.  There are tourists from all over the world, speaking all sorts of languages.  We were approached a few times by people asking me to take pictures of them with their smart phones.  One woman commented on how bright it was and she said she was from Dubai and it was still bright for her.  That is one thing you notice about Australia when you hop off the plane - it is intensely bright here!  

Well, needless to say it was a great day and I am so glad Jana chose me to help her remember this time of her life.  She will carry these memories of her time in Australia for the rest of her life and I am so glad that she has these images to help her remember this time!  I just love the the ability photography has to hold on to time - as we know, time slips by soooo fast.  All the best returning home to Germany, Jana!  Stay in touch, Nxx

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For more images of Jana and others like this, head on over to my Seniors page.