17 July 2011

Sydney Winter

We've had a fairly long period of cold, dry days this winter. Morning temperatures in the west of Sydney, where I live, have hovered close to freezing (0°C) just before dawn. I decided to take advantage of the clear and colourful dawn skies to photograph the city skyline.
There's a road that runs across the top of a ridge from which you get an unobstructed view of the city. This is about 30 km as the crow flies. I haven't found any other place that gives me a clear view of the city skyline. If you know of other places, then I'd love you to drop me a line. I've been in buildings in Burwood that have a great view of the city, but they aren't generally accessible.
My first photos looked OK, but I was rather disappointed to find out that they were out of focus! This is a mistake I don't often make nowadays. I was using a 2x teleconverter on my 200mm lens and I thought I had either badly missed the hyperfocal point (about 700m) or the morning breeze was stronger than I thought.
So I went back a second day, made sure I focused on the city buildings themselves and stood below the ridge line to avoid any interference from the morning breeze.
And I still had blurred buildings!
On closer inspection, I realised that I was seeing blurring caused by temperature variations, not poor focussing! The changing air density and long distance was causing a shimmering effect similar to what you get on hot summer days. The way I picked this up was by noticing changes in the building outlines as I looked at photos taken within a few seconds of each other.
So I've accepted that the atmospheric conditions and large magnification (an effective lens size of 600mm) can cause blurring.
Here are the photos I've kept from the two sessions.
Sydney Dawn 1
What I like about this photo is the colour range you get going from blue, through green to orange and red. I'm always amazed to find green in the sky, which only happens for a short time during dawn and dusk.

This landscape image has a simpler colour palette:
Sydney Dawn 2
Here's a snippet of the fully magnified image of the Sydney Tower showing the blurring:

You can see some other recent photos taken in Sydney in the City gallery.


  1. Love the choice of subject balance (vertical distribution) in Sydney Dawn 1. And how intriguing that Centrepoint so literally is....

  2. ..Love the Sydney Dawn 1... looks awesome!!

  3. Cold shimmers... Awesome.
    Superb photos as always, fatther mine.
    Funny I use that same blue-yellow-red palette in my heatmaps cause it's so darn pretty.

  4. Thanks for the comments. If the skyline wasn't in the photos they wouldn't be half as interesting. I love the way God's creation plays with man's creation to create something new and beautiful.