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Feature Image by: James Dvorak

How to capture the magic of Vivid Sydney in photographs

Vivid Sydney is guaranteed to be paradise for photographers of all abilities. We’re speaking from experience here! Sink your teeth into these photography tips from the Canon Collective, which will help you hit the ground running once you arrive at the festival.

Keep Your Camera Steady

It’s important to keep your camera still when taking low-light photos. And since most of the action of Vivid Sydney happens after sunset, this is your first consideration. Emma Desira suggests “using a sturdy tripod with a two-second timer—or cable release.” 

Image from Colin Baker

Use Manual Mode

You need total control over your camera settings to capture the large dynamic range of Vivid Sydney’s light and music shows. If you’re still finding the confidence to get off auto, below are a few camera settings to get started with when photographing the event.

Adjust Your Aperture

Narrow down your aperture to ensure you have a suitable depth of field to ensure detail is captured throughout the entire frame. Emma says that “your aperture can be used creatively: a narrow depth of field—somewhere between f/11 and f/22—will accentuate detail throughout your entire frame and help create a starburst effect.”

Set Your Shutter Speed

As you can imagine, Vivid Sydney's light projections move at the speed of light, so use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and get sharp images. Start with a shutter speed of 1/30th or 1/15th of a second. If you’d like to get creative with blurred photos of the lights and people, try slowing down your shutter speed to 10 seconds or more.

Canon Photographer Jenn Cooper

Tune in Your ISO

Keep your ISO nice and low. This will minimise the amount of light entering your camera’s sensor and allows you to slow down your shutter speed without risk of over exposing your images. “With a slow shutter speed you can capture movement within the frame, just don’t forget a sturdy tripod,” says Emma.

Canon Photographer Jay Collier

Consider Composition

When composing your photos, remember to allow space for elements surrounding the main subject. Emma recommends, “leaving plenty of room for the fireworks above the horizon. And if shooting over water, leave space for the reflections.”

Image from Emma Desira

Tame Your Trigger Finger

Many photographers shoot continuously without monitoring the results, which often results in average quality photographs. The beauty of the Vivid Sydney light projections is that they are often played on a loop. If you spend a few moments to watch and get familiar with each scene, you will be able to plan, frame and anticipate each shot with more accuracy.

Let Yourself Be Spontaneous

Ultimately it’s all about having fun and capturing the light shows from your unique perspective. Don’t be afraid to try something different or to play around with a variety of different camera settings. Stay alert so that you’re ready to capture moments of spontaneity, whether it’s something happening in the audience or as part of the show. Don’t be afraid to scope out your own vantage points. “Once you’ve determined all the obvious positions, explore the city and find locations and vantage points no-one’s using,” encourages Canon Photographer Colin Baker.

Canon Photographer Jenn Cooper

Get Your Photos Taken Early

Vivid Sydney is set to be an explosive event, but although the fireworks will look beautiful in your photographs, they will also cause a lot of smoke. “Taking your shots early on ensures you get nice crisp black skies,” Emma suggests.  

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