The Vivid Light Festival is a highlight on the Sydney event calendar each year. According to the event website it is a “festival of light, music and ideas” and, in my opinion, will blow your mind. There are many festivals like this around the world, but this year’s Vivid took things to a whole new level. It is so much more than just images being projected onto buildings with some music playing.
I am so fortunate to live in Sydney now, which means I have seen the build-up and I have seen all the footage on the news over the last couple of weeks that it has been on.
Last weekend, my mum and two friends came to visit from Brisbane. We even planned it for that particular weekend because Vivid was on. However, we were so unlucky and the weather was terrible! The east coast of Australia got hammered with storms and sadly damaged some of the Vivid installations. The night we planned to head out, all of the installations were closed so just the projections were on. We still had a fantastic night but it meant I was determined to head out again to see it!
Finally, after a week of working at night, I got out to see it. And so did 10,000 other people!
I have a brand new tripod for my camera, and what better way to test it out than at a night festival like Vivid?
I started by walking through The Rocks, hoping to get some cool photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge…
Then I walked along the water and watched the beautiful animations that play out on the Opera House. This is an incredible performance. The Opera House is transformed into a giant canvas with birds, turtles, flowers, and various Aboriginal artworks that animated and move together to create this spectacular visual performance on this beautiful Australian icon. I was mind blown, it was absolutely stunning!
I was so glad to have this new tripod. Anyone who has ever taken night photos will know how hard it can be to take a clear photo in the dark. I have often been seen almost lying on the ground or leaning in awkward positions to be able to stabilise my camera. Not anymore! Well, not as much anyway!
Look at these photos of the Opera House that I was able to get, I can’t pick my favourite!
Next was the walk along Circular Quay. They have set up installations all along the harbour called The Vivid Light Walk. Fighting my way through the thousands of locals and tourists, I found some beautiful and intriguing structures. Finally, I got to see the installations that were turned off during the storm.
There was a spinning dodecahedron structure with different colour glass panels. This was a fun opportunity to play with the shutter speed on my camera.
Taking photos of the installations was a bit difficult as there was just ssoooo many people out, so I ended up just enjoying most of them rather than stopping crowds to take photos.
This next installation was interactive. The crowd could log on to a website and set up the designs that they wanted to see. Apparently, people just wanted to see single colours so I didn't get to take a photo with all the fancy colours. But even in monochrome, it looks beautiful.
Another part that I absolutely LOVED was a combination of an installation and a projection. Cadman's Cottage, the oldest residential building in Sydney, is transformed into the "Impossible Voyage". The audience can stand on a walkway in front of the cottage and see themselves as ghost like forms that become a part of a projection that spans the entire face of the cottage. These ghosts are taken on a journey through different landscapes that the participants can interact with.
I spent so long as this installation trying to work out how they manage to make this work, it was so beautiful. If you know, I would LOVE for you to comment and let me know!
The city buildings are lit up with multicoloured lights projecting from the ground, and paint is dripping all over the Museum of Contemporary Art.
This funky light sculpture was another interactive sculpture. You could walk through this curvy tunnel of LED lights, waving your arms to make the lights change. I think it would have been nice if they added some funky house music, it would have made more of a night club feel and encouraged people to move around a bit more. A lot of people didn't read the description before going through so they didn't realise it was interactive. But it was still pretty funky.
I think a lot of people missed out by not reading the descriptive panels, although sometimes it was hard. You could see a lot of people trying to guess how to make the installations do the different things that they were designed too but ended up giving up and leaving.
It also gave a lot more meaning to the installations. A great example of this is one area that was a circle of poles that spun in the ground, on the top of each pole was an orange flag and a bright light. Confused? So was I! But when I read the description I found out that it was inspired by the first known landing of Europeans in Australia. How cool!
So next up was the Royal Botanical Gardens. I was very excited for this part, because I had seen and read so much about it.
I knew there was the "Cathedral of Lights" and I was hanging out to see this. Apparently, so was half of Sydney so I had to wait among a large crowd, I was like a kid in a candy store waiting! Took these photos of the walkway while I was waiting ...
Oh Em Gee! The Cathedral of Light was definitely worth the wait!
A gorgeous archway of light that seemed endless. Made entirely of fairy lights, my favourite!
Once I got closer I realised they were just any fairy lights. THEY WERE FLOWER FAIRY LIGHTS! Thousands and thousands of flowers connected together and structured to form a beautiful archway of light. It was a dream to walk through. Even though there was hundreds of people around me, I felt like I was completely alone. It was absolutely stunning, I wanted to stay for ever!
By this time, it was almost time to turn the lights off so the organisers were rushing us through which was a bit disappointing but I made the most of the brief time I had there.
The Royal Botanical Gardens is celebrating its 200th birthday this year and they are embracing the celebrations. It was absolutely great to see them get so involved in Vivid.
Happy Birthday Botanical Gardens!!
The last thing I was able to see before the lights turned off was a stunning tree that had amazing artwork being projected onto it. I really enjoyed photographing this, it was definitely a test of my skills because the projections were animated and it was so dark that focusing was difficult.
I played with shutter speed and got some photos ranging from 1 second to 15 seconds. The 15 second exposure probably went for a little too long but I think it still makes for a pretty creative photo. The trunk of the tree looks like it is alive and having a party! These photos are in order of the shutter speed, from quickest to longest. Let me know what you think, I always love feedback :)
Overall, this was an incredible event. I think everyone should find the time to visit! It is on every night for a whole three weeks, so there is no excuse for not getting there for those who live in Sydney.
Fingers crossed next year my friends can come back and the storms stay away!
Please let me know what you think of any of my photos, I love to learn new techniques and hear critiques on my work. And don't forget to like my Facebook follow my Instagram.