Sydney Gold || Sunrise Over The Opera House

When I first started blogging about photography, I really hated getting up for sunrise shoots. I mean, what’s to love about it, right? It’s f@#king way too early and you have to wake up before the birds do when it’s full dark outside, just to stumble groggily towards your destination, hoping that the sky produces something beautiful and worthwhile… Wait, so where am I going with this? Oh yea, that’s right…

Behind-The-Scenes-Sydney-Opera-House-Sunrise-400pxNow, I love getting up early for sunrise shoots. After visiting so many world destinations I now understand that it’s the absolute best way to experience a place. Even excluding the (brilliant) photography opportunities, it’s a chance to be all alone in some of the most beautiful and visually stunning locations in the world. From Belem Tower in Lisbon, to The Colosseum in Rome, to The Mountain Top Spires of Meteora, all these places are best experienced on a personal level, when you’re all alone with just the sounds of the wind, and the soft bustling melody of the waking day.

As the sun rises over these stunning locations, all the aggravation of waking up at 4am disappears and you’re left with a perfect moment that’s almost spiritual in nature. Even if you’re not a photographer, I strongly suggest that you try it sometime. Go to Park Güell in Barcelona just as they open the gates at dawn. Experience the brilliance of Goudi’s Architecture before anyone else gets there. You will never forget it, I promise.

This particular shot was a specific goal of mine while I was in Sydney. The weather was very uncooperative while I was there so it took 3 (very groggy) 4am wake up calls in a row before I captured this beautiful sunrise. I can tell you that it wasn’t easy pulling myself out of bed at 4am and walking 30 minutes through the rain 3 mornings in a row, but on the 3rd morning, the sky opened up just for a few moments to produce this beautiful scene. I would have forgone a weeks worth of sleep to experience Sydney’s Opera House in this golden light. Was all that effort worth just this one, fleeting moment? I certainly think so, because for me it’s all about getting the shot. 🙂

Sydney Gold - (Australia)

Post-Processing Before And After

Anytime I shoot directly into the sun I make sure to auto bracket 9 exposures. That way I can be assured that I capture (at least) most of the detail in the extreme highlights. Since there is so much variation in light intensity coming from the background as opposed to the foreground, a larger range of exposures are needed to capture the entire scene. In this case the sky is a blend of exposures -2 and -4, while the foreground is a blend of exposure 0 for the water and exposure +2 for the Opera House. After that, some simple color correction and contrast adjustments were added to bring back a bit of the subtle colors and details. This was all done with simple masking and adjustment layers. No plugins were harmed in the making of this photo. 😉