IN PICTURES: Vivid Live 2014, part 3, Sydney Harbour Bridge (20 photos)

An amateur photographer's journey through an illuminated city
Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Luna Park side, Kirribilli | 
Settings: F8, ISO 125, 15 seconds

Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Luna Park side, Kirribilli |
Settings: F8, ISO 125, 15 seconds

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is as iconic a symbol of the Harbour City as any. The Coathanger is also an integral part of the Vivid Festival each year and attracts flocks of photographers armed with tripods and all sorts of accessories aiming to get that one dream shot.

Here are my attempts. But first some background and technical details.

Vivid Live 2014 is the biggest, brightest and most involving chapter yet of the festival that invigorates Sydney's late autumn/early winter, each year.

Vivid is all about art and technology, the relationship between them, and the projection of the end result of their fusion. It involves, challenges and beautifies. It reflects culture and extends the relationship between man and machine. It casts multimedia to the wind and sees what happens when it settles.

The streets are filled with people carrying smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras of every shape and size, tripods, even the odd Go-Pro. No wonder intel is a major sponsor.

Vivid captures how we interact with technology and how technology through art can illuminate our environment.

For me it is wonderful opportunity as an amateur photographer to play in Alice's Wonderland.

This year, I decided to tackle the majority of Vivid Live - outside of shooting the Sydney Harbour Bridge - with a very simple set up. My Canon EOS 7D camera, fitted with a Canon ultra wide angle 10-22mm lens.

An ultra wide angle lens can give you some edgy results. It is noted for barrel distortion when wide open at 10mm - not that this is a problem for anybody who likes their photos straight up and down; it is easily fixed in Photoshop. But that's exactly what I didn't want to do. I wanted to use that distortion and the lovely effect it throws to add to already edgy installations, light shows and spirit of Vivid.

The great thing about the 10-22mm lens is the distortion is non-existent from 14mm onwards. So you get the best of both worlds.

I carted a tripod with me and used it for probably 30 per cent of the shots - including all the images in this album - you will see in the slideshows that will make up this series. The rest of the photos are shot hand held.

I used, in the main, settings of f4 to f7.1 with the ISO generally around the 1200-1600 mark, spinning down to 400-800 if I could, and exposures from 1/8-1/30, across the full range of 10-22mm

On a few occasions I went the other way - on tripod shots. Basically, I wanted to get the lovely depth you get on long exposures mixed with mid range f-stops and ISO at 100 to 200.

For this collection of Bridge shots, I mostly shot 10-25 second exposures at f7.1-f8.0 and ISO 125-250. Everything was shot, of course, in RAW format. You can shoot even more extreme and say use f20 with ISO 400 and a 30 second exposure.

There are also some photos which are quite distinguishable shot at f4.5-5.6, ISO400-650 and a speed of 2-5 seconds. They are the amid the shots of the Bridge and Luna Park. Look at the water: the long exposures have that smooth, flowing look; the shorter exposures with a higher ISO are grainier and the water is more lifelike as there is less movement captured within the exposure period.

The final three shots - the side on images of the Bridge - were shot using a Canon 24-105mm lens.

All images were processed in Canon's native Digital Photo Professional suite using the High Dynamic Range tool on some occasions to bring out the luminosity captured in the RAW format. Any further processing needed was done in Adobe Photoshop which has an excellent camera RAW tool.

The slideshows are broken down into four distinct sets: 1. Martin Place - with all its installations; 2. The area around Circular Quay, the old Passenger Terminal and Opera House; 3. The Sydney Harbour Bridge; 4. Darling Harbour.

Remember, I'm an amateur so whatever I've managed to capture is within the reach of anybody with a relatively decent camera. Or you can do what a lot of people were doing: blast away on a smartphone or tablet.

Larger versions of the photos in the slideshow can be seen on my Flickr page.