Up on the roof in Sydney, took some begging. Yet I was allowed to stay up there for a fare while. Which was just as well because these things take time to perfect. I was using a Canon 70d Vanguard Alta pro and various lenses.

Sometimes being low down is the perfect angle to shot a city line. However sometimes its nice to get up nice and high. Whilst I was staying in Sydney I asked if I could get permission to go up on the roof for the purpose of taking some crazy, city at night shots. I always prefer to ask and usually get permission at all sorts of different locations. My Kit is now collected and so off I wandered “up on the roof” as the Drifters would say. When doing night time shots I like to use my vanguard Alta pro 263 AT tripod as it is a very sturdy unit, plus if I need to extend the height I can. It also allows me to do multi angled shots with its wide and diverse leg potions. Also, I tried a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle yet decided to use the Canon 18/55mm EF-S f/3.5/5.6 kit lens. Only because I was getting difficulties with the wind effecting the shots. I mounted it upon the Canon 70D. Sometimes I will add an ND filter and this will give the water a smooth soft affect. Which gives a great light reflection of buildings against water and pretty much whatever you are photographing if one is trying to avoid the movement of other things. 

See fig 1. in this shot I have not used any ND filter just mounted on the Vanguard Alta tripod. When zoomed in the picture has a fare amount of noise, which if enlarging this would be evident. Although the slower shutter speed with a 2 sec delay timer (built in to the canon 70D) to remove any camera shake when pushing the trigger button. I could have used either my WIFI connection on my iPhone as Canon have a good app for this, or I could have used a remote trigger. But once again using the wired trigger will increase the potential for transferred movement when the wind catches it. So please bare in mind that whenever do long exposure shots to be vigilant of wind conditions as the slightest breeze will potentially ruin a shot. 

Avoid distractions

For the purpose of this shot I have left the balcony bars in. “Why?”, I hear you say! Well, this is to show you that the simplest thing that you might not be aware of can unbalance a picture and create a very distracting, and unwanted extras into a shot. Using the Canon 18/55mm EF-S f3.5/5.6 lens @f/11 helps with sharpness in both the foreground and background. Although, in this particular shot it picks up detail and texture in the bars. Using the view through the lens you sometimes miss these little bits as you are most likely looking through the past any distractions. Hey its easily done! Using the live view screen will also let you manually focus on the subject you want in focus. It also helps to visually see that being aware through the viewer or in live screen to make sure that those unneeded little extras that could or will detract from what could be the difference of a wow check this shot out. Or the oh yeah, another holiday snap. Let’s be honest if you can impress you buddies with a cracking shot it means you are heading in the right direction. 

Sydney Night photography
Fig 1. Settings- speed 0.5 sec, @ f/11, iso 5000, Canon 18/55mm EF-S f3.5/5.6 lens

Always be aware of the entire picture when taking photographs as sometimes returning to a location can be impossible, and if you edit the offending bits out you can loose huge amounts of information about the location. When if you had only moved forward a few feet you could have avoided it. 

Australia night photography
Fig 2 .Settings: 20.0secs, @f/11, iso 125, Canon 18/55mm EF-S f3.5/5.6 lens, with An ND10 filter

Long exposure

Fig 2, is the same view however this time I have moved the few feet forwards to avoid the balcony. I also added the 10 stop Nd filter to give the soft water. This means I can take a much longer exposure giving the smoother water effect.  Adding the filters can also remove any moving objects from a scene boats people anything that can distract from the finished piece. 

As you can see the reflections on the water are clearer and give more depth to the picture. Yet once again when taking the long exposure especially at 20.0seconds wind will play a massive part in ruining all your hard work if you aren’t careful.   


I decided that this scene would benefit greatly from taking a series of shots and then in the course of time later doing some picture editing and stitching them together, or stacking as its otherwise called. Lots of todays software will have this function. I would like to add it takes a huge amount of time and effort out of the procedure of alignment by yourself. Which as far as I’m concerned is a bonus. Anything that makes the job of photography easier is a win. Yet woe be it for me to save anyone time and effort in the pursuit of perfection.  

I took a series of 9 photographs with the mind to be combining them to make one larger picture. If this is something that you have a mind to do, we will be adding a tutorial on how this can be done. In the next few weeks, so please stay tuned. Quick heads up its easy!

Night panorama
Fig 3. stitched panorama from 9 frames. 

In fig 3, this is what can be achieved, it’s a much bigger file size and all the hard work has been done by using the software to automatically stitching the 9 pictures together. However, as I said we will go into more depth on this subject in another tutorial. So, if you have a collection of a series of old photos taken from a single location, they could possibly be joined together to create a wide landscape shot. 

My Kit

Vangard Tripod
Canon 70D