In my last post, about being prepared when doing some travel photography, I talked a little bit about my short time in Sydney, Australia. I will have more to say about Sydney in following posts. In this post I wanted to talk a little bit about the first stop on my trip, Buenos Aires. To be honest, this was the first time I was able to travel out of the country. Unless going to Tijuana for the day counts. I had no idea what to expect.
Buenos Aires is a visually inspiring city. Once I made it through the stern faced man in customs I made my to the taxis to get a lift into the city center. With all the windows down the summer heat blowing in all the windows, we made our way down the freeway with the shiny steal and glass buildings of downtown Buenos Aires in the distance. Concrete buildings stacked with balconies covered in drying cloths and satellite dishes whizzed by the window. My photo mind was really stimulated.
The architecture in the city center is wonderful. From old european looking buildings with narrow stone paved streets to new sparkeling sky scrappers. I was excited to get some nice black and white photos of the area. I only had a few days to spend in Buenos Aires and I was limited to the area I could get too on foot. Luckily for me I was in a really cool area for photographing. I was staying in the Puerto Madero commercial district, where the famous Puente de la Mujer bridge is.
I was able to get out a few evenings and get some long exposures of the bridge. The weather was great and the area was full of activity with great dining and things to do. Above is one of the final images I made before I left for Sydney.
From my previous post I talked a little bit about a long international trip I took in January. The trip took me to Buenos Aires and Sydney for two weeks of client meetings for my day job. Because I had to pack so light I was limited in how much gear I could take along with me. See my last post on what I took along here.
While planning my meetings I discovered that I would be in Sydney for the 200th celebration of Australia Day. I had no idea what Australia Day was so I did some research and discovered it is similar to the 4th of July in the U.S. “What luck” I thought, “Maybe I could get a killer night shot of fireworks going off over the Opera House!”. That was my plan…
So I began planning my shot by looking at google maps and satellite views of the area looking for good vantage points. They all had to be within walking distance from my hotel since I would be on foot for the entire duration of my stay in Sydney. There are several vantage points in which I could have chosen to shoot from but I narrowed it down to three. I would scout the area before Australia Day to make my final selection.
Now, when I arrived I was able to get to my selected sites and asked some colleagues where the fireworks would be set off from. Turns out this was billed as the largest fireworks display in the world, ever. So I got pretty excited. The plan was for barges to be towed around the whole peninsula that the Opera House sits on in Sydney Harbor. Now I knew what spot I was going to shoot from.
Australia Day arrived and the whole harbor and downtown areas were packed with people celebrating. Wall to wall people, eating, drinking and shopping the temporary craft and art stands that popped up all over. Street performers, corn cob stands and all sorts of carnival type food could be seen every where. The parade of boats in the harbor was so neat to watch. There were tall ships sailing by, followed by fire fighter tug boats spouting water and all sorts of people waving from their boats to everyone on the harbor walk.
With all of the people and commotion going on I thought I had better get my spot staked out well before others get there to get the spot for a shot of there own. So, I gathered my gear up and headed out to a little spot close to the ferry station, across a little stretch of water where I had a clear shot of the Opera House.
I have had several experiences photographing fireworks in the U.S. So I sort of had this image preconceived in my mind. With that goal in mind I chose my 24mm wide angle lens. This would give me enough coverage to get the reflections of the fire works in the water and the fireworks streaking across the night sky. The weird thing was, the closer it got time for the fireworks the less people there were. Just before the fireworks were supposed to go off I looked around and there was hardly anyone around. Just me and some folks from Georgia. Who knew!
I was ready. Camera on the tripod all set to capture the blossoms of fireworks as they went off one by one. Except… in Australia they set all of them off almost at once! OMG, I was blinded with fireworks filling my view finder! Wow. So, I had to scramble and adjust what I thought would be a good exposure time and start guessing at what I should set my shutter speed to. I got six frames off. Thats it. 6. The fireworks were over.
Needless to say, I didn’t get any thing like I was hopping for. All the preparation I put into it and zip. But you know what? I had a blast doing it. Sometimes that is how it goes with photography. I am so glad I got to be there and share with the Australians in their celebration no matter if I got my shot or not. Photography can be more about experiences than about the capture.
I was lucky enough to be able to take a trip to Buenos Aires and Sydney Australia last January. I was traveling for business and had to pack light. If I had my choice I would have left the suit coat and business attire at home and brought my Mamiya 645 gear with me. Considering the level of meetings I was to attend, that was not an option.
Being selective with what gear I was going to take with me was going to be tough. Considering I had never been to either Buenos Aries or Sydney before I didn’t really know what to expect or what to plan for. Because I was going to have to keep my gear to a limit, I would be packing a 35mm kit to save on size and weight.
Downtown Sydney Australia, Pentax ME Super, 24mm Lens, Arista.EDU 400 ISO film
The smallest 35mm body I have is a Pentax ME super. It is a really compact camera with a great automatic exposure system as well as full manual control. All in a package as small as a Leica. I love to use this camera for street shooting too. Not to mention I just love the sound of the shutter on this little gem. With the decision made of what camera to take I had to whittle down what my lens choices were going to be.
I knew that my opportunities for photography on this trip were going to be limited to late evening or well after dark. I was hoping to be able to shoot some wide cityscapes but I wasn’t sure how close I could get to the subjects that I wanted to photograph. Also, to make sure I was going to get the most out of a small 35mm negative, I knew I had to stick with prime lenses. I couldn’t afford the distortion of a zoom. With all of that in mind I chose to take my 24mm f2.8 wide angle and my 50mm f1.7 prime lenses. Both small and light.
Downtown Buenos Aires Argentina, Pentax ME Super, 24mm Lens, Arista.EDU 100 ISO film
For film I wanted to use something that could handle the contrast of night photography and show some texture but not too much grain so I would have enough to work with when enlarging to a big size print. I decided to go with Arista.EDU films, both 100 iso and 400 iso. I really like the classic structure of the image that this film produces. I could have chosen one of the T grain films but thats for another post.
Finally, I had to pick a convenient tripod that would fit in carry on luggage and make sure I had enough batteries, shutter release and any filters I might need.
Between the two cities I was able to expose 6 roles of film. I just happen to be in Sydney for Australia Day (like 4th of July in the U.S.) and got to celebrate with millions of people in downtown Sydney. It was a blast, I just loved the Australian hospitality. Overall I am very pleased with the images I have from the trip. You can see a couple here in this post. It was a great trip and I have several more posts to come with some other images from this trip.