Australia

Australia Photo Prep Part 1 – Photography Planning for Sydney, Australia

For those of who read my Art of Travel Photography series, you know that one of the most important tips for taking good travel photos is to understand what you will be photographing before you travel.  This is important for a number of very good reasons.  First and most importantly, if you aren’t familiar with what is at your destination, you might not even make time to see some of the amazing things you could have seen, let alone photographed them.

sydney-4337418_960_720.jpg

Even if you do have a good itinerary planned that covers all of the top things that you would like to see at your destination, understanding exactly how you are going to photograph these subjects or locations before you travel can save you valuable time.  I like to know where the best spots that give you the best angles are before I arrive.  That way I am not wasting valuable travel time trying to figure out where to take the best shots.

Finally, understanding what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph those subjects or landscapes before you travel will help you prepare what type of gear you will need to have with you.  For instance, what time of day is best to photograph at these locations?  Where are the best spots at these locations to capture sunrises or sunsets?  What type of lens will be best for capturing the subjects or landscapes at these locations?  These are just some of the questions that the proper advanced research can answer.

sydney-2420747_960_720.jpg

With about a month to go until our trip to Australia and New Zealand and the itinerary for our trip all set, I figured now was as good a time as any to start doing the photo prep for the trip.  In this series, I am going to walk you thru my photography prep for each of our destinations in Australia and New Zealand.  If you haven’t had a chance to review my planning process for our Australia and New Zealand trip, I have linked those articles for you to review below.

In the first installment of my photography planning for the trip, I am going to cover our first destination, which is Sydney, Australia.  I am going to outline the research I did on what the top photography locations in Sydney are, where it is best to photograph in those locations, which time of day it would be best to photograph the locations, and what type of photography equipment I will need to get my desired shots.  If you would like to check out the photography planning guides for some of our other stops on our Australia and New Zealand trip, I have included those links below.

Resources I Used

bondi-beach-587813_960_720.jpg

When doing photography planning for any trip, the first step I take is to do research on the location to see what there is to photograph, where the best places to photograph those subjects or landscapes are, and when and how to photograph them.  When it came time to do my research on Sydney, Australia, here are some of the best resources that I used to do my research.

With these resources in hand, I sat down to start looking for places and things that I would like to photograph in the Sydney area.  By doing this research now, it will ensure that I don’t miss photographing anything spectacular when I arrive in Sydney and it will also help save me time trying to determine when and how to photograph the subjects and locations that I have identified.  If you would like to learn more about the process I use when I do my photography research, I would suggest that you check out my Art of Travel Photography – Planning Your Shots guide.

Photo Spots I’ve Identified

sydney-296027_960_720.jpg

After doing my research, I identified ten locations in Sydney that I really want to take photographs at.  I am going to cover each of these locations in greater detail, but as a summary, I have included a map and a list of all ten locations for you to review below.

Sydney Photography Locations Map

View Larger Map

Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
Observatory Hill Lookout
Dr. Mary Booth Lookout Reserve
Bondi Coastal Walk
Bondi Beach
South Head Walk – The Gap
Hickson Road Reserve
McMahon’s Point Wharf
Wendy’s Secret Garden
Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Lawn

 

Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair

Mrs Macquarie's Chair.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair

This spot is a great spot to get photos of both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in one shot.  It is quite a long distance to both the bridge and the Opera House from this spot so you will want to have a lens with some reach with you.  I would recommend at least 100mm reach with a crop sensor and at least 160mm reach with a full-frame if you would like some tight shots of both structures.  A wide-angle lens is another nice piece of equipment to have for wide shots of the area.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair - Photo Map

View Larger Map

The thing I love the most about this spot is that it sets up really nicely for sunset shots.  From this point, you can get both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the same shot with a brilliant sunset as a backdrop.  Below is a map that illustrates where the sun will set on the first day that we will be in Sydney.  As you can see, it lines up really well with the shots I want to take.   If you are planning on getting some shots during the Golden Hours from this spot you will want to make sure you have a tripod with you.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map.png

View Larger Map

Observatory Hill

Observatory Hill.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Observatory Hill

The Observatory Hill is a great place to get some elevated shots of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  As with the Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair location, you are quite a ways away from the bridge and opera house, so you will want a lens with some reach if you want to get some tight shots.  I would recommend at least 100mm reach with a crop sensor and at least 160mm reach with a full-frame if you would like some tight shots of both structures.  A wide-angle lens is another nice piece of equipment to have for wide shots of the area.

Observatory Hill - Photo Map

View Larger Map

Observatory Hill is a great spot to get sunrise pictures of the Sydney Opera House and the sun will line up especially well when I visit in mid-September.  If you are planning on getting some sunrise shots from this spot you will want to make sure you have a tripod with you.

Observatory Hill - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

Dr. Mary Booth Lookout Reserve

Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Dr. Mary Booth Lookout Reserve

The Dr. Mary Booth Lookout Reserve is another great angle upon which to photograph the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  This spot is on the opposite side of the harbor from the Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair spot.  Like the first two locations I outlined, this location is also quite a ways away from the bridge and the opera house, so you will want to have a lens with some reach if you would like to get some tight shots of both.  I would recommend at least 100mm reach with a crop sensor and at least 160mm reach with a full-frame if you would like some tight shots of both structures.  A wide-angle lens is another nice piece of equipment to have for wide shots of the area.

Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve - Photo Map

View Larger Map

This location really doesn’t line up well for either sunrise or sunset shots of the Sydney Opera House at the time of year when I will be visiting, but it does line up fairly well for some good sunset shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during my visit.  If you look at the map below, it shows that the sun will be setting in the direction one would be shooting the bridge from this location.   If you are planning on getting some sunset shots from this spot you will want to make sure you have a tripod with you.

Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Walk

Bondi-Coogee walk.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Bondi-Coogee Walk

This is a location (or should I say a series of locations) that I am really excited to shoot.   This stretch of coastline is absolutely beautiful and stretches between two of the most iconic beaches in Sydney.  If you take a look at the map below, I outline the path you will want to take and where some of the best photo spots are located.  I would recommend a wide-angle lens for these shots.

Bondi-Coogee walk - Photo Map

View Larger Map

In addition to the beautiful coastline, all of the stops along the coastal walk also lineup really nice for some fantastic sunrise shots.  If you are planning on getting some sunrise shots from this spot you will want to make sure you have a tripod with you.

Bondi-Coogee walk - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

South Head Walk – The Gap

South Head Walk – The Gap.png

Photograph from Google Street View at South Head

If you are staying in downtown Syndey, then this spot is a little bit off the beaten path, but it is very much worth the effort to get there when you see the views you will be treated with.  In my opinion, this beautiful stretch of coastline with the breathtaking Hornby Lighthouse is some of the most picturesque coastlines in the Sydney area.  To shoot this area, I would recommend having a wide-angle lens with you so that you can maximize the amount of coastline you capture.

South Head Walk – The Gap - Photo Map

View Larger Map

In addition to being an incredibly beautiful stretch of coastline, this spot is also set up really nicely for some epic sunrise shots.  As you can see in the map below, the sun rises directly off the coast and will provide a beautiful backdrop to what will already be beautiful photographs.  If you are planning on getting some sunrise shots from this spot you will want to make sure you have a tripod with you.

South Head Walk – The Gap - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

Hickson Road Reserve

Hickson Road Reserve.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Hickson Road Reserve

The Hickson Road Reserve is another location that gives you a really great perspective of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  If you are looking to get some closeup shots of the bridge and even some cool shots of the bridge from a bottom-up perspective, then this location is your best bet.  I would definitely recommend bringing a wide-angle lens if you are planning on shooting the bridge from this location as you are fairly close to the bridge from this spot.  If you’re lucky, you can get the bridge and some cool boat traffic in your shots.

Hickson Road Reserve - Photo Map.png

View Larger Map

Unfortunately, during the time of year that I will be visiting Sydney, there aren’t going to be really good opportunities to get a sunrise or sunset as a backdrop to my shots of the bridge from the Hickson Road Reserve.  If you visit during a different time of year, I would certainly do your due diligence and check the sunrise and sunset points as I think it would be really cool to get a great shot of the bridge from this perspective with a sunrise or sunset as a backdrop.  If you are going to shoot at sunrise or sunset, I would definitely recommend using a sturdy tripod when you shoot.

Hickson Road Reserve -Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

McMahon’s Point Wharf

McMahons Point Wharf.png

Photograph from Google Street View at McMahons Point Wharf

McMahon’s Point Wharf is another great location for getting shots of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  You can go out on the dock and get some great shots of boat traffic as it passes under the bridge, which would make for some pretty incredible and interesting photographs.  You aren’t in tight with the bridge from this location, but you aren’t super far away either.  I think a wide-angle lens would be perfect for getting shots of the bridge and all of the boat traffic in the harbor.

McMahons Point Wharf - Photo Map

View Larger Map

Unfortunately, during the time of year that I will be visiting Sydney, there aren’t going to be really good opportunities to get a sunrise or sunset as a backdrop to my shots of the bridge from the McMahon’s Point Wharf.  If you visit during a different time of year, I would certainly do your due diligence and check the sunrise and sunset points as I think it would be really cool to get a great shot of the bridge from this perspective with a sunrise or sunset as a backdrop.  If you are going to shoot at sunrise or sunset, I would definitely recommend using a sturdy tripod when you shoot.

McMahons Point Wharf - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Bondi Beach

I am really excited to get some great shots at this iconic beach.  There are a number of really great vantage points that I would recommend checking out at Bondi Beach when you visit, and I have highlighted those for you in the map below, but the vantage point that I am most excited about is the one from right behind the Icebergs Pool on the South end of Bondi Beach.  I think shots of this ocean-side pool with waves crashing onto shore would be epic.  I would definitely recommend a wide-angle lens to capture the great landscape shots of the beach and the surrounding coastline.

Bondi Beach - Photo Map

View Larger Map

Lucky for me, the sun will be rising in the perfect location for me to get some really great sunrise shots at Bondi Beach when I visit.  This should make shooting at Bondi extra special.  If you are going to shoot sunrise or sunset pictures at Bondi Beach, I would definitely recommend bringing a sturdy tripod with you.

Bondi Beach - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

Wendy’s Secret Garden

Wendy’s Secret Garden.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Wendy’s Secret Garden

The last of the locations I researched for shooting pictures of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a spot known as Wendy’s Secret Garden.  This green area overlooks the harbor and gives you an interesting perspective of the bridge.  As you can see in the screengrab I took from Google Street View above, you can capture quite a bit of the harbor, as well as the bridge, in your shots from this location.

I would recommend at least 100mm reach with a crop sensor and at least 160mm reach with a full-frame if you would like some tight shots of both structures.  A wide-angle lens is another nice piece of equipment to have for wide shots of the area.

Wendy’s Secret Garden - Photo Map

View Larger Map

Unfortunately, this location isn’t going to be really good for sunrise and sunset shots while I am visiting Sydney in September.  However, it may be good at other times of the year when you visit.  I would suggest checking the sunrise and sunset spots before visiting to determine if it would be worthwhile to visit during the Golden Hours.  If you are going to shoot at sunrise or sunset, I would definitely recommend using a sturdy tripod when you shoot.

Wendy’s Secret Garden - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Lawn

Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Lawn.png

Photograph from Google Street View at Bennelong Lawn

The last location from my photography research of Sydney that I am going to highlight is a great one.  From this location, you can get some really fantastic closeup shots of the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.    As you can see in the photo map below, the Bennelong Lawn is in a prime spot to get some great closeups of the opera house, and if you plan your shots right, the bridge in the background as well.  I would definitely bring a wide-angle lens if you are going to shoot from this location as you are in fairly tight with the opera house and you will need the wide-angle to get the bridge in your shots as well.

Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Lawn - Photo Map

View Larger Map

As an added bonus, I should be able to get some great close-up shots of the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbor Bridge in the background with the sun setting in the shots.  As you can see in the map below, the sun should set in a great location while I will be in Sydney that will allow me to get some great sunset shots from this spot.  If you are going to shoot sunrise or sunset pictures at Bondi Beach, I would definitely recommend bringing a sturdy tripod with you.

Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Lawn - Sunrise and Sunset Detail Map

View Larger Map

New Signature

Get My Ultimate Travel Guide

Sign-up to receive the latest updates from my travel blog and start receiving premium content that you will not find on this blog, starting with my Ultimate Travel Guide.  This comprehensive guide outlines the process that I use to book all of my trips and includes tips and tricks for streamlining the travel planning process and saving you money on travel.

Premium Guides

* indicates required


In addition to the premium content, I would like to receive regular updates on the following topics:

Please follow along with our adventures:
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
Visit Us
Pinterest
Pinterest
Instagram

Facebook Comments

13 replies »

  1. All this point-and-click girl can say is, Oh. My. God. You are nothing if not thorough, Josh. I didn’t know that researching where to take photos was actually a thing. I think you love photography the way the husband loves cycling. That is to say, a LOT! 😂 (Hypocrite Alert: I love travel planning just as much, so I have no business teasing you. 😉)

    I’d actually been wondering when your trip was. I’m glad it’s just around the corner. You are going to have a great time (and get the best pictures, obviously).

    • Thank you so much for the kind words!!! We are super excited!!

      And yes, I am insane. I have a serious photography problem, for sure. 😂😂

      Can’t wait to read about your upcoming trip too! 👍

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.