Vivid memories up in lights
IT'S easy to see how more than two million people are mesmerised by Vivid Sydney each year.
The colours dance off iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as buildings throughout the CBD.
The music is moving, almost haunting.
For children, it is a wonderland of lights and interactivity.
This year Vivid features Audio Creatures by Sydney director Ash Bolland, an animated display of underwater visuals curated to the soundtrack of Brazilian electronic producer Amon Tobin. Judging by the big crowds lining up in awe at the start of the festival, it's already a winner.
Vivid Sydney features more than 250 events spanning 23 nights until June 17 from 6-11pm. The best vantage points include The Rocks, Hickson Road Reserve, Bradfield Park and Luna Park.
Across Circular Quay the largest interactive light display in the world, Dreamscape, links the entire precinct from the Harbour Bridge to Cahill Expressway and some of Sydney's skyscrapers.
Lights for the Wild at Taronga Zoo showcases an array of multimedia sculptures including a Sumatran tiger and giant Port Jackson shark.
Other Vivid installations can be found in Martin Place, Kings Cross, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Barangaroo.
We were taken to some amazing vantage points with photographer Jenn Cooper, a Canon Collective ambassador.
Canon is running photographic tours, including ones for families, as part of its commitment to Vivid, which includes a display at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
There you can have photos taken, rent out Canon equipment, go on a tour and have the best of your photos printed.
We took Canon's new compact mirrorless camera, the EOSM6, for a spin, picking up some handy tips from Jenn during a restricted access shoot above the International Passenger Terminal overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
With our camera set on TV and ISO on auto, we played with long exposure settings, combined with zooms in and out, to get some cool results.
Jenn is a travel photographer who has produced some stunning photographs from Antartica. She likes to get away from the crowds to capture some of the best images of Vivid.
She clearly enjoyed watching kids' eyes light up as they took photos that could then be shared to their smartphone and on to social media.
Her best advice for families was to use a "real” camera rather than a smartphone or tablet.
"I see a lot of families taking pictures on iPads or their smartphones, then looking disappointed when they don't turn out right,” she said.
"My advice to families - take your camera out of the bag and leave the iPad at home.”
Another key piece of equipment is a decent tripod to allow for long four to 30-second exposures.
"I like the long exposures at 25sec capturing the light trails of the boats as they pass through the harbour,” Jenn said.
"Or a faster shutter speed for taking family pictures, like 1/60sec is good.”
She advised against a flash.
"I've never been a huge advocate for a flash,” she said.
"If you're photographing people in front of Vivid lights, yes, turn the flash on - but if you're photographing the Vivid lights in the distance, no flash.”
Top tips for Vivid families:
DO go early in the week. Monday to Wednesday will be quieter.
DO get there early and beat the crowds. Lights go on at 6pm in the city and 5.30pm at Chatswood and Taronga Zoo.
DO go more than once. There is much to see.
DON'T drive. Extensive road closures will be in place so take advantage of extra bus and train services.
DO plan ahead. Check out the precinct and accessibility maps, transport options and activities available at Vivid Sydney or through the festival smartphone app.
Vivid Sydney is on until June 17. More information at vividsydney.com.