Sydney May 2017 (15 photos)

This is part 2 of my Vivid Sydney 2017 series of posts.

“Saltwater Crocodile”

Yes, Vivid Sydney has returned for its 9th year and this is the 6th consecutive year that I have photographed it. Running from 26 May until 17 June, it is now in its final week for 2017. This free festival has become a major travel and tourism event for Sydney with an estimated 2.3 million visitors to last year’s festival.

“Marine Turtle”

“Tasmanian Devil”

Once again Vivid returns to Taronga Park Zoo, on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour.


“Asian Elephant”

The light installations here are all devoted to Australian species and 10 regional endangered species that the zoo is committed to save and conserve. These are the lights for the wild, and they ask guests to become a light for the wild and support these endangered species.


The light installations continually change colours and several of them feature movement.

They do a great job of creating a totally immersive environment for visitors to become a part of and learn from.

“Sumatran Rhinoceros”

“Port Jackson Shark”

It is the only precinct that visitors pay a fee to see. The fee goes towards Taronga Zoo’s conservation efforts. I overheard more than a few people say they were going to return to the zoo displays a second time.

“Sumatran Tiger”

The 10 species listed as critical and near extinction are:

Marine Turtle
Regent Honeyeater
Sumatran Rhinoceros
Sumatran Tiger
Asian Elephant
Sun Bear
Sunda Pangolin
Corroboree Frog

“Pygmy Tarsiers”

These night photos were all taken handheld. I manually set a wide aperture and selectively focused on the most important subject in the frame. I also manually set a shutter speed of 1/100th second or faster. Generally, I allow the ISO to float as high as my camera is comfortable with. Most digital sensors preserve little detail in the shadows but good detail in the highlights. Therefore overexposing gives more details to play with and in post processing the exposure can be reduced to return to a correct ambient level of exposure. In this way, you get good exposure, limited noise and good detail in the shadows and highlights.


This is Part 2 of my VIVID Sydney 2017 series.

All of my photography from this series and previous years of VIVID Sydney going back to 2012 can be found here:
VIVID Sydney page

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Vivid 2017: Lights for the Wild


62 thoughts on “Vivid 2017: Lights for the Wild

  1. Neat last shot, Draco. I never have much luck with silhouettes. And the angle of the elephant made it seem like it was just ambling past!

    • Thank you very much. For silhouettes, the aim to underexpose the foreground. You can do this in camera by exposing for the sky, or just do it in your software – it’s not cheating to do it that way. πŸ™‚
      Children just seemed absolutely enchanted for all these brightly lit animals. They are well made.

  2. Great theme with Taronga Zoo this year, and it’s great to hear some people are thinking about paying and going back to that precinct for a second time – it really is an appreciation for art. The installations don’t look like your ordinary animals, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel they feel life-like. Very crisp captures and good that there wasn’t much grain. Sharp.

    • Thank you. The whole set of displays at the Zoo create a unified theme and experience and I think people appreciate that and the educational component, as well as what the Zoo is trying to accomplish for the endangered species. The displays are very well made and do move as if they were real. Some people find this to be the best set of displays at Vivid.

  3. The zoo part is a highlight of of the Vivid 2017. I just can’t being there walking through the park and enjoy these creative and beautiful displays.
    You captured them with such details in handheld. So Amazing!!

  4. J.D. Riso says:

    I think I could linger for hours in this psychedelic zoo. I hope the Zoo raises a lot of money from the installation.

    • Psychedelic is a good description. πŸ™‚ A nocturnal theme park, in a way. I wasn’t dawdling but it took me about 90 minutes to see everything. It’s a great experience which many say is the best of all the vivid precincts. I’m sure they’ll raise a lot of money for their cause.

  5. I always look forward to your coverage of this festival, Draco. Always beyond words! Thanks for your note about technique, too; my question is how you handle the color/white balance. Without having been there, each photo looks “correct”.

    • Thank you very much, Mic. White balance is a bit difficult because there are often many different light sources. I know that when processing my photos I have to reduce the exposure and cool them down a little in order to get the correct colours as I remember them. And I do that usually by trying to replicate a large area of blue in real life which appears purplish in camera, and then using that as a guide to adjust my other photos.

  6. Wow! I must get to Vivid next year .. maybe I’ll bump into you πŸ˜‰ wonderful images Mr Draco, love the last! All hand held .. technique! Makes me embarrassed to think I can take a photo .. truth is

  7. I love the Taronga Zoo, there is no place on earth like it. Then to see it here at night with these whimsical colorful creatures added to it, is very special. It’s also a wonderful way to raise awareness and funds. Your photos are really outstanding Draco, I love the red tree with the bees especially.

    • I’m not sure there is any other zoo in the world that offers the harbour and city views that Taronga Park does. This is the second year of Vivid at Taronga and it seems to be hugely popular with good reason.

      In summer, they have evening concerts at the zoo as well, It really is a lovely location.

      • I can imagine summer evening concerts there are so relaxing and pleasant. I know of no other zoo that one accesses by boat, and that sets the relaxation mood so nicely. Thanks again for the series, it was truly magnificent.

The Wood Dragon is listening...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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