Images of Sydney Vivid Light Festival & Fire Water 2010

Sydney Vivid Light Festival - Hyde Park Barracks

Sydney, my hometown, really knows how to put on a good show. The New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations are known worldwide. Starting in 2009, the City of Sydney decided to have an artistic light installation in the winter month of June. It’s called Vivid Light and it illuminates some of the city’s finest architectural structures with lights and colourful projected images.

The night was different because I was trying out my newly acquired, second-hand Canon 350D DSLR camera. It’s the first DSLR I’ve used so it’s a major learning curve for me at the moment. Starting with night photography probably wasn’t the greatest idea, because it is the trickiest. I mainly stuck to automatic settings, used a tripod and a remote shutter release. I think the photos turned out quite well all considering.

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Sydney Vivid Light Festival - State Library of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie image
State Library of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie image

Macquarie Visions
This year, there was a new exhibit called ‘Macquarie Visions’. It was a walk starting at St Mary’s Cathedral and taking in the historic buildings down Macquarie Street until you reached the Sydney Opera House. The buildings told the story of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth Macquarie, integral players in the city’s history in the early 1800’s.

Building’s included in the light installation were the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, The Sydney Mint, NSW Parliament House, State Library of NSW and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Most of the buildings projected images changed every 2 minutes, giving you enough time to get a decent photo.

Sydney Vivid Light Festival - Sydney Opera House, Green Pattern
Sydney Opera House, Green Pattern


Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House was lit up with projected images for last year’s Vivid Light as well. Some of the images were different this time around and its truly stunning to watch. I found the best spot to be across the Harbour near the Overseas Passenger Terminal looking across at the Opera House.

Sydney Vivid Light Festival - Fire Water Sydney Cove Tall Ship
Fire Water Sydney Cove Tall Ship

Sydney Fire Water
The dramatic Fire Water performance also featured for 3 nights at last year’s festival. But this year the theme had changed. It told the story of the ‘Sydney Cove’ a tall ship sent from Calcutta India in 1797 to Australia  by merchant Robert Campbell.

It was a brilliant mix of music, Aboriginal and Indian cultures, pyrotechnics and a huge colour illuminated tall ship that came in for the finale with Cirque du Soleil style acrobats swinging from the sails.

Play the part
I learned from last year’s experience, the way to look the part at Vivid is to:

  • Wear a beanie – its cold wandering around the city at night in the middle of winter. Everyone else is wearing one so you should too.
  • Take a tripod – even if you aren’t that much of a photographer, you look pro if you haul around a big heavy tripod for the night. Without a tripod you might as well not take any photos at night.
  • Don’t take any of your own food – so you have the joy of queuing for over an hour with the starving masses at the food stalls or end up fighting over the last piece of bread left at Subway.
  • Stake out your spot early – at Fire Water so you can see. About 20 mins or so before start time should do it.
  • Be a copy cat – wherever you see a clustering of tripods there is a high chance its a prime photo-taking spot.

Click for high res images


  1. Nicholas says:

    Your photos turned out really well Natalie!

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