Auckland Harbour Bridge

The view from Little Shoal Bay

 Behind the lens.

Behind the lens.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge at Sunset.

This is a not often seen view of the harbour bridge. Usually this side of the bridge is shot from further away in Little Shoal Bay (the little green park inside the bay you can see on the map, at the top of the dog head, "dog head!?!" once you see it it cannot be unseen.) You can see an image taken from this bay below that was taken on my original scouting trip. However that vantage point does not offer the same pattern of rocks that help lead the eye into the picture, it does have lots of pretty yachts to lead your eye though. 

I stumbled upon this spot while scouting for a spot to take a very long shutter speed image of the harbour bridge, you know, all nice smooth white cloudy water and clouds with a static high contrast bridge looking all bridgy and stuff. The problem on the day was that it was really windy, so windy that my tripod had a hard time staying upright and was trying it's best to take itself and my camera on a low altitude flight back towards my car. On the rare occasion that it did I discovered that in the strong winds the whole bridge itself sways! (it's designed to, I'm sure). On top of that the tide was coming in really fast. So by the time I'd set my camera up near the waters edge and taken a 60 or so second exposure I had to retreat back 20 metres from the water which was swiftly rising around my ankles.

All in all, I got nothing worthwhile except the picture of the yacht and bridge which very misleadingly conveys an image of a lovely sunny day by the seaside.  

After that disappointing experience I drove along the road a little towards the bridge where I discovered a sign pointing oddly at some driveways stating "beach access." I parked up and followed my nose down to the beach. I felt like I was trespassing down peoples driveways and at any minute would be confronted by a very upset homeowner wondering why a bearded man was nosing about his brand new Audi parked under his expensive seaside house with a bunch of camera gear. But it is actually a public path and not so much as an eyebrow was raised.

What I found at the end of the path was a small beach with rows of rocks pointing towards the bridge, great. The trouble was it was high tide and still really windy. I figured I needed to be there around 2 hours either side of high tide and sometime around sunset.

Cue several weeks later and the tides and conditions appeared to be right. I raced out there an hour or so before sunset. I set up my camera with my 17-50mm lens attached with a 3 stop ND filter and polariser (giving me around 6 stops less light) on my tripod and fired off some shots in the low sunlight. I had to keep chasing the water over slippery rocks as the tide was quickly retreating so my composition was constantly changing. I believe the shot to the right was the best composition of the night.

I waited until the lights on the bridge came on and fired off some more shots, it was now dark enough to take off my ND filter but the polariser stayed on. It was then I got my favorite image, within 5 minutes of that the ambient light was too low and the reflections of the water just got out of hand and too distracting, as you can see from the shot below. The 3 images were all taken within about half an hour of each other which goes to show how quickly light can change at that time of day and that it's worthwhile getting there a little early and hanging around until conditions are just right, even though in this case conditions were just right at the halfway mark!

Not a lot needed to be done in post processing aside from some rather standard colour and contrast adjustments as well as a graduated filter to darken the sky. I remember at the time being disappointed that the sunset wasn't  more impressive but I think that would have distracted from the bridge itself and just made the image too busy.

 My favorite composition (I think).

My favorite composition (I think).

 Later on in the evening, notice those hideous reflections. "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

Later on in the evening, notice those hideous reflections. "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

 Before and after editing, really not much more than some contrast and colour boosts to liven up the rather flat RAW image.

Before and after editing, really not much more than some contrast and colour boosts to liven up the rather flat RAW image.