Vivid Sydney 2017: Take a tour on the bright side

News Corp Australia

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 earlier this week, it's already a winner.

Vivid Sydney features more than 250 events spanning 23 nights until June 17, 6pm-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.

Vivid Sydney 2017.
Vivid Sydney 2017. Mark Furler

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, who is a Canon Collective Ambassador.

Canon is running photographic tours, including ones just for families, as part of its annual commitment to Vivid which includes an impressive display at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Museum of Contemporary Art lit up at Vivid Sydney.
The Museum of Contemporary Art lit up at Vivid Sydney. Mark Furler

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 EOS M6 for a spin, picking up some very handy tips from Jenn during a restricted access shoot above the International Passenger Terminal overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Vivid Sydney 2017.
Vivid Sydney 2017. Mark Furler

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.

Changing the auto white balance to a tungsten setting also produces warm blues on the water.

Cooper 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 which could then be easily shared to their smartphone and onto social media.

Her best advice for families is 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. My advice to families; mums and dads please 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 4 to 30 second exposures.

Vivid Sydney 2017.
Vivid Sydney 2017. Mark Furler

"I like the long exposures at 25 sec capturing the light trails of the boats as they pass through the harbour. Or a faster shutter speed for taking family pictures like 1/60sec is good."

She advises against using a flash as a rule.

"Depends on the shot, I've never been a huge advocate for a flash myself but some people prefer it. 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!"

Vivid Sydney 2017.
Vivid Sydney 2017. Mark Furler


  • DO go early in the week. Monday to Wednesday will be quieter than weekends.
  • 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. It's impossible to see everything in one night. Plan to visit different precincts on different days.
  • DON'T drive. Extensive road closures will be in place so take advantage of extra bus and train services instead.
  • 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 2017.
Vivid Sydney 2017. Mark Furler


• Family evenings - every Tuesday throughout Vivid Sydney, Canon will host family-themed events at Canon HQ.

Bring along the whole family to learn more about photography, print your favourite shots and more. (FREE: Limited spaces available, guests should register here).

• Canon Collective Walking Tours - The have been lengthened this year, available now in two and three-hour formats (pricing starts at $99).

While enjoying the use of the new Canon EOS 80D DSLR and EOS M5 Mirrorless cameras, visitors will discover some of the best Vivid Sydney photo opportunities.

The Canon Collective will provide visitors with photography tips and advice as they walk through Circular Quay, The Rocks and Barangaroo, stopping at the best vantage points to capture unique shots of Vivid Sydney.

Finishing at Canon HQ, attendees can select their best shots and receive an A3+ sized print. (TICKETED, registrations essential - book your space at the Canon Vivid Sydney website here).