Sydney’s forgotten tunnels ~ under St. James station, Sydney

Last weekend I was given the most amazing opportunity – to explore the abandoned tunnels beneath Sydney’s St. James Railway Station.

Every year, as part of ‘Sydney Open’, tours are conducted in these tunnels. There is one catch though – you can’t pay for it – you have to win it – either by a ticket ballot or answering a question on one of Sydney’s radio stations.

I was pretty happy when I received an email saying I’d won a ticket!

So, first of all let me tell you a bit of history about the tunnels – I learnt all of this information from the passionate ‘City Rail Historian’ who conducted our tour.

The extensive network of disused platforms and tunnels {which have always been hidden from the public and never been used} were built in the 1920s for proposed rail lines to the Eastern Suburbs of Bondi and Randwick. The outbreak of World War 11 and the Great Depression meant these plans had to be shelved.

During the war, the tunnels were modified into air raid shelters to be used if the city was ever under attack. They had the capacity to hold up to 20,000 people. The RAAF used the tunnels as their ‘Air Defence Headquarters’, four stories below the streets where they used morse code and studied aviation maps to co-ordinate air traffic and ships.

After the war, the RAAF was asked to bury the shelters. This job was never completed. As the tunnels were constructed from solid earth and meshed concrete – they were incredibly hard to dismantle….Once the order was given to ‘stop work’ the workmen literally downed their tools and walked out.

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We entered the tunnels through a very ordinary looking green door at the end of the platform at St. James Station ~ {think Harry Potter ~ platform 9 3/4 style.}

Immediately I was in photography heaven…I loved the disused platforms…they were completely intact and I thought about the people working on them nearly 100 years ago.

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You all know me, my camera was clicking crazily…..this opportunity doesn’t come along every day:)

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The tiles from the disused tunnels are used to replace broken tiles in the main area of St. James Station.

We then set off through the water into the huge open chambers…it was fabulous ~ walking along in my gumboots, taking shots and hearing all about this ‘other world’ beneath the city.

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The tunnels have had other uses over time ~ scenes from the TV show ‘Police Rescue’ and the film ‘The Matrix’ were filmed down here. City Rail also practise their emergency procedures here and the Army use the tunnels for military exercises.

Even seances were reputedly performed down in these tunnels ~ yes seances….All pretty interesting huh?

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The spot where the sceances are reputedly performed.

During the war, many soldiers who were working in the tunnels, left messages on the walls to their loved ones. Perhaps they weren’t sure if they would see their families and loved ones again or maybe they just wanted to sign their name to remind future generations who they were.

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The best sign of all was the air raid shelter sign ~ ‘PUBLIC AIR RAID SHELTER’ WARNING: NO PERSON IS ALLOWED IN THIS SHELTER EXCEPT DURING AN AIR RAID.

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Something that really amazed me, was the tree roots. They were everywhere. Even thick concrete and solid earth couldn’t stop them. They were growing out of holes in the concrete, snaking their way through the tunnels ~ twisting and turning, searching for water…

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But it was the details I loved the most ~ light battens on the ceiling, light bulbs, buckets and other traces of human life in the tunnels.

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I feel very grateful to have seen this interesting part of underground Sydney.

Thank you to City Rail for such an wonderful, interesting tour…My camera and I won’t forget it🙂

till next time,

Chris🙂

P.s. For all the photographers out there…I never used a tripod, I steadied the camera where I could and used extremely high ISO’s to get a decent shutter speed🙂

Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea

Sydney’s ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ is a huge success every year, and 2016 was no exception.

Entries poured in from across the globe for the right to display artwork along Sydney’s famous Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk.

The crowds were huge and I visited with some friends and, of course my camera🙂

My goal was to try and photograph the sculptures WITHOUT any people in them ~ very challenging, but I did manage to for quite a few photos.

This years winning entry was ‘Change Ahead’ by Johannes Pannekoek…

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There were plenty of other sculptures to view and enjoy along the sensational coastal walk.

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My favourite was the blue and white child ~ this was a very striking sculpture. She looked and felt very lonely on the clifftop overlooking the sea.

We thoroughly enjoyed all the other sculptures along the walk and finished up having lunch at The Bondi Icebergs Club overlooking the Beach!! Ah Bliss🙂

Enjoy the photos.

Chris🙂

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Bowral and the Southern Highlands

You all know how much I love flowers and gardens…well a couple of weeks back we visited Sutton Forest and Bowral in the Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia.

It was a particularly cool day but the gardens didn’t disappoint. First up we visited Red Cow Farm, a beautiful garden with lots of hidden garden rooms, a lake and so many glorious tulips. I took a stack of photos and we enjoyed meandering through the garden.

Our next stop was Milton Park, an amazing estate built at the turn of the 20th century by the Horden Family of retail & pastoral fame.

There are breathtaking views at every turn and the gardens are the most beautiful I have ever seen {seriously.}

I love the sweeping lawns {with grass so soft you could roll around for hours} cobble stone paths, rose gardens, mazes and hundreds and hundreds of flowers. Think tulips, camellias, roses, azaleas…..it is spectacular:)

The gardens of Milton Park have inspired painters and writers since the early 1800’s.

This photographer🙂 was particularly inspired by the beauty and colour of this magnificent garden.

Enjoy the pics ~ remember to click on one to view them as a slide show.

Happy clicking

Chris🙂

The Northern Migration – Whale Watching off Sydney Heads

I’ve been really lucky over the past couple of weeks to have been out whale watching from TWICE from Sydney – yes TWICE :)

Both days were warm and sunny and we were SO lucky {and grateful} to see some ‘Humpback’ whales heading north during their annual migration.

Each year – around May, Humpback whales leave the cold waters of Antarctica and swim north to the warm tropical waters of Queensland, Australia, to mate and give birth to their young.

They are such amazing creatures…We spotted our first couple of humpbacks not far off Sydney heads..

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These majestic creatures can grow to an average length of 12-18 metres and weigh as much as 45 tonnes.

The two whales travelled along together for a while, diving and giving us a glimpse of their tails – {click, click, click went my camera :)}

Whale Tail

Humpbacks are VERY acrobatic {considering their size} and one of the two whales we were observing really decided to put on a show…

Breaching is said to be either purely for play, to loosen skin parasites or it may have some social meaning. Check out the splash he made when he hit the water!

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He then ‘spyhopped’ {poked his head out of the water for around 30 seconds} to check out what was going on.

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Again this was followed by a playful ‘splash.’🙂

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Finally, he waved good-bye…and they continued on their journey north…

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Then just to top off a fantastic day, an albatross flew past {for anyone that knows me, I LOVE albatross.}

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Our second day out whale watching was completely different…it was two weeks after the first trip and the whales seemed to be more intent on heading north as quickly as possible….

We just observed them for a while before we headed back to Darling Harbour…

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I can’t wait to photograph them again when they head south down the East coast. Have you seen any humpback whales this season? I’d love to hear your stories. Please let me know in the comments below🙂

bye for now,

Chris🙂

Early morning photography at Mahon Pool, Maroubra

I love getting out and about with my camera and particularly enjoy starting the day early, photographing a sunrise🙂

Last Saturday we discovered a brilliant spot for photography – Mahon Pool, Maroubra Beach Sydney.

The first part of the morning I used my ND {neutral density} filters to create slow shutter speeds and movement blur in my photos….I love the effect the slow shutter has on the water – each photo is so individual…the swirling water looks like mist and gives the image an ethereal look.

So, what is a neutral density filter and what does it do?

As you all know {well I’m hoping you do} to SLOW DOWN YOUR SHUTTER SPEED you need low light….
So at dawn, dusk or night time, it’s easy….
But during the day {when the sun is shining :)} even if you set your camera to a small aperture {like f20} and your ISO way down to 100….sometimes the shutter speed is STILL NOT SLOW ENOUGH to record movement and blur within a photograph.

So, in comes the neutral density filter {ND FILTER.}

There are several different types of ND filter on the market. Circular threaded screw-on ND filters are the simplest to use, but have the disadvantage that stacking them together soon leads to vignetting issues.

A more recent innovation are variable Neutral Density filters, which screw onto the lens but have an adjustable outer ring, which you rotate to adjust the density depending on the light conditions and the effect you want.

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Variable Neutral Density Filter

Slot-in filters require you to first attach a filter holder to your lens via a ring adapter {the same size as the diameter of your lens – in my case – 77mm}, then insert square or oblong filters into the holder – the chief advantage is that, once set up, it’s easy to swap filters, stack them or add different kinds of filters to the mix. Slot-in filters are usually the most expensive option when purchasing ND filters.

Here’s my Lee slot-in filter set up below.

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Lee adaptor and holder attached to the front of the lens

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Lee .9 ND filter inserted into holder.

It’s SUPER easy to use the slot-in ND filter system.

I have 4 filters –

.3  – reduces the s/speed by 1 stop.

.6 – reduces the s/speed by stops.

.9 – reduces the s/speed by 3 stops.

‘The little Stopper’ – reduces the s/speed by 6 stops.

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So, how do they work?

Lets say you meter a scene at f22 and the s/speed is 1/250 sec in Manual mode.

Now, insert the .3  {1 stop} ND filter into the holder on the front of the lens. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/125 sec – 1 stop slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .3 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .6 {2 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/60 sec – 2 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .6 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .9 {3 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/30 sec – 3 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .9 filter from the holder.

See how it works? You can also stack the filters in front of one another in the holder – eg
I could insert the .3, .6 & .9 filters into the holder and reduce the shutter speed by 6 stops -{1 +2+3 = 6 stops.}

Another really cool thing about ND filters is that they enhance the colours and will create more contrast in your image.

So, experiment with ND filters and different shutter speeds to achieve some really cool effects in your images:)

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

The second half of our shoot I experimented with FAST and SUPER FAST shutter speeds. Using the Canon 70-200mm zoom lens in AV mode, I raised the ISO to 640 and varied the aperture from f5 to f7.1. The shutter speeds ranged from 1/800 second up to 1/5000 sec. Don’t you just love the frozen action of the waves?

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

If you have any questions about ND filters, please email me at bernasconiphotography@gmail.com

Chris🙂

P.S If you would like to connect with me on Instagram – click hereFacebook – click here & Twitter – click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Colours – Mount Wilson NSW

Don’t you just love autumn? The colours, the textures and the way the plants change….

This year in Sydney we’ve had a really warm autumn….25 degree days – for the last couple of weeks – even as I speak – today is going to be 25 degrees again!!

I thought I might have been a bit late to head up to Mount Wilson and photograph the colours…but they surprised me….when you are way up high the temperature really does its thing to the trees and landscape…

Here are some pics I took yesterday at two ‘Open Gardens’ at Mount Wilson…. ‘Windy Ridge’ and ‘Breenhold’  – Ray and I really enjoyed soaking up nature and being in the open spaces of these awesome properties.

I shot with two cameras {Canon 5d mk 11 and 5d mk 111} – I had my 24-105mm and my 100mm macro on both canon cameras – {thanks Ray for helping me with them.}

Remember to click on each photo to enjoy a large view…

cheers

chris

 

First Prize in the ‘Urban Landscape’ Section – Sydney Royal Easter Show

What a wonderful week its been for me…

I took out first prize in the ‘Urban Landscape’ section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show photography competition with a shot of our iconic Sydney Opera House…

And boy am I chuffed🙂

There were so many wonderful photographs, congratulations to all the other winners.

Have a great weekend everyone🙂