Photo of the Day: Museum of Contemporary Art


This image of Sydney’s Museum of the Contemporary Art has been long time in planning! I’ve always loved the architectural design of the building and feel it’s one of the rare buildings where it’s outsides match it’s creative insides, the MCA has some of the best conceptual artists showing their in the world! The shape of the building already gets the public thinking even before they’ve gone in.

So, my concept was to get the fairy floss long exposure clouds floating up into the sky whilst still having the tack sharp facade of the new MCA. I also wanted to have the contrast of the old MCA building next door which made the positioning of the camera very important as well as the choice of lens, Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 (wide-angle). If you look down the centre of the image you can see a line that pretty much goes up and down vertically all the way through. What is interesting is that this is actually the line that the architect has used as it’s centre of balance. If you went a few meters to the left or right the image just looked like it had some kind inner turmoil. I however did find some creative positions down near the tree and pointing the camera up at the box shapes on the MCA, but I wanted to have this vertical, almost art meets document, perspective.

This was a self assigned photographic project and I spent a lot of time understanding how the light reacts to the building at various times of the day. Any images I shot after lunch time and all of this side of the building was in shadow and then anything early in the day washed out the tones with too much light. I know I could have done a sunset/sunrise or even night shot for the colours but I really wanted the light to explain the shape. So, I found that around 11am-ish was the best time for natural light to help sculpt this incredible building. The mission of getting this space empty at 11am was difficult to say the least! It was very tough to get the perfect cloud day as well and then combine that with not many people. I was watching and ready all my favourite weather apps for the goldilocks amount of clouds (50%). If you want to know what apps I use to follow the weather for my photography then see this post. For this image I was using a 10 stop ND filter and pushing my exposure times out to 2 minutes so if people move through your frame they more than likely don’t show up anyway. On the other hand if someone is sitting down having their lunch then they will definitely show up! So a lot of time and exposures were made around the building, waiting for tourists, meeting tourists, waiting for people to finish their lunch lol, meeting other people visitors to the gallery, waiting for the school excursion which stops on these MCA steps around noon (I saw this twice lol)…

I’m really happy with the result though and enjoy photographic projects like this. I have a few other plans around the city, especially with the new ICC buildings in Darling Harbour.

Camera and Photo Info

Camera: Sony A7r

Lense: Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4

ISO: 50

Focal Length: 18mm

F Stop: f/22

Exposure times: 110 secs

Filter: 10 stop ND Filter, Hiatech-Formatt Infrared Firecrest

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