Categories:> Lifestyle, Photography

Vivid Sydney 2016 Guide: What’s On, iPhone Photography Tips, Apps & More

Vivid Sydney, one of my favourite annual events, is set to return very soon, and will see the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas arrive to Sydney for 23 nights across eight major precincts spread throughout the city. It sees technology, art, and culture come together in one event – most of which is completely free to see.

I’ve put together this guide to not only help you learn more about the event, but to also give you some iPhone photography tips to help you capture the event as best as possible. I’ve also chosen to recommended Apps which might be useful in a variety of ways – from helping you get around, to editing your photos. In addition, I’ve highlighted some accessories that might assist with various tasks, such as time-lapse photography, etc.

You can also learn more on the event itself at the official Vivid Sydney website.

The Event: What’s On

Vivid Sydney is all about Light, Music and Ideas – for 23 nights you will be able to experience light installations and projections around Sydney, music events from local and international artists and a number of events, keynotes and workshops.

The highlight of the event is Vivid Light, which transforms Sydney into a city of colour with more than 80 lighting installations and projections bringing colour to much of the city and surrounds – from the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay to Chatswood, Taronga Zoo, Darling Harbour, Central Park, and more.

The best part about Vivid Light is that it is completely free to attend, it will cost you nothing to freely walk around much of the 8 precincts spread across Sydney from May 27th – June 18th (6pm – 11pm). Light is projected on many buildings, and famous Sydney landmarks. Some of them are even interactive, for example the ability to control the colour of the lights on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Event Information: Vivid Light runs May 27th – June 18th from 6pm to 11pm every night. You can learn more plus see locations of the light installations at the Vivid Sydney.

Vivid Sydney 2016 Taronga Zoo

Planned Vivid Event At Taronga Zoo

For the first time there will be a series of light installation at Taronga Zoo, however you will have to pay to go this particular exhibition. You can purchase tickets online from Vivid at Taronga Zoo.

There are 110 events occurring for Vivid Music and 172+ events for Vivid Ideas – a full list can be seen on the Vivid website. It would be impossible to go into detail about all of these, so I’ve outlined the key facts below;

Precincts & Locations

Every year the event gets bigger, and 2016 is no exception. This year there are a number of new locations including Taronga Zoo, The Royal Botanic Gardens and The Galeries. These locations join Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Martin Place, Darling Harbour, Walsh Bay, Central Park, Chatswood, and Carriageworks.

  • City (Circular Quay, The Rocks, Martin Place, Darling Harbour & more)
  • Chatswood
  • Central Park (near UTS, Sydney)
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Royal Botanic Gardens

You can see a map of the event from the official app or from the Vivid Sydney website.

Interesting Facts

To get an idea of how big Vivid Light is, you only need to learn of some of the technical aspects which go into making this year’s event:

  • Up to 1,480m of LED tape will be installed to light up Sydney Harbour Ferries
  • Approximately 1,600 LED tubes containing 76,800 individual LED’s and 140 High Output LED Cans will be laid on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Apps For Getting Around & Editing

The apps I’ve listed below are some of my favourites that will help you get the most out of Vivid. Some will help you get around, others capture light better than the standard Camera app and others are designed to provide you the essential, and advanced editing tools for your photos.

Vivid Sydney Official iPhone App

Official Vivid iPhone App

Official Vivid Event App

Everything you need to know about Vivid including the official event Map can be viewed from one essential app – the Official Vivid Sydney app, for both iPhone and Android.

You can view events, save your favourites with the ‘My Vivid’ section, browse the map, see recommended itineraries (including the best way to explore Vivid Light with light trails), and see events around your location on the night.

TripView Transport App

Finding a car park in Sydney CBD is difficult even on the best of days therefore the suggestion is simply don’t drive. Thankfully there will be plenty of Transport available including additional train services running at night.

TripView – one of the most popular transport apps for Sydney – displays transport times for Sydney Trains, Ferries, Buses and Light Rail (trams) allowing you to easily plan a trip (Central to Marrickville, for example), and view when the next train leaves.


This app gives you all the tools you need for taking photos, but also includes advanced manual controls you don’t get in the standard Camera application on the iPhone. One important feature for night photography is the ability to set exposure, meaning you can change how light or dark your shots come out by controlling how long the photo is taken for. This is very useful when taking photos of the lighting installations, and projections during Vivid light.

You can download the Camera+ from the App Store, there is also a free version available. Note: Make sure you download “Camera+” and not “Camera Plus”.


One of my favourite apps for editing photos, Afterlight includes simple and advanced editing features allowing you to edit your photos on the go. One of the best features of Afterlight is the ability to edit your photos without importing your photos. Simply go to the photos app, edit a photo and open the Afterlight from clicking the extensions icon (three dots in a circle).

iPhone Photography Tips

If you have an SLR you might expect to get much better photos than a mobile device, but for many of us we only use our iPhones. Every year the camera in the iPhone gets better – the new iPhones, including the iPhone SE, now shoot video in impressive 4K resolution, and take 12-megapixel photos with a new camera sensor designed to better capture low light photos.

Vivid 2015 Shot On iPhone

Vivid 2015 Shot From My iPhone 6 Plus

Capturing low light photos in general remains challenging, and at times it can result in grainy or blurred photos. Thankfully much of the lighting installations for Vivid are big, and bright so taking photos that look great can be quite easy. However, there are certain things you can do that will make the photos turn out the best it can.

General Tips

  • TURN OFF flash – it doesn’t help in this scenario, as it will wash out the colour
  • Use the Camera+ app I’ve mentioned above and lower the exposure to make the overall scene darker, which will make lights appear more prominently
  • If you’re using the standard iPhone Camera app, lock the auto-focus to prevent the iPhone camera trying to re-focus on the light as it changes. To do this tap, and hold on your display while taking a photo until you see ‘AE/AF LOCK’.
  • Adjust the exposure – to do this simply slide your finger up and down the screen in the Camera app once you’ve tapped to focus.

Editing photos afterwards also gives you the chance to make the photos you’ve captured even better. During the process of editing the photos I captured last year I reduced brightness, while increasing contrast, saturation and sharpness.

If you do have an SLR, Canon Australia has some great tips and planned workshops during Vivid.

Best Accessories For The Night

If you want to be even more creative there are a few accessories out there which will help you capture Vivid from your iPhone in interesting ways.

iPhone Tripod Mount SideKick360Plus

iPhone Tripod

Tripods will help you to capture time lapses of the event or steady a shot. The Olloclip Lens will allow you capture photos through different style of lenses. If video is your plan, an iPhone Gimbal will capture professional stabled floating-style video.

Apple iPhone Photography Kit

Many  of the accessories listed here are included in Apple’s iPhone Photography Kit, which includes a number of products designed for the iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6/6s Plus in a portable case.

The kit includes the Olloclip Active Lens, a ultra-wide and telephoto lens you can quickly slide onto your iPhone, the Manfrotto PIXI Tripod to achieve long exposures and time lapses, the Tripod Mount which I’ve used in the photo above, plus a Bluetooth camera remote which lets you take photos from a distance without touching your iPhone – great for group photos and time lapses.

You can learn more or order the photography kit from Apple Australia.

iPhone Tripods

Taking time-lapses especially during Vivd is a fun way of seeing how the lights, projections and other things move in a short space of time. To get this done I’d highly suggest an iPhone Tripod which will keep your iPhone completely still as you record the time-lapse over a length of time.

iPhone Gimbal

If you plan on recording a lot of video and want to achieve some professional floating style video the Feiyu Tech G4 Pro 3-Axis Gimbal for iPhone will let you do exactly that. It’s designed to help you capture stabilised video with four different operating modes including pan, tilt, following mode and inverted.

You can read my review on this product or learn more from Apple Australia.



About Ben See all posts by author

Sydney, Australia. Love travel, photography, architecture, technology, gaming, web design/design - 26.

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