Cockatoo Island

This is my first visit to Cockatoo Island. I caught a ferry from Circular Quay which took about 10 minutes. It was packed full of visitors. It was an extremely hot and humid day. The only respite was in the tunnels, dug into the sandstone cliffs, which were about 10C cooler.

You need more than a couple of days to fully appreciate this place. You can also camp overnight on Cockatoo Island. I am seriously considering doing this next visit so that I can do some night photography here.

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After more than 3 hours of non-stop trudging all over the island and sweating copious amounts of bodily fluids. I was hot and dehydrated so I decided it was time to take a break and replenish. I ended up drinking a large bottle of PowerAde, a small bottle of water and 2 x cans of “real” Coke. Did I mention that I was thirsty? Note to self, come back in Autumn when the humidity is low.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

All of the above HDR shots were taken using a tripod, tone-mapped using Photomatix Pro with some tweaking in LR 2.6. Some of the internal shots were blended and burnt using CS4 and then tweaked in LR 2.6.

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The external HDR shots consisted of 3 exposures (+1, 0, -1) and the internal HDR shots consisted of 5 separate exposures (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2).

All the shots above were taken with my Nikon D700 and 14-24mm f/2.8.

With the internal HDR shots I wanted to convey a sense of decay and abandonment. A dark and moody ambiance. I think I managed to achieve that with last two photographs.


Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbour. Cockatoo Island is a former imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and gaol. It is also the site of one of Australia's biggest shipyards during the twentieth century. The first of its two dry docks was built by convicts and was completed in 1857.

The island's maritime industrial activity ceased in 1992.

Today Cockatoo Island retains many remnants of its past. Its prison buildings have been nominated for World Heritage listing, along with other convict sites around Australia. Large workshops, slipways, wharves, residences and other buildings retain the texture of the island's industrial past.

Cockatoo Island

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