White Night Melbourne 2014

  • February 25, 2014

White Night 2014 Bridge Sign

White Night is an arts festival held annually in Melbourne over Summer from 7pm until 7am. Being held primarily during the hours of darkness, a major attraction is artwork based on illuminations and projections. This year it fell on Saturday the 22nd of February, flowing into Sunday morning. You can still see the events guide (for the time being) on their website. I say “every year”, giving this the gravity of some sort of tradition, when in actual fact it only had its inaugural run last year.

Speaking of last year, I was out all night (just like this year), and was continually blown away from the creativity, talent and feeling of happiness that surrounded me. It was truly magical, and I put that down as one of the best nights I’ve ever had in Melbourne. It was thus with great anticipation that I waited for White Night 2014 and as the night grew nearer, so too did my excitement!

Here are some of the shots I took last year.

I’d like to share with you how my night panned out for 2014.

Angel with Crepuscular BeamsIt started with dinner in the inner Eastern suburbs at approx 6pm, followed by a drive into Richmond where I have a secure park.  We headed out onto Bridge Road and waited for a tram. Each one came and went – full as a tin of sardines with armpits and elbows everywhere! Trams were an obvious no-go at this time.

Transport Plan B – TAXI!!!! A yellow cab arrived pretty quickly. Given that there were only two of us, two opportunistic (and very friendly and well-mannered) strangers jumped in with us and we all headed into the city.

The girl in the front seat asked if we could go up Spring St and stop at Lonsdale St. Fine I thought – we’ll start up at the “Northern Lights” and work our way South as it’ll be relatively quiet up there. Wow how wrong was I!!! We found the Synchronised Swimming and the queue just kept on going and going and going! We passed a sign that advised that at this particular point, the wait was approximately 30 mins. Further back another sign – approx 1 hour wait. Further back there were no more signs but I extrapolated to be about 1.5 to 2 hours. All that time in a queue for a 7 minute show – ixnay to that idea!

Photography Plan B – get our asses to Birrarung Marr ASAP! We fought our way down Russell St past the very crowded “Purple Rain” installation, where a security guard was making himself hoarse from telling patrons to keep off the roads and move along. Even though he was a total karma killer, I still feel for the guy!

Finally we arrived at Birrarung Marr, where I felt I could breathe again, and open up the photographic account with a shot of the old standard – Angel. This time lit up with a backdrop of crepuscular beams.

In front of Angel was “Midden” – an illuminated pile of gravel, with the cityscape as a backdrop which was reasonably entertaining, although the thumping subwoofer bass was a bit deafening.

Midden Shadows

A friend phoned to say he’d like to catch up, but he seemed to be struggling to get to where we were, so we took off to the planetoids display after crossing Swan St Bridge. I didn’t really “feel” this installation until I got up close and personal with the big golden orb and then I started to get into the flow of things.

Golden Orb

Red Planetoid

After various combinations of orb shots we made our way onto the epic crepusular beams.

Crepuscular Breams Verto

There were people lying on their backs enjoying the sights and sounds. All I can say to these people is – don’t drink the Kool-Aid!!

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

By this stage I felt like lying on the ground and passing out like these people, but knew I had barely started, and had to “complete the mission!” Onwards and upwards. I haven’t yet told you of the phenomenal amount of gear I was carrying, which included:

  • Gripped Canon 5D Mark III, with 7 batteries and 4 32GB memory cards
  • Canon 17mm f/4L TSE
  • Canon 8-15mm f/4L fisheye USM
  • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L II IS USM
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Canon 85mm f/1.2L II USM
  • Canon 1.4x III extender
  • Really Right Stuff pano head and rail
  • Benro tripod

…yep a hell of a lot of gear, and back-breaking! Next year I’ll leave out the 16-35, 50mm, 85mm and extender. I made good use of the 17mm TSE, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, and also some great unique inside shots with the fisheye. I think that’ll be my 4-lens kit for next year.

So anyway we were getting delirious but knew the city awaited. By this stage it was around 2:30am, and time had started to fly. Unfortunately we completely missed Monuments (was it not working at that time?!), but the Yarra was looking fantastically smooth as not a puff of wind could be felt! Check the glassy reflections here (and also on my Flickr for a bigger version)…

A Glassy White Night

Walking up over the pedestrian bridge into the city at about 3:30am, I got my first taste of some candid street shots with the 70-200…

Tangled up in Blue

Queen of the Selfie

Next we grabbed the “low hanging fruit” of The Forum, Flinders St Station and St Paul’s Church. I won’t post all of ’em, but here’s The Forum, in all it’s light-painted glory…

The Forum Train

By this stage we were all pretty wrecked but there was more to shoot, so we headed North through the city. Thankfully Swanston St was relatively clear, and even more thankfully – Pie Face had plenty of much-needed hot pies and sausage rolls! We made it to the Victorian State Library, and my two compadres headed in (seen below) as I shot the lights outside…
State Library Ferns

…which were bedazzling…

Epic State Library

…as were the lights inside…

State Library Aids Tilted

We studied DNA strands and death statistics before one of my mates peeled off. Yet there was one more throw of the dice… I had to get to Purple Rain! On the way we caught a rock show circa 6am on Lonsdale St…

Londsdale St Rock

It was with some relief that we finally got to Purple Rain. As soon as I chimped the milkbottle (Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM) shots, I know I was onto something. They are some of my best shots of the night. Thanks to my mate who actually corrected some of my settings, as I was so spacy at that stage I had IS off and didn’t even have f/2.8 dialled in. Check them…

Purple Ruckenfigur

Purple Walk

Purple Spin

Purple Look

We thought we still might be able to catch some Synchro, but it was not to be…

Synchro Cancellation

Then things got a little weird…

Pig Man Onesie Carnival Girl Red Hipster Busker

We made it back to Flinders St Station, where people were still dancing, or walking seriously…

Walk or Dance

So all in all it was a great night. Last year this event attracted upwards of 300,000 people. This year it was estimated that between 500,000 and 550,000 people were in attendance. Apparently the city of Melbourne has guaranteed funding for this event for the next three years, and I’m already looking forward to what 2015 may bring!