Tuesday 21 February 2023

Presenting Art In A Unique Architectural Space - Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Last year, I had the opportunity at last, to photograph inside the unique architectural space that is the cistern of the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. The occasion, the Head On Photography Festival 2022 which uses the garden and cistern as equally unique exhibition spaces for the Portrait Prize and selected exhibitions. 

Virtual Tour photography of the Head On Photography Festival 2022 at Paddington Reservoir Gardens

 While no attempt was made to show-the-show, I did want to showcase the architectural space and how the photographic exhibitions work in those spaces. To encourage people to come and see the photographs for themselves. You do not need a lot pictures, just a few thoughtful, well executed virtual tour panorama photographs to achieve this goal. What do you think? Will you be heading down to the next exhibition held at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens? Maybe these pictures are inspiring you to book the venue for yourself. Imagine what a virtual tour like this can do for your space! https://www.hi-fidelity360.com/

Head On Photography Portrait Prize 2022


Head On Photography Festival 2022 at Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Head On Photography Festival 2022 at Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Head On Photography Festival 2022 at Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Head On Photography Festival 2022 at Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Entry Gates


Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863


Monday 4 July 2022

Bushwalking in Brisbane - Seven Hills Bushland Reserve, 360° Virtual Tour

This is the bush that I grew up with. As a kid, my parents' house backed onto a private allotment of undeveloped scrub that joined the bush along Creek and Richmond roads. Most of that parcel of land was developed long ago though remnants remain, like the Rembrandt Street Park which follows the flow of Todman Street Creek - as we called it - that flows into the Minnippi wetlands. There is still a small section of bush that goes through to Richmond road though my closest access point is D'arcy Road, where my parents still live today. Back in the 1970s, we would occasionally ride our bikes along the gulley trails that seemed to have been there forever. The hills are very steep so we didn't often bother trying to go up them! There were some fire roads too, though I don't recall them being so distinct or extensive as they are now.

Three children in a Brisbane backyard in the 1970s with bush behind the property line to the horizon
The bush began at the property line of our backyard.

In the 1990s the remaining 50+ hectares of land which had not been released for development, was declared a Reserve by the Brisbane City Council. The future of this near-city parkland has been looking up ever since. In 2006 I took up documenting this rapidly changing area I grew up in, whenever I was visiting. Mostly by photographing Post War homes - on treeless blocks under an open sky, that remained as I remembered them walking to and from school. Then in 2019, having started shooting 360-degree panoramas the year before, I decided to see how an environment as visually busy as the bush would work, it looked like a challenge worth trying.

360° Panorama of Peak Ridge, the Highest Point  in the Seven Hills Bush Reserve
Peak Ridge, the Highest Point - Seven Hills Bush Reserve

The first series of shots were made toward the end of a long dry spell in September 2019. The second set is after a drought-breaking storm on the 12th of December of the same year. This clearly shows the impact of the massive flow of water - and debris through the previously dry gullies which are now a series of ponds or billabongs, where I saw kids catch yabbies in my  youth.

Paperbark trees in the gully after heavy rain - a 360° Panorama viewed flat. Seven Hills Bushland Reserve.
In the gully after heavy rain - 360° Panorama

In 2021 I was back for an extended stay to help out with family matters and took to going for morning or evening walks in the reserve a bit like a born-again-local! I decided to try out all the trails I could find which eventually lead me to the other side of Peak Ridge and The Promenade down to Perrin Creek, which is an area I had never explored before.

Bushland streets trees and signs - Uranus Avenue & Tiburtina Crescent looking toward Latina Ave Trail Head - a 360° Panorama viewed flat. Seven Hills Bushland Reserve.
Uranus Avenue & Tiburtina Crescent looking toward Latina Ave Trail Head

There are a lot of unusual names for Australian streets and hills, in Seven Hills, though it was only after looking at a topographic map of the area after making these 360s that I began to see why.  The Hills and many streets take their names from the seven hills of Rome, as in Rome, Italy. Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Quirinal Hill, Aventine Hill, Caelian Hill, Viminal Hill and Esquiline Hill, which locals call the Promenade after the steep street that in typical Brisbane style simply runs straight up it!

Under a tall tree, Seven Hills Circuit at Perrin Creek - a 360° Panorama viewed flat. Seven Hills Bushland Reserve.
Seven Hills Circuit at Perrin Creek - 360° Panorama

Perhaps a little ironically, only Esquiline Hill is part of the reserve with the hills inside the park being Peak Ridge at 68 meters and Days Hill at 47, the cardio stars of The Seven Hills Circuit walking track. Back towards Richmond Road, there are more European street names with Brussels, Britannia and Paris Avenues - I wish I had known how international we were out here in Brisbane suburbia when growing up.

'Kent have you ever been to Paris?'
'Sure, we used to ride our bikes there as kids!'

Tree ferns and foliage On the banks of Perrin Creek - a 360° Panorama viewed flat. Seven Hills Bushland Reserve.
On the banks of Perrin Creek - 360° Panorama

The two 'tours' I created are an attempt to show some of my key places within the reserve and a variety of conditions, from dry to damp and the variety of trees and scrub, and I hope to share the feeling I experience when simply walking along looking up into the trees, down into the gullies and along the banks of a creek or trail. There is plenty of birdlife, insect life, possibly Koalas (though I've never seen one - I've met people who say they have) lizards, water dragons, snakes, possums, and other walkers with dogs (on leads please) and runners. Even riders on horses - though banned.

Paperbarks near Perrin Creek near Phalerum Ave - a 360° Panorama viewed flat. Seven Hills Bushland Reserve.
Paperbarks near Perrin Creek near Phalerum Ave in 360°

Seven Hills Bush Reserve is a much more diverse and interesting area than I ever realised. The air is fresh. There are views of the city and the thin sticky trees I didn't think much of as a kid, I now think of as unique! And there are a lot of other trees there too, large and small, and as volunteers and rangers keep working, it looks like the reserve will continue to have a lot to offer for a long time to come.

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Thursday 28 April 2022

Seven 360° Hero Shots, One Terrific Story

The story of a contemporary, ECO-friendly co-working space in Sydney's Inner West. A seven shot virtual tour of six spaces, from their largest multi-purpose event hall to the intimate round table meeting rooms. Boardroom, Workroom and Workshop space. 

Co-working space reception photographed as part of a 360° Virtual Tour
Co-working space reception photographed as part of a 360° Virtual Tour
The building is a comfortably repurposed 100-year-old factory with beautiful original hardwood floors and exposed ceiling beams, lots of natural light along with live plants, cool decor, funky modern furniture and lighting fixtures. And because this is 360-degree photography you can see every detail, up, down, all the way around. Or as I have started to say, “all front, no back!” I like that. Because it is true. There is a lot more real estate in the photograph, it's a lot of front! 

Four views, infinite choices, from one Hi-Fidelity 360°photograph.
Four views, infinite choices, from one Hi-Fidelity 360°photograph.

Feedback from the client, the producer and the staff implementing the virtual tour has been very positive. When I shared it on my social media the response was fantastic too. I think one of the reasons for this is that using logically connected hero shots to tell the story of the space makes it quick and easy to follow.

Screenshot of the 360° view of the Workshop space, navigation and hotspots activated.
Screenshot of the 360° view of the Workshop space, navigation and hotspots activated.

What's a hero shot? It's a high-quality picture that speaks to you, that captures your attention and imagination. The tour is a series of hero shots that compliment each other to tell the story concisely, and this is what we have done here. 

Navigation Click the X for Fullscreen Thinking about how a virtual tour can work for you? Feel free to email, or give me a call, I can Zoom too if you like. High quality, Hi-Fidelity 360 photography is a visual experience that builds engagement with your business like no other photography can.

Flat view of the Small Meeting Room 360° photograph.
Flat view of the Small Meeting Room 360° photograph.

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Monday 19 July 2021

Telling Stories With 360 Degree Virtual Tour Photography

 It's a lot like film making really, you need a beginning a middle and an end. It's story telling. You do that with still images too, a travel story, fashion story, lifestyle, the photographer illustrates 'the story' with pictures. Virtual tour panorama photography – yes it really needs a better name, VR maybe? Maybe not.. Anyway, this photography combines aspects of film making and the traditions of still photography whilst being something uniquely different. A 21st century hybrid photo that is completed and experienced with a computer and software. Without which you are back to a flat static photo. 

Virtual Tour Architectural Heritage Photography  - Vaculuse House, Sydney
Architectural Heritage - Vaculuse House, Sydney
 With the computer a mobile phone, tablet or OCULUS type headset device you have an immersive experience a lot like a movie. Some would say it puts you the viewer at the centre of the experience, and I would certainly not argue with that. The 'tour' part simply means multiple pictures joined together, creating a loose narrative. Movies.. are also still pictures joined together. Pictures in a sequence running at X number of frames a second, to create the illusion of movement in time, like magic! Though you need the machinery to make it happen.

One of the great things about, lets just call it Virtual Tour Photography (VTP). Is that you can create a story, a narrative that is not locked into a fixed timeline the way a film is. With a film you start at the start, and after how ever long the director decides, you arrive at the end. And if the film stops moving what you have is a still photo again!

Architectural heritage photography by Hi-Fidelity 360

The 360 degree VTP image is not fixed to a timeline and it's not a fixed point of view, look up, down, in front, behind, anywhere you choose – when you choose – for as long as you choose. Narrative, the sequence of images can also be decided by the viewer. If you want to you can; make a movie from the many views provided by a single 360 VTP image. Budding film maker Robert Luxemburg took a single Street View image and directed and narrated a Jean Luc Goddard style short film from it! He really did, it's called Jean-LucGodard and Anne-Marie Miéville on Google StreetView. Is it really them? For me; well that's another story, I do think it's true. Most impressively it makes the point, that any 360° image can be animated into a movie, and it's possible to link the pictures together into that fixed movie narrative too.

It's a cute and clever little film but what can I say, the image quality is just terrible! I guess that's what you get when you 'acquire' your picture(s) from a car that drives around with a camera on top, collecting 'data' - which is how Google sees pictures.

So lets think about quality too. The novelty of the VTP wears off pretty quickly when parts of the picture crash into each other, overlapping walls, floors and details; distorting important parts of the picture when the scene should be smooth, mesmerising, perfect. Accurately presenting the reason it was commissioned for in the first place. Small rooms can be particularly challenging to 'gather data' from in the way that people view the world, as can be seen in this 'Arts & Culture' picture supplied by Google from inside the historic Macquarie Lighthouse. More of a pictorial mash-up than immersive educational experience.

Macquarie Lighthouse Stairs (with errors) Looking Up - By Google Maps
Macquarie Lighthouse Stairs (with errors) Looking Up - Screenshot from Google

Quality is important and quality takes many forms starting with the vision for a project. As the saying goes, 'if you don't know where you are going you will probably end up somewhere else'. So a clear vision from the beginning about a projects end result is important.

Then there is the look and feel of the project. I started shooting my Ocean Pools project in Sydney during the southern hemisphere's winter months. Why? Because I would have less people in the pools and populating the landscape, and winter light in Sydney is just glorious. Soft and very clear with beautiful blue skies. Details are revealed without the issues of the harsh summer sun - with it's very bright highlights and deep shadow. When shooting 360s outdoors you will always be shooting directly into the sun, and away from it on every shot. This is something that can often be avoided with traditional photography. It took me quite some time to work out how to deal with sun flare, along with the extreme highlights and shadows of most pictures – oh for that even softer European light!

Bronte Ocean Baths - 360° Sydney Ocean Pools Series
Bronte Ocean Baths - 360° Sydney Ocean Pools Series

Then there are the artistic and creative choices about how the picture should look after processing. HDR – High Dynamic Range – has been quite popular with some 360° photographers. It's hardly surprising given the difficulties of balancing the dynamic range, the light and shade of a picture that sees everything. Though to my eye, most HDR simply looks artificial. And I like my pictures to look like the subject that is the place. Ideally looking at it's best, but treated in such a way that when I see it in real life, I don't feel like I've been hoodwinked or cheated. Fortunately as a commercial photographer I have both experience and tools at my disposal to fulfil this optimised 'natural' vision for the finished image.

Perhaps the final piece of the quality puzzle is that old axiom of 'less is more'. In this case key shots in key places. Where you put the camera, one's point-of-view has always been one of the most critical skills for photographers and cinematographers alike. Never has this skill been more important or the lack of it more apparent than in 360 degree photographs. There is literally nowhere to hide, so the position of the camera is paramount to ensure the picture looks good, interesting and exciting, up down and all around. It's a huge call and one that takes time to develop an eye for. 

Mutitjulu Waterhole walk beside the rock, strong light, red sand, scrub and trees Uluru. Virtual Tour of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Sails Resort
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - Virtual Tour

Once the pictures have been decided, made and processed. Then they can they can be used to create the story you have planned to tell. That story can and should be more than a so-called 'virtual tour'. After all it's your story, the story of your place, the history, the elements, the people, the experiences. VTR, Virtual Tour Photography made with a vision for the project is a movie like, cinematic experience where the viewer chooses the timeline and level of engagement, done well it's like being there. 

 I've been putting together 360° stories that highlight a place or places, a hotel or destination to show how a presentation can work, and work for you. The pictures illustrating this blog post/article/essay all click through to the full 360° multi image story, the whole Virtual Tour.. Done with vision, your story will be memorable, the audience with be interested and your customers engaged. Contact me to discuss creating your story in 360 degrees.

Sails Resort and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Virtual Tour

Telling Stories in Pictures the World Over..

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863

Sunday 25 April 2021

Personal Project : Hyde Park Barracks Art Installation

 I love a good art installation! A few mornings ago I logged into Facebook and as I scrolled down I came across a post by my friend, artist Marlene Sarroff, one of the people who do help keep me up-to-date on art. Right there in my 'feed' were 25 shots Marlene had taken of Australian artist Fiona Hall's 2021 installation 'Who goes where?' 300 signposts depicting people transported to Sydney, which ship and from where and why. Every post represented someone who had passed through the Hyde Park Barracks between 1819 and 1887. I had made one 360° shot of the front of the barracks in 2018 while I was still figuring out just how the circular panorama worked. It was OK for helping my being Street View verified by Google - but I wanted to get back and photograph this important historic building with my now greatly improved skills. I am also a fan of Fiona Hall's art so, seeing Marlene's shots galvanised me into action and I set out that very day.

Panoramas of Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, Australia
Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, Australia

I started out front and in the five or so minutes it took me to set up the the light travelled across a third of the front of the building! It's already moving that fast. I will most likely return for a full light on the front shot though I don't mind the mystery of this shot. Next was the north side in full light, in amongst the signposts themselves. This makes for a highly interactive experience of being in amongst the art installation, something I think 360 does best.
Who goes here? Art Installation by Fiona Hall at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Who goes here? Art Installation by Fiona Hall
Followed by a shot from out front on Queens Square, looking through the gates, across to Hyde Park, back to St Andrews then north to the Morton Bay Fig trees obscuring The Mint.
Hi-Fidelity 360° Panorama of Queens Square, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Hi-Fidelity 360° Panorama of Queens Square, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney

Can you believe it's now only 2:28 PM on the 23rd of April! Twenty minuets from the first shot and I sat on a bench briefly thinking about what would make a good sequence from the relationship between the art and the historic site.
Who goes here? South View, Art Installation by Fiona Hall at Hyde Park Barracks
Who goes here? South View, Art Installation by Fiona Hall at Hyde Park Barracks

One last shot from the south side, there's some construction work on access to the Registrar-General's Building - so I have shielded the worst of that with the trunk of the tree. I'm happy with the outcome and the  quality of the 360's do click the image below to see them in all their Hi-Fidelity 360° glory, double click (fast) to go fullscreen.

Visit High-Fidelity 360° to learn more about how your business can benefit from 360° panorama photography.

 Telling Stories in Pictures the World Over..

Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Innovation - Why Technology Does Not Equal Design?

Technology marches forever onward at what can seem like an ever maddening pace. For decades now becoming more central to our lives in nearly every thing we do; with Siri, Alexa and "Hey Google" personal assistants bringing that relationship ever closer.

Computers, and Information Technology (I.T.) and User Experience (UX) are part of the design world too. It's no surprise that designers produce work on computers. Photography too, is now largely computer based, especially once you have made your picture. Though I do most of my own I.T. I am not a professional, though I enjoy some of the technical aspects and 'know my way around', the nuts and bolts of it all. One of the things I loved about traditional photography was the mechanical side and marrying that to the creative ideas I had. Cost wise, getting the technical side right and the creative side right too; was paramount. Failure at the technical or creative side, could easily see you out of the game. Which made making the right choices very important.

The computer makes everything seem possible. I mean, I won't have to look for a publisher to get this article out. I'm typing straight into Blogger. When I'm ready I just need to hit the button that says 'Publish', and I'm done! Though the story might be better if it had an editor look it over first.. Everything has crossed over. Computers have made it possible for me to write, with less catastrophic spelling than you would see if you read my hand written notes..

There's opportunities for pretty much everyone to have a go at pretty much anything they choose to have a go at - digitally, these days. And that's a good thing and something I am very grateful for.

Though I am not sure I would be able to build another web site completely from scratch. Mobile first, tablet then desktop, responsive design. Actually I think most 'responsive' design websites look pretty much the same. Why? The phone's screen does not have a lot of real estate to spare. Navigation? Look for three bars... But I digress; or do I.. Some technology innovations can make you look bad. In the case of my website, with a phone you may need to pinch on the screen, and that works fine, but apparently it's not fully mobile compliant - so Google reminds me of this every once in a while via email, (not any more, I updated to full responsive in late 2019) and the threat of search downgrading if I don't make a change. But I still like my design. And as I said to a friend recently, "well it may not be mobile friendly, but it's not mobile hostile either!" So that's one way technology can make you look bad.

Another way technology can make you look bad is when the presentation of the technology is overpowered by the technology itself. As a photographer in the fashion trade, I used to refer to this as the dress wearing the model, as opposed to the other way around. It does not work, no matter how beautiful the garment is, or the model, it just doesn't look good, like kids dressed in their parents clothes, cute maybe, but not to be taken seriously. This is something 360° photography is having to deal with right now. Part of the issue is that 360° photography is technology driven at virtually every stage. It's the first of a new kind of 'captured' photography that cannot be experienced on paper; well not as an interactive photosphere. It is very different.

Movies. Films were new once too; and potentially difficult to understand. I remember as a young art student studying filmmaking, being told of film's evolution. At first, if characters went from place A to place B - the journey must be shown too, on foot or by car, train.. so as not to confuse the audience, as to how they got there, in the next scene. Now we don't bother. Well. Have you ever taken a Virtual Tour made to Google Street View's a-picture-every-three-feet specification? It's ridiculous! Like wierd software trying to make a movie with no script. No director, and no ideas. The sequence of images attempting to be a narrative of a place; ends up a complete mess that says nothing at all.

If the photographer does not have a vision for the picture they are making, the picture will not present itself as an effective vision of the subject or the place. To anyone. This idea is so basic, it's hardly discussed within creative circles at all, where understanding and investigation of your subject is taken as a given. But when you have imaging based in technology and not design, the aesthetics and the psychology of why an image works are easily - no pun intended - completely left out of the picture.

So these are the issues confronting those who want to innovate by using 360° photography. Without a doubt the benefits of being able to show more, more effectively are inherent in the new medium. Making the the right choice? Well these are still marketing pictures. And your clients are as time poor and discerning as ever. Engaged they click in, otherwise, they will click away. So you need captivating pictures, seamlessly implemented that show what you have, directly, succinctly, creatively. No one has time to click through 5, 10, pictures of your foyer and a sea of indecipherable ugly arrows or symbols everywhere; just to find the front desk. It's a waste of everyone's time and a production expense you don't need.

And when you have good design, you don't want a bull in a china shop approach to displaying that good design. What you want is a quality presentation that highlights your good taste, as seamlessly and as effectively as possible. Not just what you know, it's what you show. Quality, efficiency, and good design.

Some things never change.


Sunday 27 December 2020

Visiting Cockatoo Island - A High-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour

It had been years since I last visited Cockatoo Island and that first visit coincided then as it does now; with the former shipbuilding site in Sydney Harbour hosting large scale art installations for the Sydney Biennial. My first trip was not particularly memorable. At least, the memories are of a very hot day, blasting sun, a vast 'apron' of concrete to be traversed, and a crush of people too. The art at the time; did not leave an impression, though the massive old ship building machinery did; a giant lathe, industrial steam hammers or whatever they were; they looked impressive, but were not so accessible. That was my first visit and I really had no idea where I should go and what I should see. If only there had been a virtual tour to guide me around the island before I went - so I knew what to look out for - something like a really useful map, a virtual map with pictures.. So I've made one myself.

Workshops on upper Cockatoo Island, one of a virtual tour series of High-Fidelity 360° panoramas.

Fast forward to 2020; a year no one will ever forget, the year where doing nothing is helping flatten the curve. Fortunately in Sydney; we seemed to have 'done nothing' well and have stayed ahead of the worst issues, thank you to all the people getting it right! This means I was able to mask up; and take the ferry from Wharf F at Barangaroo out to Cockatoo Island. I was inspired by a friend who had journeyed there just days before; and pictures I had repeatedly seen, everywhere, of the huge art installation in the machinery hall. It was a mild and sunny winters day as I set out across the harbour with no particular expectations; other than to grab a few Hi-Fidelity 360° shots; and maybe add a harbour swimming pool; to my personal project of Sydney Ocean Pools and Harbour Baths. I had read that one of the slipways had at one time been used as a 'swimming pool' and was keen to see that too, for myself.

The largest cran on Cockatoo island photographed in Ultra high Resolution by Kent Johnson.
While the island was host to an MCA Biennial art exhibition. I had resolved to take in the history of the island first; and save looking at the art for another day. Alighting the ferry I made my way past the art deco-ish administration building (a shot I will make another day) and made may way straight across the long concrete runway like sweep of the 'Eastern Apron'. This is the main approach to Cockatoo Island though hardly its most flattering aspect. The 'apron' consists of lage concrete slabs abutting a tall cliff along the western edge, with the harbour admittedly looking very nice on the eastern side. As you walk across this flat white plain you may notice a tunnel dug through the cliff face; there are others too, though they are are generally closed to the public. The view directly in front is a jumble of cheap corrugated iron buildings, factory functionality on an industrial scale.

This is how I remember it from my first time, a vast barren expanse though without so many seagulls putting their chip stealing eyes on me as I make toward the machinery hall. True there is a colonial sandstone building that has been patch-worked into the structures ahead; and behind it the pointy pinnacle of a cranes' skyward pointing boom. But it does not look an enticing destination. Well it was a navel shipyard so one would expect that function, not decoration was the design rational for such a place. An assumption I discovered as I made my way around the island this time; to be completely wrong, at least if you find your way to the right parts.

A High-Fidelity 360° Virtual Tour of Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour

Having made the decision to photograph the industrial heritage of the island and not focus on the contemporary art curation of the spaces. Instead of slipping through the doors of the massive machinery building to view the artworks, I took the roadway between the workshops toward the large crane. Now I was seeing wide open old industrial spaces for the first time as I worked my way clockwise around the island. My first 360° panorama photograph was midway along the Eastern Apron,  the picture features a banner artwork high up on the cliff walk. Next location I was being dive bombed by a squadron of seagulls defending their nests close to the tall crane pictured above. I had to back up 10 meters to avoid the persistent swooping, to be able to get my shot; and I was very glad to have a tripod to wave around above my head until things settled down. It seems the whole island is rookery during August and wherever there is a niche there is a nest; in the less travelled parts the seagulls are much more aggressive. Beware!

Segulls squarking on Cockatoo Island

Having survived a sustained Hitchcock-like attack of 'The Birds' dive bombing and circling while I  made my pictures, I continued around the perimeter, happy for the company of other visitors along the path; there's safety in numbers after all; even if just a few.

Next was the Fitzroy Graving Dock begun by convicts over six years and completed in 1857; used for "laying down ships and repairs". There are three smaller cranes here and a late 20C brick and concrete building, I was fascinated by what I took at a distance to be a submarine's conning tower up the far end of the dock only to realise as I drew closer that it was the 'gate' to the dry dock, safely secured well back from the harbour entrance.

Shipyard buildings of the fitzroy graving dock - linked to 360 panorama photograph

There are two dry docks on this the southern apron of the island, two watery fingers slicing into the land at an acute angle looking as if  they wish to join up into a single canal of their own.. if such a thing were possible. Here on the southern apron there are also modern marinas and an older jetty that would make a much more interesting arrival point. Looking around I can't believe I have not been here and seen these cranes and docks before; it is such a simple thing to get here. I'm fascinated by the machinery, the history and textures of the place. And I'm not yet half way around!

Continuing along on the pathway under the south cliff face I make my way to the pointy end of the island. A power station and a roofless concrete enclosure with a tiny low doorway, no door, and decide to squeeze through for a look. I found myself in an irregular shaped room with walls about 8 feet high, walls of concrete (the dome of Parthenon in Rome circa AD 26 is made of concrete..). Now with only the view of the off white walls and sky above, just hints of what lay beyond, some ship masts, the façade of the 1918 brick power house with its arched windows and matching round chimney. I felt I was in a curiously magical space - or at least a location where I could create some pictorial magic at the very least. I make a mental note and several 360° panoramas! It seems I was inside the old rope and sling store, and at one time the coal store; and at another, quite possibly the islands sewage plant. Phew! Though obviously not all uses were at the same time. I liked this completely unexpected odd shaped box.

Rope store on cockatoo island photographed as a 360 panorama

So I had reached the end of the island (it's the biggest in the Harbour - but it's not that big) and right smack bang, adjacent to the power station are Slipways 1 & 2. These are two parallel channels with ramps at each end. More of a pull the boat out of the water, than the close it off and drain it, big bathtub concept of the other two dry docks. I was pleased to see a net, a shark net maybe? Across the the wet end of slipway 1; and a sign saying 'no swimming', and some life buoys at intervals along the fence line. That confirming to my mind at least, that this was indeed, another of Sydney's harbour pools, if not exactly 'open' right now. As on the stepped sides of the Fitzroy Dock, Slipway 1 also had plenty of Seagull activity, though these ones happily content to leave me well alone.

Slipway 1 on Cockatoo Isalnd, fence and signs detail.

If you had been trying to take in all the art as well as the Industrial heritage, I think that by now you would be getting a little fatigued. So my recommendation is to look at the buildings - or look at art; because there is still a lot of island to see. You could simply walk back from here along the roadway past the camping site to the ferry - yes there is a 'camping hotel' here on the 'northern apron'. Or you can make your way up the switch back roadway to the 'Upper Island' the plateau. Now I had been up to the upper island once before, as far as a heavily peopled grassy patch of ground, and most likely art fatigued coupled with heat exhaustion went no further. And that as far as I remember was that. So essentially the whole of the Upper Island was left as an unexplored place and I was quite surprised to discover how much I had missed out on. It is up on the upper island; with it's mixture of extant convict buildings, mid 20th century multi-storied workshops and Colonial and Federation houses that another face of Cockatoo Island emerges. It's up on the plateau that the extreme harshness of the concrete aprons contrast against classic Australian architecture, gardens and lawns, and a tennis court with perhaps the cities best on-court view of Sydney Harbour. None of which I was really expecting to see in the richness I found; even after having perused Google maps and it's contributor-content pictures of the place. Cockatoo Island is a fine place to spend a day, there is a lot to discover and I will certainly be back.

You can see my 360° Cockatoo Island 'Industrial' Tour by clicking here.

Visit High-Fidelity 360° to learn more about how your business can benefit from 360° panorama photography.

A 360° virtual tour of the industrial heritage on Cockatoo Island.

 Telling Stories in Pictures the World Over..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia & The World.
0433 796 863