I'm addicted to watching the sunrise. Especially here in Sydney near the ocean - it's such a great way to start the day. When I first moved to Sydney from England, I couldn't believe how many people were up at the crack of dawn. Even in winter the beaches are busy with walkers, swimmers, boot campers and photographers. It's great to be surrounded with such positive energy first thing in the morning.
These are my favourite Sydney sunrise locations for photography. In my experience, most of the magic starts to happen around 15-20 minutes BEFORE the sunrise. So be sure to get to your location at least half an hour before sunrise so that you are prepared. This website lists Sydney sunrise times throughout the year: http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/australia/sydney. You're welcome!
1. BONDI BEACH
Sydney's most famous beach offers fabulous sunrise viewing. For photographers, there is always lots happening and it's reliable at high and low tides. For sunrise, you want to be at the south end of the beach - the same end as the famous Icebergs oceanpool. Keep an eye out for any puddles left behind by the waves as these can reflect any clouds in the sky and will add some foreground interest to your photos. You'll need to get down low to capture these. It's important to keep an eye on the surf - waves at Bondi can be unpredictable and I have often been caught out by a rogue wave with myself and my camera narrowly escaping a soaking.
2. BRONTE BATHS
About 3kms along the coast from Bondi is Bronte Beach. It's not as big as Bondi but is just as beautiful. It's famous for pumping surf and the VERY photogenic ocean pool which sits on the south side of the beach. It is my absolute favourite place in the world to photograph. My favourite angle to capture the pool is really low along the edge of the pool itself. There are always interesting water patterns, sometimes there are reflections on the concrete and on clear days, silhouettes of people enjoying the pool add interest to photographs.
The most important thing to remember when shooting at Bronte is to always, always keep an eye on the surf. There is a well known 'splash zone' along the pool edge which has caught me and many others out many times. Although you may be able to withstand the splash, your camera may not!
3. MANLY BEACH
Manly is the jewel of Sydney's northern beaches. It has a huge surfing culture and in 2012 it was declared a world surfing reserve. There is 3km of beach front to explore as well as a walkway to Cabbage Tree Reserve and Shelley Beach which are well known snorkelling spots. There are of course also endless coffee and cafe options. My favourite part of Manly to photograph is the storm water pipes which are towards the southern end of the beach.
4. CAMPBELL'S COVE/SYDNEY HARBOUR
Where better to watch the sunrise than over one of Australia's biggest icons - the Sydney Opera House. Campbell's Cove is situated on the harbour, directly outside the Park Hyatt hotel and looking directly out at the harbour and of course the Opera House. It's a particularly good spot if you are staying near the CBD and don't want to venture too far before dawn. The opera house always looks good, and there is a good range of composition options at this location. Be sure to attempt the famous 'reflection' shot. To take this you need to stand on the steps leading down from the Park Hyatt hotel.
5. TAMARAMA BEACH
Sandwiched between Bondi and Bronte is the smaller Tamarama Beach - sometimes nicknamed Glamarama. This is my go to beach at low tide as there are some great rock pools which can create stunning reflections in the right conditions. To get to the best spot, walk along the rocks on the north end of the beach - but be careful as the rocks can be very slippery. If you are not confident with climbing the rocks, the beach itself is also a great place to shoot. This is also a very popular surfing spot, so this is also a great location for surf photography.
6. BLUES POINT
Blues Point Reserve in North Sydney is the best place to shoot if you want to capture both the Sydney Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunrise. If you are lucky, and it is a fairly still morning, you can capture some spectacular reflections at this spot. I like to use both a very wide angle lens at this location (to capture the harbour bridge in full), and a telephoto lens to zoom in and capture the details of the opera house. This is also a spectacular spot to shoot fireworks over the opera house too if you are ever lucky enough to be able to capture it. What I like about this location is that it is usually very quiet and you'll often have the spot all to yourself.
7. MAHON POOL
Mahon Pool is a popular ocean pool in Sydney's East. You'll find the pool just before Maroubra Beach as you head south along the coast from Coogee. Take the steep set of stairs down to the beach from the car park and there are an array of places to sit and watch the world go by. If you want to capture lots of water movement, then the best time to shoot is mid to high tide as the water levels will be high enough to start washing over the pool. Be careful on very high tides though, as it can get very hairy here. Low tide is the best time to get close to the pool.
8. COOGEE BEACH
Coogee is another very famous Sydney beach, and whilst I have always enjoyed walking and swimming here, I have struggled with shooting it in the past. For me, the go to from a photography perspective is the famous Ross Jones Memorial Pool. The opportunities to capture water motion at this pool are endless and you'll see photographers lining up to capture it. Be careful at high tide - whilst the flow is great, you do risk the option of getting wet. You have been warned! Also, good luck with parking, it's a nightmare!