Week back in Sydney

We’d the opportunity to spend a week in Sydney. Work during the day, catch ups with friends over meals in the evening. And on the weekends, we did what we loved best in Sydney – exploring the outdoors.

Our original plan to kayak the first Sunday we were back was scuttled due to gusty winds of up to 45km/h. And our attempt to go again the following Saturday was stymied by the strong winds again, as was the SUP ball game our friend had planned for us in Manly.

Oh well. But Lisa had another idea up her sleeve happily for Saturday – hiking in Lane Cove National Park. It’s a beautiful little area of land, so serene and quiet amongst the trees, and so close to downtown! We spent an enjoyable 4 hours just meandering around, stopping for a warm cuppa tea (ginseng gin tea anyone!?).

The winds finally did die down Sunday morning though, before our 3pm flight. Garry, Jeff, and I managed to squeeze in a two hour paddle from Spit Bridge to Bantry Bay and back, one of my favorite training routes back when I was training for the Massive Murray Paddle. Good times.

Spied a seal rubbing itself against a moored boat

My happy place – floating on the Sydney Harbor

Our sunrise paddle customers always ask, do you get used to this view, seeing it every morning?

Not at all. It’s my happy place. Not gonna lie – it is difficult to get out of bed sometimes, to put on a cheery face and face the world. But without fail, as soon as I hit the water, I find my inner peace. And when we get excited and happy customers, I draw energy from them. By the time I pack up the kayaks and head off to work, I’m ready to take on the day.

Also, the harbor is different every morning. Sometimes the water is flat and glassy, sometimes choppy with white caps. Some days, we are lucky and the high clouds are painted vibrant hues of magenta and orange; other days the gloomy skies help our colorful kayaks pop out more in photos.

So everyday on the water, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be out there. Happily and thankfully, no, I won’t ever get used to this view.

Surprise birthday paddles with Sydney by Kayak

I love paddling around Sydney Harbor Bridge and in front of the Opera House at sunrise. Before the ferries start, the water is flat, sometimes glossy and glassy. It is quiet, except for the sounds of our paddles slicing through the water, and the occasional peals of laughter and excitement as our groups of paddlers push their kayaks beyond Luna Park and drink in the view of the iconic Opera House glinting in the golden pink hues of the early morning rays.

What makes it even more special, is when paddlers arrange for surprise paddles for their friends / significant others. Sometimes, it takes a bit of coaxing to get them out of bed before 5am in the morning, especially when they have no idea what’s in store, but always, their faces light up when they come to the boat ramp and see the colourful row of kayaks at the water’s edge.

And that’s only part one of the surprise! Part two is when we pass under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and float peacefully in front of the Opera House. That’s when Laura sneakily lights candles on cupcakes and then skillfully maneuvers one-handed to the surprised paddler. 😀

Totally worth those early morning calls!

Three Reasons why I Love to Photograph Cloudy Sunrises

ONE: Color, color, color!

When you get high cloud cover at sunrise, that’s pretty much the recipe for brilliant hues of pink and orange, not just in the sky, but spread all over the landscape – the water, the Opera House, people’s upturned faces.

Sunrise Paddle Friday Oct 6 2017


Sunrise Paddle Sunday Oct 8 2017


TWO: Drama, and texture

Clouds add a layer of depth to the landscape. Those billowing, menacing shapes are mesmerizing to behold.

And you never know what they can yield. Lightning (though hopefully, not while you’re out on the water), or rainbows.


THREE: Giant reflectors

Even on days where the clouds are so low and voluminous that they block out the sun, they help accentuate the landscape or subject matter, by acting as gigantic reflectors.

Sunrise Paddle Saturday Oct 7 2017


Sunrise Paddle Monday Oct 9 2017

Epic Sunrise on the Harbor Front

As a paddler and photographer, I live for beautiful sunrises out on the water. And once in a long, long while, the clouds align at sunrise and the sky just bursts into vivid colors of brilliant pink and orange. Friday was one such morning. As our group of paddlers with Sydney by Kayak pushed off the little beach on Lavender Bay towards the Harbor Bridge, we could see the Opera House catch the beginning rays of golden light.

In mere moments, the colors spread to the rest of the landscape. I was laughing in delight as I exhorted the kayakers to quickly take their positions in front of the opera house, because photographic gifts like that just have to be taken advantage of.

All too soon, the sun disappeared behind the clouds again, and it seemed almost inconceivable that we’d enjoyed such a stunning display. The rest of the day was shrouded in thick, low hanging grey clouds, but for the few of us who were out there at dawn, it was a beautiful day. 🙂

Sunrise Paddling in Spring

It’s been a fun past week of morning sunrises! The weather has been all over the place. Just earlier this week, we were shivering in 10 degrees; this morning, it was hot and humid at a very unseasonable 29 degrees. Not complaining though, it still felt glorious to be out on the harbor, enjoying the view.

Sydney by Kayak’s sunrise paddle tour was recently featured in Time Out too – very exciting stuff! It’ll also be in the print October issue, though I have no idea where to buy print copies. :/

Here are a couple recent sunrises where we popped underneath the Harbor Bridge to get closer to the Opera House. 🙂


Sunday Sunrise Paddle

Sunday morning – no clouds on the horizon, but the water was nice and glassy. Another beautiful and leisurely morning out on the water. It also marked the first day of our partnership with Sydney by Kayak!

Over the next few months, through the end of summer, ptanPhoto will be on hand on SBK’s Sunrise Kayak & Coffee tours, taking photos that paddlers can purchase as keepsake. Super pumped: more chances to be out on enjoying the early morning light and the peaceful gorgeous Sydney Harbor before the ferry boats churn up the water!

Sunrise paddle with Sydney by Kayak

Birthday Sunrise Paddle

We joined Sydney by Kayak for a sunrise paddle today. It’s been months since we went out with Laura; it was still summer the last time we did so, for kayak netball. She’s gotten brand new kayaks now, all bold and cheerful colors, with cut-out glass bottoms and coffee holders!

Not much cloud cover – but the water was really nice and glassy, which was awesome for quietly drinking in the pastel sunrise, and our coffees. Adding to our wonder, was the seal playing by Blues Point, although it’d pop right back underwater as soon as we raised our cameras!

Birthday boy Jeff enjoying an early start to his morning. And Laura, bless her heart, baked muffins as a birthday surprise. She even managed to light candles in her boat!

Beautiful way to kick off spring. 🙂 And after packing up the kayaks and heading home for a quick breakfast of champions, we rounded off the morning with a long swim from Manly to Shelly and back. The dozens of baby dusky whaler sharks that we’d seen circling the waters earlier in winter had now graduated into the open waters, but in their place we spied Port Jackson sharks and a couple of Guitar sharks. Super cool stuff!

Paddle to Shark Island

Our paddle with friends last weekend from Spit Bridge up Bantry Bay (11km round trip) was much fun and got us itching to hit the water again. So yesterday, we launched off from our jetty and paddled towards Shark Island.

It was a great workout – 16km round trip. What a gorgeous late winter morning: clear blue skies. Bit chilly to start, but we warmed up soon enough. We crossed over to the Opera House side for the first time – it was cool to see those sails from our little kayaks, although it was a little tricky navigating the waves caused by the ferry traffic.

By the time we rounded Shark Island, the boat traffic really picked up too, so we crossed back along the Taronga Zoo side. Perhaps it was a little too hectic for whales? Lol.

Sunrise paddling with Sydney by Kayak

Last week, I went out for a sunrise and coffee paddle with Sydney by Kayak, in part to enjoy the sunrise over the Sydney Opera House and Bridge, and in part to take photographs for their marketing efforts.

The last time I went out with Sydney by Kayak to take photographs for them, we didn’t see any sun at all thanks to complete cloud cover. This time, we had ZERO clouds. Oh well. You can never win.

Sunrise paddle with Sydney by Kayak

But the company and coffee was good, and we got to compare boat sizes with the P&O cruise ship that came into the harbor.