Blowering Dam Sunset

Blowering Dam at sunset

is a location which has been on my bucket list. There is something about the tower jutting out in the water which appeals to me. Maybe it is the concrete structure, the possibility of sky and clouds reflections, and the distant mountain skyline which makes it an interesting location to photograph.

The tower is along the dam wall. It is a long walk to the other end. 747 metres to be exact. There are no real vantage points at the other end of the wall and the wall is quite high. The far end does look back over the water channels below and if the dam is in full action, water running over the wall would be an impressive sight. But not today. The water level is quite low.

Blowering Dam is one of the largest water catchments in NSW.

Blowering Dam is one of the largest water catchments in NSW. It is named after a property Blowering Station. the dam stores water related further upstream for the Snowy’s Hydro Electricity Scheme. The place is a very popular location for water sports and fishing. Over this long weekend, I passed many fishermen and boats, campers, tents along the waters edge. There was quite a bit a traffic to the top of the dam wall. Be careful travelling on the road up. It is windy and narrow. AT dusk and dawn, wildlife is ever present. Having hit a wombat at night many many years ago, I know the damage that can be caused, so I am especially careful. Kangaroos like to travel to the water in the dawn and dusk. The many dead roos on the side of the road around the area can attest to this.

A wide angle lens is a must for this location.

A wide angle lens is a must for this location. I was fortunate to have an afternoon where there was very little wind and cloud in the sky, making for great reflections on the water. I began the afternoon with a Lee 10-stop Neutral density filter. I wanted the streaky clouds and reflections. Due to the vast distance between the main subject (The Tower) and the mountains in the distance, I went for a higher f-stop than I would normally with the Canon 16-35mm f/4 L lens. I hovered around f/11-f/13, ISO 100, and played about with slightly different angles of view.

There was a very bright break in the clouds in the middle of the frame so I played around with placing the tower in front of this sky highlight in hopes of reducing the overall contrast and possibility of blown highlights in the image. Using the Lee 10-stop, my exposure times ranged from 50 sec up to 160 sec. I was cracking my long exposures somewhat as the image was high in contrast with some deep shadows and bright sky. This does lead to a large number of images, many of which I will cull later on but I like to feel reassured I got the best exposure(s) possible from my time here (or anywhere) which I can work with later on. As an aside, depending on the amount of contrast in the scene I will bracket either 1-stop or 2-stops over and under. Once into Lightroom I will merge to HDR and then delete the original bracketed images.

At this point, the wind was starting to pick up.

As the light grew dim, I went to a Lee 6-stop ND and raised the ISO slightly to 125. Exposure times were down a little. I also experimented with different f/stops as well. At this point, the wind was starting to pick up as I could see ripples coming closer from far across the water. The clouds were starting to get a little bit of colour as well.

With the further lowering levels of light, and I removed the 6-stop ND filter. The mountains in the far left were also starting to light up to a bright red. I wasn’t going to get the coloured cloud sunset I was after, but the orange/red effect on the distant mountains was pleasing. All the while, I need to keep reminding myself to check focus. I generally manually focus almost all my shots, particularly in low light conditions. A few potentially great images can be ruined with a ‘fluffy’ focus so it always pays to check.

My entire childhood was photographed via polaroid.

When I said earlier I wasn’t the only here, I met a couple also taking photos. One camera was a film camera. I know because I heard that unmistakable  click and wind of a film camera. Also, it was a panoramic camera. Not sure which brand, but it was definitely wider than taller! The couple also had a polaroid camera. I haven’t seen one of those since the 80’s. My entire childhood was photographed via polaroid, so I am very familiar with these. Great analogue gear but I am not sure I would go back to any sort film photography just yet. 


Canon 6D 1/15 sec @f/16, ISO100 16mm (EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM)

© Bronwyn Bell 2018