How To Photograph Cullen Bay, Darwin At Sunset

Sunset over Cullen Bay, Darwin

Cullen Bay is one of the best locations in Darwin for a sunset view. I made this image from the balcony at the Cullen Bay Resort where I was staying.

For Great Sunset Photos Make Sure You Get A Balcony

I opted for an aperture of f/11 for optimal image sharpness and to provide me with a large depth of field.

Because it’s impossible for a camera to record the world the way we perceive it, when photographing such a high contrast scene, I opted for a High Dynamic Range (i.e., HDR) workflow.

In this case the brightness range between the brightest parts of the sky and the darkest trees was so significant that I chose a 9 image HDR sequence ranging, at one stop intervals, from 1/250 down to a 1 second exposure time. Fortunately it was a very still evening, which made it easier combining the 9 individual exposures together on the desktop into the HDR composite exposure.

While I still prefer working at an ISO of 100 I settled on ISO 400 to minimize movement in the clouds and palm trees during the longer exposure times in the series. If I'd opted for ISO 100 then the 1 second exposure would have been 4 seconds which, because of movement in clouds and trees, would likely have caused problems registering all 9 images together into the single composite HDR exposure.

Kakadu Is A Wild And Beautiful Adventure

This was my third visit to Darwin and Kadadu National Park. As it was late in the wet season my intention was to photograph thunderstorms in Darwin, thus the need for a room with a balcony, as well as crocodiles in Kakadu.

While I enjoyed photographing some Darwin sunsets the evening thunderstorms occurred while I was in Kakadu, on a ground floor room with no view to speak of. But it was exciting. Several hours during my first night at the excellent Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, in the small town of Jabiru, were spent largely in darkness as a storm cut power to the hotel. But it was a simple matter of heading into the restaurant where candles, cold beer and pleasant hotel staff made for a relaxing evening.

Glennie Guy To The Rescue

The second night was also eventful. I was down at the local lake, where they’d just pulled a crocodile out a few days earlier, for sunset when the rain came down like there would be no tomorrow. It was only about 2 kms back to the hotel, but it must have taken me 15 minutes in the car to get there.

Once there I noticed a local lass who was stranded outside the hotel entrance, after heading out for a run just before the clouds burst. I took her home and heading back to the hotel, this time avoiding a tree that had fallen onto the road just minutes before.

Australia’s Top End is an amazing part of the world. It’s wild, scenic and not without danger. Be prepared, stay calm and hydrated and enjoy the wildlife and landscapes in safety.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru