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2. Skyspace by Jenny Wu_feature

12 Must Shoot Places For Photographers In Canberra

James Harber

Canberra is perfect for photographers, beginners and experts alike.

Being a vibrant and beautiful city smack bang in the middle of the bush, and just along the Brindabella Ranges, it gives a whole host of awesome opportunities for photographers of every kind.

It can be challenging trying to find the right place to shoot landscape or fashion photography, but I’ve done the hard work for you and curated a definite list of 12 incredible places for you to get a great shot in, whether amateur or professional*.

Mount Stromlo Observatory

1 Mount Stromlo by Jenny Wu

Image: Jenny Wu

Perfect for all of you rustic, worn out building freaks.

The Mount Stromlo Observatory is part of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University (ANU).

However, one building in particular is perfect for those looking to grab a whimsical rustic shot; the burnt out observatory. Due to the terrible Canberra Firestorm of 2003, a number of buildings were destroyed. The burnt out husk of this observatory, however, has a beautiful mix of washed out whites, against the rusted brown of the old telescope gears.

Look out for:

  • The old burnt out observatory; this enclosed white washed space has become very popular with photographers and for good reason. An essential place for those ethereal captures.
  • The scenery looking down towards the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain; this backdrop provides an excellent outlook across one of the most notable icons of the Canberra skyline.
  • Just beyond the old buildings, there is a fantastic woodland with a few cycle tracks; have a look here and you will find some beautiful enclosed forest spaces.

Essential for your portfolio.

Location

Cotter Rd, Weston Creek, ACT

James Turrell’s Skyspace

2. Skyspace by Jenny Wu

Image: Jenny Wu

James Turrell‘s Skypaces are renown through the world. In his words; “A Turrell Skyspace is a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, ovular or square.” They have been installed in England, Japan, and Mexico to name a very few.

Turrell’s Skyspace for Canberra is located just adjacent to The National Gallery of Australia, and is enclosed by a stunning and gorgeous green mound of grass, circled by a serene water enclosure.

However, when you enter the space, you truly get an idea of why it is one of the hottest spots for Wedding, Portrait and Architectural photographers in the Canberra Scene. Gorgeous washed red pastel tones encompass the space, with the central whitewashed dome taking centre stage around another body of water.

Look out for:

  • The rest of the National Gallery of Australia; this may go without saying but the other areas around here are in their own right incredible locations to shoot.
  • The pure white inside of the dome in Skyspace; a dream for photographers who love to play with straight lines created by light.
  • The contrast of the blue water inside the Skyspace against the red pastel wash of the walls; colour match this with an outfit and you’ll have something very special.

Lighting nuts, please don’t miss this one.

Location

King Edward Terrace, Parkes, ACT

The Australian National Botanic Gardens

Image: Tina Nikolovski

Image: Tina Nikolovski

There is possibly no better place to get those stunning flower-y modelling photos than the Australian National Botanical Gardens.

The gardens maintain a scientific collection of native plants from all parts of Australia, and is a sight to behold. From silvery leaves to bright vibrant reds, the Australian National Botanical Gardens provide one of the most interesting places to make sure you get enough green in your photographs.

Look out for:

  • The copious and well scattered wooden benches; perfect for taking a break but even better as a posing platform for your model, and your gear.
  • The greenhouses located at the back of the garden; these beautifully arranged and curated domes offer some fantastic opportunities to get that perfect botanical shot.
  • The dense rain forest like areas and walkways down below; many paths lead down to the wooden boardwalk area, covered by an awe-inspiring canopy.

Green thumbs, take note.

Location

Clunies Ross St, Acton ACT

Gibraltar Falls

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

About 45 minutes out from the centre of Canberra, Gibraltar falls is a sight to behold.

Looking out onto Gibraltar Creek State Forest, this serene rock laden scene is perfect for those who are looking to get those incredible sunset shots, and intense valley look to their portfolio.

If you are looking for something a bit more exotic in your portfolio, the huge waterfall provides an excellent backdrop. Trying to showcase that bohemian style with a bit of flare? A plethora of different ledges and platforms adjacent to the running water will get you in the boho mood.

Look out for:

  • The huge waterfall down at the bottom of the railing section. Be prepared to get a little wet on a windy day, but this backdrop is one of the more awesome waterfalls around Canberra.
  • The small enclosed pool at the back of the top section; in the warmer months this natural platform allows the water to warm up slightly, making those submerged water shots a breeze.
  • The small river leading up to the top platform and cliff face; just behind the top collection of rocks and ledges lies the small river that feeds down over the waterfall. Get sat on one of the rocks on here and you have a scene that will grab anyone’s attention, looking down into the valley.

Watch out for the yabbies in the water and be careful along the cliff edges!

Location

Corin Rd, Paddys River, ACT

National Arboretum Canberra

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

No list of ‘where to visit in Canberra’ would be complete without listing the awe-inspiring National Arboretum.

Established in 2004 after the horrific previously mentioned Firestorm of 2003, The National Arboretum set out with the goal of establishing 100 forests and 100 gardens focusing on threatened, rare, and symbolic trees from around the world, created by landscape architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean and architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer.

Sunset canberra lake martin ollman feature

Image: Martin Ollman

Opened to the public in February 2013, the Arboretum has been a flagship location for wildlife studies and photography alike. A whole host of areas cater to photographers looking to get the much more ‘dense forest’ look whilst not having to wage war with the many creepy crawlies in the outback.

Look out for:

  • The incredible outlook and lone tree of Dairy Farmers Hill. Coming into the Arboretum, the top most hill will capture your attention in a heartbeat. Keep driving up until you get to the sign of Dairy Farmers Hill, and you’ll have the perfect outlook across all of West Canberra and beyond.
  • The Himalayan Cedar area just on the right as you drive in. One of my favourite parts of the Arboretum, this dense array of stunning Cedars provide the perfect atmosphere and location for everything from edgy wedding shots, to slightly creepier fashion shoots.
  • The incredible visitor centre. Don’t be fooled by all of the eye-catching greenery, the visitor centre itself is a wonder to behold. Lined with stunning tan coloured wood, and huge windows overlooking the arboretum, these provide an incredible scene for anyone looking to get something slightly more minimalist and natural.

My personal pick is the Himalayan Cedars. Stunning.

Location

Forest Dr, Canberra City, ACT

The Lennox Gardens and The Canberra Beijing Gardens 

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

The Lennox Gardens are another sterling example of Canberra’s diversity in public space. Encompassing The Nara Peace Park, and The Canberra Beijing Gardens, few photographers would be lost in not getting some incredible photos from these two beautiful landscapes. Located on Lake Burley Griffin, this isn’t a spot to be missed.

The Nara Peace Park was a gift from the people of Nara, Japan’s Ancient Capital, to the people of Canberra to celebrate the sister city link between Canberra, and Nara, linking these two capitals together. The Beijing Gardens have been designed in the style of the Qing Dynasty, which was a style symbol of luxury and refinement, evident by the generous amounts of stone masonry.

The Nara Park during the Canberra Nara Candle Festival. Image: Martin Ollman

The Nara Park during the Canberra Nara Candle Festival. Image: Martin Ollman

For the photographer, gorgeous planned grasslands and traditional Japanese architecture adorn the gardens; perfect for high-fashion styled shoots, or more simple candid photography.

Look out for:

  • The mosaic and stone gardens leading into the Beijing Gardens. One of the most notable designs in the garden, this huge towering arch with its fantastic red and gold pastel tones sets the perfect scene for those photographers who want a touch of oriental design in their photos.
  • The Chinese Pavilion. This incredible stone building speaks for itself when it comes to style and design. Whether looking to snap a peaceful shot of someone relaxing on the benches, or admiring the stunning lines and angles of the structure, you cannot miss this.
  • The dry riverbed of stones in between the Nara Peace Park and The Beijing Gardens. The clean, white appearance of this collection of smooth stones plays perfectly into the hands of photographers who are looking for that serene and relaxing landscape to capture.

A blessing from overseas.

Location

Flynn Dr, Yarralumla, ACT

Kingston Foreshore

Image: NO Photography

Image: NO Photography

One of the newer developments in Canberra, but certainly not without its own style and grace.

Since it’s transformation from transport and trade hub of the early 90’s to the now bustling cultural, social, and residential hub it is now, The Kingston Foreshore provides a myriad of different locations to shoot at for every photographer.

Image: Martin Ollman

Image: Martin Ollman

Ranging from the deep orange and red tones of the Brickworks where the delicious Broadburger resides, to the humble garden cropped in-between Walt and Burley and the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin, there is something for everyone.

Look out for:

  • The old brickworks building, complete with deconstructed pulleys; a gigantic old building, lined with green hedges on the back end, and simple cream paint on the outside, this spot lays down the framework you’d need for that slightly grungier shot.
  • The metal bridge leading over to the residential properties from Walt and Burley. Hitting up Kingston Foreshore in the evening brings a whole new light to the area, especially with this beautifully constructed bridge.
  • The benches and walkways by the shop fronts. With so many incredible and tasty destinations along the Foreshore, it is no surprise that some of the best and well-maintained places are right outside these establishments. Yet again, try during the day, and evening for a different experience.
Image: Martin Ollman

Image: Martin Ollman

Day and night, Kingston Foreshore is worth the trip.

Location

Eastlake Parade, Kingston ACT

Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Taking a slight detour up to the Goorooyarroo (such an awesome name) Nature Reserve, this is the perfect site for that Boho style shoot you’ve been itching to get into. Yes, Kangaroos may be a common appearance in good old Australia but never when it seems you have your favourite camera on you. This area changes everything.

Located just outside Gungahlin, this nature reserve was created in July 1973, and covers an insane area of 290 hectares. Not only that, but provides awesome views across the planes of Gungahlin.

Look out for:

  • Rock-wallabies and kangaroos loitering around the slightly shaded areas; perfect for nature and wildlife photographers who have tried endlessly to find that perfect location where roos are known to congregate. Here you go!
  • The endless grassland just along the walk; if you are working with a local fashion designer and looking to get that classic vintage or natural boho look, then this could very well be the place to get that wistful grassland shot.
  • The rolling hills and small lakes found across the nature reserve; littered across the landscape you’ll find several different small lakes which serve the perfect backdrop for a whimsical photoshoot. Don’t forget to make the extra trek to the top of the hills which provide an excellent outlook towards the rest of Canberra.

Don’t forget to bring the deet!

Location

Horse Park Dr, ACT

Black Mountain Peninsula

Image: Who Shot The Phootgrapher

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Commonly driven past on the way into the city, this small inland island just off of Parkes Way and Lady Denman Drive is another subtle gem in Canberra’s crown.

Home to a small number of boat houses and jetties, this small parkland area provides excellent scenes to Blue Gum Point and the shoreline of the Heritage Nursery zone.

If you’re looking for a spot which has a slightly beach and water vibe, don’t look any further!

Look out for

  • The jetty facing out towards Lennox Gardens. If you head to the first car park as you enter the area, you’ll wander down and find a couple of jetties leading out onto the water. You can finally get that shot looking out onto water you’ve always wanted.
  • The small but eye-catching boat houses. Mixing up these humble boat houses with the scenery looking out onto the water is definitely something a lot of photographers should take a look at.
  • The backdrop of Black Mountain. Don’t be afraid to turn around and get the awe-inspiring sight of Black Mountain in your photos. The grandeur of it can certainly add to a scene!

Maybe one of the most overlooked areas on this list.

Location

Garryowen Dr, Acton, ACT

National Museum Of Australia

Image: NO Photography

Image: NO Photography

Canberra really is spoilt for art museums, and the National Museum of Australia is a leading lines dream for anyone with a camera.

Since 2001, the National Museum has been a hub of social documentation of the people, key issues, and events that have shaped Australia into what she is today.

Image: Martin Ollman

Image: Martin Ollman

Designed by Howard Raggatt, the incredible large red structures outside the Museum are unmissable and provide ample opportunities for the minimalist photographer, with a penchant for beautiful shapes framing a subject. This has even enticed renown photographer Scott Robert Lim to perform one of his workshops at the location. Surely an endorsement like this says it all.

Look out for

  • The yellow, red and black colour palette throughout the design. Photographers take note, and if you are a colour palette addict, you’ll have ample opportunity to explore a myriad of opportunities creating a scene to contrast against this deep and eye-catching colours.
  • The huge (huge, HUGE!) arch at the entry to the Museum. Arguably the first thing you’ll notice about the Museum is its incredible arch. Mix this with some geometric style fashion and you’ll have a very interesting photo on your hands, and in your camera.
  • The red alcoves hidden along the outside of the Museum. The Museum seems to provide an incredible amount of spaces to play with colour in, and the many small compartments dotted around the outside of this huge colour beast will give you the perfect opportunity to play with light, shadows, and colour.

There is probably no better location in Canberra when it comes to playing with abstract colour and light ideas.

Location

Lawson Cres, Acton, ACT

Corin Dam

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Another hidden photography spot positioned outside of Canberra in the Namadgi National Park. Opening in 1968, this dam is responsible for providing a large volume of Canberra’s drinking water.

Besides this essential function, the Dam has a small pathway along the top which leads down into a basin in the forest. Down here there is a vast lush forest, full of shores to explore, glades to find, and quarries to search.

Look out for

  • The small glades dotted down in the valley below the dam; natural glades have formed in the areas below the quarry, giving the perfect scene for an ethereal photoshoot.
  • The mini quarries scattered in the valley below the dam; piles of rocks, dirt, and pools have created an almost post apocalyptic setup for any photographer careful enough to brave climbing them.
  • The outlook across the water in the dam; sometimes the wide landscape shots just look incredible. The view across the absolutely gigantic body of water that is Corin Dam is a sight to see, and one which certainly shouldn’t be missed.

Please tread carefully!

Location

Corin Dam, Cotter River, ACT

Booroomba Rocks

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Image: Who Shot The Photographer

Always best to go out with a bang, and nothing can be grander than a huge mountain 1,360 m above sea level.

Get your hiking boots ready for this, as it can be a bit of a trek, especially if you decide to bring your full photographer’s kit along. I think you’ll have to leave the sandbags for the tripod in the car unless you like a challenge! Once you get parked it is about a 30 minute walk up to the top, where sweeping views await you.

Look out for:

  • The journey to Booroomba rocks; whilst not actually at Booroomba rocks, the journey out from Canberra will give you a plethora of opportunities to pull out and explore. See something that catches your eye? Why not have a stop and check it out!
  • The trail leading up to the top; as with so many incredible areas in the Namadgi National Park there is incredible biodiversity and history oozing out of every part of the forest. Don’t be too distracted by the race to the top not to sit and appreciate the more serene scenes (maybe a metaphor for life? Too deep?)
  • The top. Also your footing; when you finally make the trek up to the top you’ll have an incredible view and range to admire and shoot. It’s what you’ve endured to get up there, and the sight is literally awesome. Whether shooting landscape, fashion, or even wildlife, Booroomba rocks has it all.

The best way to finish off an exploration through Canberra.

Location

Namadgi National Park, Honeysuckle (Apollo) Road, ACT

*Please note that a number of these locations are National Parks. Please take special care when traversing and exploring these locations, as they do extremely important work in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation. I also highly encourage providing a donation where possible to the institutes which look after these areas. Leave no trace.

Some locations are also in the Namadgi National Park and will require some basic footwork to explore. Please be safe, careful, and take plenty of water with you!

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James Harber

James is a pom with an accent perfect for mockery. Despite this he is all about positive community growth, especially in the land of photography, which can be a little treacherous to some. James' accolades include living in the jungles of Madagascar for seven months, owning two Greyhounds (best pets ever), loving watermelon ice-cream, and creating Who Shot The Photographer, his venture into the glamorous and exciting world of portraiture and fashion. He has an insane passion for birds, photography education, and capturing great people doing awesome things. In no particular order. He is always happy to chat at [email protected] More about the Author

  • A Stylish Moment

    Such great locations – very helpful post 🙂