Rally to Save Our Sirius

“Save our Sirius,” said the man sitting on the pavement not more than three metres away from Sirius, the social housing icon of Brutalist architecture in Sydney’s historic The Rocks. “Why do they want to save a pub?” 

The Sirius building is anything but a pub, as my first story about it illustrates, a fact that can be easily determined by those who care to glance upwards from their comfy perches.

More than a thousand citizens of all ages, who clearly do know what Sirius is and stands for, took part in a rally on September 17 to protest the imminent eviction of the last remaining longterm residents of Sirius and the planned sale and destruction of their homes.

People from all walks of life took part, including present and past residents of Sirius, Dawes Point and Millers Point, architect Tao Gofers who designed Sirius in the 1970s, local and state politicians, as well as architecture enthusiast and radio personality Tim Ross.

Most importantly from an historical persecutive, legendary 1970s Green Bans unionist Jack Mundey participated, supported by members of the CFMEU and MUA, reminders of a time when the struggle to preserve Australia’s history and heritage took place in the streets of inner city Sydney as well as suburbs like Hunters Hill.

Tech Notes:

The photographs in this story were made with two complementary camera systems, one in Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format and the other APS-C. My Fujifilm X-Pro2 did sterling duty in its OVF rangefinder camera mode and I used my Panasonic Lumix GX8 as if it were a square format Twin-Lens Reflex (TLR) camera with a magnified waist-level finder.

Another effective small, portable two-camera kit might have been an X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens for medium wide shots and an X-T2 with Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 R for closer shots and portraits. For an even lighter but versatile one-camera set-up, an X-T2 with Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR or an X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens would have proven highly effective.

During the height of the analog era, I used a collection of cameras of various film formats and types, from 8″x10″ studio sheet film cameras through 4″x5″ field and stand view cameras using Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film and variable format 120 film holders, Plaubel Makina, Mamiya and Fuji rangefinder cameras using 120 format film, and Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras. I rarely relied on 35mm SLRs though I kept one or two in the camera closet.

That wide choice meant I could carefully match my means of production to the images and emotions I wanted to create. I learned that portrait subjects respond very differently to being photographed with a hand-made wood-and-brass sheet film camera compared with how they behave when in front of a 6cm x 9cm Texas Leica.

Digital photography has been dominated by DSLRs, but it has been pleasing to see other camera types entering the market in recent years. One of the most exciting developments was today’s announcement of the Fujifilm GFX 50S.

My way of seeing and photographing was intimately shaped by using large format, medium format and Leica cameras as appropriate and it is wonderful seeing a camera system with elements of the best of each coming into the world.

All images were shot as raw digital negatives and processed with Capture One Pro 9, using  presets from Image Alchemist and film simulation styles from Capture One Film Styles collection, mostly the Acros style.