9 Best Photo Spots in Murray Bridge and Surrounding Towns

Nestled on the picturesque banks of the Murray River, Murray Bridge and its surrounding towns beckon photographers with a blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. Whether you’re visiting for a day or staying a while, there’s plenty to see, do, and explore in this captivating region. From stunning river views to unique cultural landmarks, here are nine must-visit spots and tips that promise to elevate your photography game:

1. The Bridge spanning the Murray River
The Murray Bridge, especially during the New Year’s Eve fireworks, is a spectacular sight. The bridge illuminated against the night sky, with vibrant fireworks reflecting off the river, offers a breathtaking scene perfect for long-exposure shots. This iconic event attracts photographers aiming to capture the dazzling display and the festive atmosphere. Click here to see some examples of the event. Photo credit Flying Free

Tips for fireworks photography:
• Know your timings and arrive early.
• Consider the wind direction to avoid smoke in your shots.
• Take a few test shots at the beginning to fine-tune your settings.
• Include foreground elements to add depth to your shots.
• A wide-angle lens (18-35mm) is ideal for capturing the entire scene. A zoom lens can be useful for closer shots.
• Use manual focus and prefocus on a distant point where the fireworks will be, so you’re ready when the show begins.
• Stability is key, so a tripod is essential.
• Use a timer or remote trigger to avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter button.
• Try a shutter speed around one minute to capture the fireworks’ trails.
• Start with an aperture of f/11 to ensure a good depth of field and sharpness.
• Keep your ISO low, around 100-200, to reduce noise in the image.

2. Bridgeport Hotel, a new landmark in town
On a winter’s morning, the Bridgeport Hotel shrouded in fog or a dramatic with its coloured lights creates an ethereal and surreal image (as captured by Paul Lloyd & Tyler Barker). The hotel, a modern landmark in Murray Bridge, looks particularly mystical when the fog rolls in, blending with the soft glow of its exterior lighting. This setting is ideal for atmospheric photography that highlights the contrast between the man-made structure and nature’s ephemeral beauty.

Tips for capturing a foggy morning:
• Check the weather forecasts for fog.
• A wide-angle lens can capture the building and surrounding fog. A telephoto lens can isolate details within the fog.
• A tripod ensures stability, especially in low light conditions often found in foggy mornings.
• Autofocus can struggle in foggy conditions, so switch to manual focus to ensure your subject is sharp.
• Capture images in RAW format to retain more detail.
• Keep your ISO low (around 100-200) to reduce noise in your photos, as foggy conditions often require longer exposures.
• Use a small aperture (high f-stop number like f/8 to f/11) to ensure a greater depth of field, keeping more of the building in focus.
• Fog can fool your camera’s metering system, so you might need to adjust the exposure compensation to avoid underexposed or overexposed images.
• Add interest to your composition by including foreground elements like trees.
• Utilise leading lines such as roads, paths, or fences to draw the viewer’s eye towards the building.
• Use the fog to create dramatic silhouettes of buildings against the misty background.
• Protect your gear from moisture. Use lens hoods, rain covers, and keep a microfiber cloth handy to wipe off any condensation.

3. Aerial Shots of the Murray River
For stunning overhead shots, take to the skies with a drone to capture the winding course of the Murray River. The aerial perspective showcases the river’s meandering paths, lush riverbanks, and surrounding farmlands, providing a comprehensive view of the region’s natural beauty. Early morning or late afternoon flights yield the best lighting conditions for these expansive landscapes. Photo credit Chris Handler

Tips for drone aerial shooting:
• Check weather conditions. Avoid windy days and heavy rain.
• Keep track of your battery life and carry extra batteries.
• Shoot in the highest resolution available and use RAW format for more flexibility in post-processing.
• Use a fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur. Adjust ISO to maintain image quality, keeping it as low as possible to reduce noise.
• Set the aperture to a mid-range value (f/5.6 – f/8) for a sharp image.
• Shoot during the golden hour (early morning or late afternoon) for soft, warm light and long shadows that add depth.
• Avoid shooting during midday when the light is harsh and shadows are minimal unless you are specifically looking for that effect.
• Always follow local drone regulations and no-fly zones. Check if you need any permits.

4. Dark Sky Night Reserve
Located near the River Murray, the Dark Sky Night Reserve offers a clear view of the night sky free from light pollution. This spot is perfect for astrophotography enthusiasts looking to capture the Milky Way, constellations, and even meteor showers. The reserve’s pristine conditions make it a prime location for capturing the celestial wonders in all their glory. Head over to Juggle House Experiences to book a guided tour to book. Photo credit Benjamin Goode and Dark Eyes Open.

Dark Skys photography
Tips on taking night sky photography:
• Use weather apps to check for cloud cover and consider using a star tracker to follow the motion of the stars, allowing for longer exposures without trails.
• A wide-angle lens (14-24mm) with a large aperture (f/2.8 or lower) is ideal for capturing more of the sky.
• A sturdy tripod is crucial to keep your camera stable during long exposures.
• Use a timer or remote trigger to avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter button.
• Switch to manual mode to have full control over your settings.
• Set your aperture to the widest setting (lowest f-number) to allow maximum light.
• Start with a shutter speed between 15 to 30 seconds.
• Begin with an ISO setting of 1600 to 3200. Adjust as needed to balance brightness and noise.
• Manually focus to infinity. Use live view and zoom in on a bright star to fine-tune your focus.
• For expansive views of the night sky, consider shooting multiple images and stitching them together in post-processing.

5. Painted and Unpainted Silos at Sunrise
The silos in the Murray Bridge region, both painted and unpainted, make for compelling subjects, especially at sunrise. The golden hour light enhances the textures and colours of these towering structures, turning them into dramatic focal points against the rural backdrop. These silos, often adorned with murals, tell stories of the local community and are a testament to rural artistry. Photo of Karoonda Silos and Photo credit Chris Handler Monarto Silos.
Painted and Unpainted Solos
Tips for photographing Silos
• Experiment with different angles—shoot from ground level, from a distance or get closer to emphasise details.
• Use a mid-range aperture (f/8 – f/11) for sharpness throughout the image.
• Adjust your shutter speed based on lighting conditions. Use a tripod if needed to avoid camera shake during longer exposures.
• Keep ISO as low as possible to reduce noise and maintain image quality.
• Capture close-up shots of interesting details in the artwork, such as textures, brushstrokes or specific elements.
• Incorporate elements that show the scale of the silo, such as people or vehicles

6. Historical Paddle Steamers and Boats
The Murray River is home to historical paddle steamers and boats that offer a glimpse into the past. The Proud Mary, PS Marion, PS Murray Princess and the PS Captain Proud are prime examples, often seen cruising the river. Capturing these vessels, whether docked or in motion, provides a nostalgic look at the river’s rich history. These boats make for excellent subjects against the backdrop of the serene river and vibrant sunsets. Photo credit Dave Hartley.

Tips for photographing paddle steamers or boats
• Check the schedule of paddle steamers and boats to capture them at the right time.
• Shoot during the golden hour (early morning or late afternoon) for soft, warm lighting that enhances the details and colours of the boats.
• Overcast weather can provide even lighting and reduce harsh shadows, making it easier to capture details.
• Use the rule of thirds to place the boat off-centre, creating a more balanced and engaging composition.
• Include elements like water reflections, nearby structures or landscape features to add depth and context.
• Use a faster shutter speed (1/500 or higher) to freeze motion, especially if the boat is moving. For capturing smooth water motion, use a slower shutter speed with a tripod.
• A mid-range aperture (f/8 – f/11) ensures a good depth of field, keeping the boat and surrounding elements in focus.
• Shoot from a low angle to emphasise the size and grandeur.

7. Monarto Safari Park
Monarto Safari Park is an essential stop for any wildlife photographer. The park’s open-range setting allows for naturalistic shots of animals like giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs in expansive landscapes. The park’s design ensures that photographers can capture the animals in settings that closely resemble their natural habitats, adding authenticity to the photos. Photo of feeding the giraffes at Monarto Safari Park.

Tips for taking photographs at Monarto Safari Park
• Learn about the layout of Monarto Safari Park, feeding times and any special exhibits or events to plan the shots.
• Early morning or late afternoon is ideal as animals are usually more active and the lighting is softer.
• A telephoto lens (70-200mm or longer) is essential for capturing distant subjects. A wide-angle lens can be useful for environment shots.
• Use a fast shutter speed (1/500 or higher) to freeze motion, especially for active animals.
• A wide aperture (f/2.8 – f/5.6) helps to blur the background, making the animal stand out.
• Get down to the animal’s eye level for a more intimate and engaging perspective.
• For the feeding the lions experience (Lions 360) use a wide aperture to blur out the fence or mesh. Position the lens as close to the barrier as possible to make it less noticeable.
• Avoid actions that could stress or disturb the animals. Flash can startle animals. Use natural light or adjust camera settings for low light.

8. Lavender Federation Trail
Starting at Sturt Reserve, the Lavender Federation Trail offers diverse landscapes, from historic buildings to rugged gorges and lush wetlands. This trail is perfect for photographers looking to capture varied scenery within a single hike. The trail’s proximity to the Monarto Safari Park also means you might spot exotic animals, adding an unexpected element to your landscape shots. Photo credit PJ Bell

Tips for photographing the Lavender Federation Trail
• Shoot during the golden hour (early morning or late afternoon) for soft, warm light that enhances the colours of the lavender and the landscape.
• Cloudy days can provide even lighting without harsh shadows, making it easier to capture details.
• Place the lavender fields or key elements off-centre to create a balanced composition.
• Include elements like stones, fences or plants in the foreground to add depth and context to your photos.
• Get low to the ground to emphasise the lavender and create a more immersive perspective.
• Get close to the lavender to capture detailed shots of the flowers, focusing on the textures and patterns.
• Use a mid-range aperture (f/8 – f/11) for landscapes to ensure a good depth of field. For close-ups, use a wider aperture (f/2.8 – f/5.6) to create a blurred background.
• Use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion if there is wind. For intentional blur, like moving plants, use a slower shutter speed.
• Bring a variety of lenses, including a wide-angle for landscapes and a macro for close-up shots.
• Consider using a polarising filter to reduce glare and enhance colours, especially in bright sunlight.

9. Old Churches and Buildings in the Area
The Murray Bridge region is dotted with historic churches and buildings that make for striking photographic subjects. Old Tailem Town, a heritage village with over 100 preserved buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, can provide stunning historical photography. Additionally, the region’s old stone churches, with their Gothic architecture and intricate details, offer timeless scenes that highlight the area’s cultural heritage. Photo credit Dave Hartley

Tips for photographing old churches and buildings
• Research the history and architectural style of the building to understand its key features and significance.
• Use the natural symmetry and lines of the architecture to create a balanced composition.
• Shoot during the golden hour for warm, soft light that enhances textures and colours.
• For a dramatic effect shoot the building at twilight, when the sky has a deep blue hue and lights start to come on.
• When shooting inside, take advantage of natural light from windows. Long exposures can help capture the ambiance in low light.
• Use a wide-angle lens to capture the grandeur and entirety of the building.
• Use a smaller aperture (f/8 – f/16) to ensure a deep depth of field, keeping both the foreground and background in focus.
• Adjust the shutter speed based on lighting conditions. Use a tripod for longer exposures to avoid camera shake.
• Avoid cluttered or distracting backgrounds that take attention away from the main subject.
• Respect people’s privacy and follow trespassing rules. Always obtain permission before photographing, especially in places of worship.

Capturing the Moment
As you capture breathtaking moments in Murray Bridge and its surrounds, remember that every click of the shutter preserves a memory. Whether you’re snapping selfies with friendly locals, framing the majestic river at sunset, or capturing the vibrant colours of a local festival, each photo tells a story. Share these moments with loved ones and friends, on social media or in a photo album. Tag the local businesses and landmarks that make this region special, ensuring your memories become part of the fabric of Murray Bridge. Embrace the joy of photography in this stunning locale, where every shot is a testament to the beauty that surrounds us. Pack your camera and venture forth – your next unforgettable shot awaits!