Saturday, March 08, 2008

Strap Poker

Hang In There, Buddy

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This shot was taken in Singapore, during my brief 36-hour stopover there in mid-December. I was in a fairly crowded carriage at lunchtime and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) was as clean and as efficient as I remembered it from previous visits. Unlike the suburban trains here in Melbourne, the straps run down the middle of each carriage - and I was fascinated by their symmetry.

To get this shot, I braced myself to ensure I didn't sway or (more embarrassingly) fall over on my butt. It was quite a challenge to frame this while the train was moving at high speed, but that's what photography is all about, isn't it?

In order to compose a shot that didn't have dozens of heads, shoulders and hands on straps, I went long on the lens, using a focal length of 125mm to give me the best frame. I shot this at 1/45th of a second, F5.6 and ISO 800. This allowed me to stay faithful to the conditions inside the carriage, while capturing the black-and-green LCD display, the reflections on the metal and the glow of the recessed lighting along the sides.

You could say I was very lucky with this shot, too. Because I'm well over six foot, I was able to shoot above the heads of most passengers - which is why you only see the side of one person's head on the bottom left-hand corner. It looks like an empty carriage, but if I were six inches shorter, the photograph would have been a meld of heads and limbs and metal and plastic - and would not have been such a clean image.

Yes, I'm thankful for my genes.

Looking for my "Photo Hunt: Different"? It's the next one down!


Dragonstar said...

You work hard for your shots David, but it's always worth it!

imac said...

No chance for a 5ft 8in chap then, still I guess mine would have been a HEAD in front of

CrazyCath said...

As always, a great shot of something everyday. As Maggie May said previously, I bet you could make a bowl of peas look interesting! Now there's a challenge for you... ;0)

Vienna for Beginners said...

Quite a daredevil photo, I'd say!
How did you manage to have all passengers release theirs hands simultaneously? ;-)

Janice Thomson said...

It's wonderful that what most people take for granted can be a photographer's dream and using his/her skills they can bring the most mundane and its beauty to our attention. Excellent shot David.

SandyCarlson said...

The trouble paid off, David. That's a wonderful shot. There are so many straps. Those trains must become very crowded.

Great photo.

Kimberly said...

Such a compelling shot. There's something rather sad about it though, from my perspective. I can't quite put my finger on why. Perhaps the emptiness. And yet, I found myself staring at it for a bit, drinking it in. Nicely done.

Shrinky said...

I'm laughing as I try to visualise you framing this. Unlike me, you have no shame when it comes to capturing a shot. Don't you ever feel self-concious when you take these things in front of an audience? I often see something I simply haven't the guts to stand up and take, simply because I know everyone will be looking. I so wish I had your courage!

ps. A great shot, as ever.

Daryl E said...

Much smarter than the NY MTA where there are no straps! Just long metal poles on either side above the seats and in the center aisle where almost no one stands because they all MUST stand in the doorways, are metal poles to hold on to as well or to pole dance if you are a two yr old (like my friend's daughter did the other day) or an inebriated adult..

jillie said...

LOL...yeah, I am sure it would have lost it's effect with the backs of the heads. Who knows! Yeah, the height runs in my family too. But I am the only one UNDER 6 ft tall. My other brother is 6'8"! I guess I take after the grannies. But I can't complain at 5'8". I still want to be 6ft when I grow!!

Enjoy the wknd ;o)

Charles Gramlich said...

Odd how such mundane shots in reality can take on the character of art.

lynn said...

So you get a whole different view all the way up there! My first thought is that you must have gone flying through not hanging on. Great shot.

Jamie Dawn said...

My daughter is the photographer in our family.
You got a nice shot there for this post.
Thanks so much for your visit to my blog.
It looks like some others came to visit me as a result of you, so thanks for that too.
I'm heading out the door right this moment to go to lunch with my daughter. I will stop by here again.
Feel free to visit my daughter's flickr pictures at:
She also has her own photography website at:
I'll have her come look at your work here.
Also congrats on your book! What a wonderful success!!!!

Tammy said...

I didn't have a clue what the photo was of until I read the post. I guess I need to start taking the bus more often. LOL

Mima said...

David, when I first looked at the photo I didn't know what it was, but loved it. I made myself wait until I had worked it out before I read the post!! I did get there though. I do love these unusual angle shots that you get.

Celebration of Life said...

Your photography amazes me!

Pato & Pearl said...

gosh lucky you to be able to capture this shop..From this perspective i couldnt even recognized it was in our MRT!!!!

these days, the train's getting more and more packed!