Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bridge The Gap

X Is For X-Factor


Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


What I really like about the expression ``the X-Factor’’ is that it is completely undefinable. It is something that defies our attempts to categorise everything around us. Yet it is something we clarify as being the difference between something pedestrian and something memorable.

I’ve tried to devote this week’s theme to explaining this ephemeral concept. Last week, I was walking across the Sandridge Rail Bridge here in Melbourne, which dates back to the late 1800s. I was just standing there and running my hand across the rivets and wondering about the men who painstakingly put them in place while the bridge was being built.


I shot the first image to try and capture the fact that these rivets were put in place by hand, not by robots but by flesh-and-blood builders who laboured under Melbourne’s fickle weather.

I could see that while most of the rivets were in a precise military-like pattern, an occasional one was slightly out of alignment, as you'll see in the second shot (above).

I also liked the fact that the weak sunlight in this frame gave me a definable shadow - hey, when was the last time you got an artistic kick out of photographing rivets and their shadows?

I was also intrigued by the early-afternoon light patterns on the painted metal. Then I continued walking along the bridge and the light changed dramatically, with the sun coming out from behind cloud cover.

Immediately, the metal took on a new sheen, like polished chrome.

Just before I hit the shutter, a tourist with a camera walked into my line of vision. Instead of swinging my camera away from him, I moved it fractionally towards him, to include him in the frame. His appearance gives the shot a new perspective and his yellow jumper puts a splash of colour into my frame.

Along with the darker daubs of colour on the top right-hand corner, I also liked the fact that the rivets disappeared into the distance like an array of shimmering silver globules.

I guess each angle tells a different story, but I hope you were riveted. I'd really appreciate it if you could tell me which of the three shots, in your opinion, has the X-Factor.

For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

29 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

Great post, David. Places like the one you describe have a way of collapsing time into the present. Museums are so important; they help us raise big questions. These photos are gorgeous.

Mima said...

For me I much prefer the mystery and dappled shadowing of the first shot. It is difficult to tell what it is, yet it is really gripping to look at.

Sandi McBride said...

It just goes to show that you David are a magician...you can take any shot of any object and turn it into an object of interest, and object of art, even...well done
Sandi

Charles Gramlich said...

The rivets are certainly neat. The shadows are great. So well defined.

quilly said...

The first photo captured and held my attention, as in: What the ...? But the second photo is the one I kept coming back to. I love the shadows and how they change as the rivets fade into the distance.

I liked the third shot least of all, though as you said,the person in the yellow coat was a point of interest -- pretty much the only point my eye would focus on, my gaze kept riding the silver beam to that spot and staying.

esnorway said...

nice x the last i think has the x werry good pics you have

Max-e said...

Hi David, I like the imaginative way you so often approach your subject. You have to admire those workers. I think I would have started to die of boredom after putting in the second or third rivet.
BTW thanks for the rcognition you gave on omy jacaranda post.
Have great day - we going to bed over over here

willow said...

Yes, the bit of yellow from the tourist's "jumper" as you call them over there, is nice in the background.

John said...

Lovely shot and very good use of DOF, David. The first shot has the X-faktor. Great post.

polona said...

each of these shots is unique and i can't really decide which i prefer...

Denise said...

David, being married to an engineer I know what a rivetting post this is! LOL!

Dxxx

Dan Mega said...

Good stuff. I actually had the chance to use a 'rivet-gun' to shoot these into the steel. It made me feel powerful.

Granny Smith said...

Who else could make magic out of bridge rivets (or any rivets, for that matter). I think I slightly prefer the first picture, maybe because it is interesting and beautiful without being immediately recognizable.

starnitesky said...

I like the first photo the DOF is perfect. Interesting thought on whether they were put there by hand or machine.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Very cool idea for X, David!

Country Clippings
http://moreofme24.blogspot.com

CrazyCath said...

Without a doubt David, it's the second one which has the X factor, the human touch, so obvious from the angle. So... imperfect but also strikingly perfect, great workmanship, so... human.

Loved this post and how you dealt with X. I thought of X factor but only got as far as the programme, and of course, have no shots of my own of the logo. So I abandoned that one.
Pop over and see what I went with... (the photography is not the best though this time.)

Kelly said...

I like these! Nice work!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Hey, David,
Thanks for looking at my Theme Day shot, but my ABC Wednesday shot is at

Country Clippings
http://moreofme24.blogspot.com

Diana said...

Great X!!

Dragonstar said...

The second one has the "X-factor" for me. I love the domes and their shadows. Very nice indeed.

Nessa said...

These shots make me think of those candies that are dots of colored sugar on paper.

Texas Travelers said...

It's Wednesday....
You've made a play.
"X" marks the spot,
And I like yours a lot,
It's really fine....
Come visit mine,

Troy (author of bad verse)
Martha (better half)

Mental P Mama said...

Great post! Love the X factor.

reader Wil said...

It's clever indeed to take a couple of photos and feel the historical importance of the subjects. The first time I heard the word X-factor was when I was watching a programme called"Idols".
One of the contestants was absolutely tone-deaf and his singing was pathetic. The jury told him, among other things, that he hadn't got the X-factor. Great, but he didn't know what it meant.
In two weeks I am going to see if my family in Australia have the X-factor. I think they have!! I am sure ,for me they have. I am looking forward to seeing them.

RuneE said...

I suppose most people would say it was the one with the tourist. However, to me it is the first one: on one hand it reminds me of the game called Chinese Chequers, on the other hand, of dispersed mercury globules.

Maybe it is just me.

Daryl said...

eXtremely interesting rivets AND eXplanation of the X Factor ... is he related to MaX?

:-Daryl

becky voyles said...

Another great original post, David.
Ironic that my word verification had an x in it!

leslie said...

Another intriguing entry for ABC Wednesday. The letter X was, I'm sure for most, a difficult one. You make it look easy, though, with your artistic perspective. I like the first shot simply because it makes one wonder what it is and how it relates to the letter X. Great job as usual.

AMDC said...

Nice pic! I just joined sky watch.