Friday, September 26, 2008

Deck Whittington

Aye, Aye, Captain, Everything's Ship-Shape

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Where there's smoke, there's - well, there's a steamship. Because I grew up listening to the sounds of vessels, anything with a hull and a wheelhouse has a certain attraction for me. Hence this decision to write a post about a paddle steamer - of all things - for Sky Watch.

I guess I always try and look outside the square, rather than simply shooting skyscapes for this popular theme. Like the internet, the sky has no international boundaries and that is precisely why I've always told Dot that her choice of theme embraces us all.

Since the very first week of the theme, I've published a variety of unusual subjects, all of which have broadly embraced this great and borderless sky above us. There was Tall Story, about Eureka Tower; The Day That I Never Saw, about the International Date Line; Running Mate, about Edwin Flack, Australia's first Olympic gold medallist at Athens in 1896; Departure From The Norm, shot from inside Kuala Lumpur Intrnational Airport; Running Repairs, about stonemasonry work on a statue of Samuel de Champlain in Quebec City; Action Figures, about modern sculptures in Melbourne; Seeing The Light, which was a skyspace shot taken through my Ray-Bans; Last Splash Of Dusk Colour, about the hottest March fortnight in a century, A Golden Orb, about a hot-air balloon; Climb Every Mountain, taken during a chopper flight above Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon; and there was Sun Spot, about a sulphurous sky at dawn.

So this week, I bring you the SS Keno, regarded as the last steamer to run the gauntlet of the Yukon River. The year 2010 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of her final voyage, from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

I grew up reading about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and the paddle steamers that formed such a strong backdrop to their lives. But I'd never heard the term "stern wheeler" until I was in the Yukon last month.


I didn't even know about the existence of the Keno until I made good use of an hour, late on the evening I arrived in Dawson. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and had precisely an hour to spare, so I took both cameras and headed off along the riverbank, shooting several frames during the brisk walk.

It was 7.30 in the evening and I was just about to turn around and retrace my steps when I noticed the Keno. I took several shots from various angles, incorporating the sky as a backdrop against her towering superstructure.

Then I stood directly in front of her bow and noticed something really interesting. Take a good look at the shot below and tell me if you see it too.


Look to the left of the frame (above) and you'll see the bright sunshine striking the hull. Now look to the right and you'll see everything in shadow.

The strong lilnes and the contrast make an interesting study of light and shade. Also, have a look at the metal bollards above the bow. The one on the left has light playing across its surface, while its companion on the right of the frame seems dull by comparison.


As I began walking abck to my hotel, I noticed the commemorative ship's wheel nearby. Unable to resist the challenge, I simply had to try and frame the wheel, the Keno, the hills that surround Dawson - and the striking sky.

Ya can't have a Sky Watch post without the sky.

For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.

26 comments:

Katney said...

The skies around the world--what a constantly inviting scene! Hmm, I should look through some of my international travel shots again for some Skywatch possibilities. I am definitely not so systematic and metacognitive about it as you are. I sees, I shoots--let the pixels fall where they may.

Sara G said...

Great pictures. Great post!!
Take care.

MigsCFLer said...

Great pics, love the first one

Cheers

http://reginainpictures.blogspot.com

CrazyCath said...

That last shot - the clouds look like steam from the ship. I love the light / shade play. And I love the background to your posts. Thank you.

Carletta said...

Lovely photos!
Living here near the river I have been fasinated with the river travel and the sternwheelers. River traffic is a wonderful past we need to always remember.

Your Sky Watch is on the water and my sky machine is in the air.

imac said...

Great shots David, I guess you have great sea legs too.

The Holleys said...

Great shots, david

leslie said...

I haven't been doing Sky Watch for some time but I might do it again once in a while. I noticed the shadows right away in that photo because I really like that sort of thing. You're lucky you had such great weather when you were in the Yukon. You've been able to share so much with all of us around the world who may never make it there in our lives.

John said...

Impressive captures and a lovely posting, David!

Pretty Life Online said...

Perfect catch..... Great job! Reminds me the saying,,,, We never know how high we are, till we are called to rise and then, if we are true to plan, our statures to touch the sky... Happy Skywatch! Hope you can visit my SWF entry too...

Texas Travelers said...

Great post and Photos.

We love the Yukon and especially the town of Dawson.

Troy and Martha

Photo Cache said...

It seems like a beautiful day to go shooting a boat, eh. Love it's name, keno. Did you get lucky?

Greyscale Territory said...

Thoroughly enjoyed all these pics! All the more so because of your fascinating, informative comments!

babooshka said...

It's the narrative. I come for the images and get distratced by the riveting narrative. Harbour, ships and skies are always winners for me.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

i gre up in Hannibal missouri on the mississippi river and one of the coolest things even now is the paddle boats that go up and down the river there! LOVE these pictures they so take me home!

Kim said...

Great pictures. I love the last one with the wheel, you accomplished your goal.

Louise said...

Cool, as usual. Always interesting and unusual. And always a good description. And oh yeah, I liked the sky!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

I had the great pleasure of being a passenger on The Delta Queen, a stern-wheeled paddle boat which came up the Arkansas River to Little Rock several years ago. It was quite an experience. Too bad the Keno is no longer in business. Wonderful photos and narrative, as usual.

katherine. said...

love the one from the front of the bow.

Powell River Books said...

Good "out of the box" choice. There is a strong relationship between sky, water and light. You captured all of them well. I invite you to come see my post about cirrus clouds. - Margy

marcia@joyismygoal said...

Ahoy mate fun post David

SandyCarlson said...

I love that, David. Thanks for taking me to another time and place with such beautiful images.

Daryl said...

What a clever post ... someone should nominate it for POTD!

:-Daryl

Luiz Santilli Jr said...

Fantastic shots!
Wordless all photos!

Luiz

Catherine said...

Beautiful captures~fantastic post!
Happy sky~watching! Love the first & last!
Cat

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

I so enjoy learning from you and viewing the ordinary through your camera lens where it becomes something akin to extraordinary!