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.