Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
There’s a great Australian expression that might not be in common use around the world, but it sums up this photograph rather aptly. The expression is simply the abbreviation "NQR" - which denotes the phrase "not quite right".
Sometimes, though, an image that doesn’t quite live up to expectations produces an entirely different effect - and I reckon this shot falls into that category.
As some of you might remember, I was in Dawson City three weeks ago, at the invitation of Yukon Tourism. After watching the evening’s entertainment at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, I published an interesting series of the dancers at Diamond Jubilation and this image was shot the same night.
I had already been told that while cameras were allowed at Gertie’s, video footage was not permitted during the show. Nonetheless, when I walked into the place, I double-checked at the front counter and was given the thumbs-up. Because I prefer to shoot without a flash, I had to work the options to try and get the best results.
Having worked with two cameras right through my week in the Yukon, that evening I left the Pentax K200D with the 300mm lens in my hotel room and opted for my Pentax K100D with the 18-125 Sigma lens. The lighting in Gertie’s is interesting - low enough to be unobtrusive yet not bright enough to shoot long range with ease if you choose not to use a flash.
I watched people using the slot machines along the wall that faces the side street and the colours and shapes caught my eye. There was the immediate compulsion to take a shot that showed the players in silhouette, almost like shadow puppets, with the richly textured background comprising bright colours and the arches above each machine.
I only shot one frame, because the cabaret was about to begin, but I wish I’d taken two or three more shots. In retrospect, I’d like to know what you think. Should I have focused directly on the machines, leaving the players out of focus? If you have the time to leave a comment, let me know what you think.
And for all those who are wondering, I’m not a gambling man. I wouldn’t know which direction a horse race is run, and I would be more at home using an automated train ticket machine than a slot machine. Besides, photography is far more fun.
And even if an experimental shot like this is NQR, there’s only one solution. I’ll have to travel thousands of kilometers back to Dawson City with my cameras, to get the shot right next time. Would I do that? Yup, I’d be delighted to.