Saturday, December 13, 2008

Playing Favourites

Image Conscious (And The Story Behind Each Shot)


Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Since this week's Photo Hunt theme is "Favourites", I've tried to select three of my most cherished images, not just for what they depict in colour and form, but for the story that goes with each shot.

2006. Calcutta, India

This was taken on a hot, sticky, intensely humid night during a very brief and unexpected visit to the city where I was born. It was in the middle of the Pujas, the peak Hindu festival season and it was also the night before Id, the major Muslim festival.

At this street bazaar behind the New Market, the crowds were almost impenetrable. There was no threat, no danger, for these were only shoppers in holiday mood. This was no street for someone in a hurry. The car inched along until I decided the best thing was to go on foot in search of some photographs.

I was dripping perspiration when I finally saw a stall selling colourful bangles. I had taken half a dozen frames when I saw this display – and immediately I knew I had a shot to treasure, if only I could get it right.

I steadied myself against the passing crowd. I chose my settings carefully in the darkness, to make the best use of the single naked bulb above the display. And, yes, I ignored the squadron of little green Diwali flies that were biting my scalp.


2007. Yarra River, Melbourne

The sun was coming up over the Melbourne Cricket Ground as I walked across Princes Bridge. It was not a frosty morning, but still one of those cold Melbourne dawns – and the blowtorch of golden light reflected on the Yarra River was a breathtaking sight.

As always, there were rowers and kayakers on the river and I could see that one was heading on a course that would run parallel to the pooling light. I waited patiently, thankful for the 18-125mm lens that enabled me to frame exactly what I wanted.

I didn’t wait until the low keel was in the middle of the frame. I understand just how powerful an asymmetrical composition can be in terms of emphasis and I wanted the hull and the oars off-centre, so that the liquid gold would be the main focal point and the eye would notice the rower as a value-added bonus to the composition.


2007. Dandenong Road, Melbourne

There are winter fogs in Melbourne, but this was one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. This was shot at about 5am as I drove down Dandenong Road towards the city.

For all the world, it looked as if someone had smeared orange jelly across my windscreen. I pulled over, put my hazard lights on and because there was no traffic at all I was able to take some interesting semi-ghostly shots looking straight down the road.

But I needed some other object or device, to use as a counterpoint to the striking colour of the fog. I walked down the broad median strip that doubles as the tram tracks – and found my lodestone there. Not only was there a tall palm tree to use in silhouette, there was also a tram shelter. Because of its construction, it not only provided a slender silhouette, but gave me a Shrek-like sheen through the glass panels as well.

The quality of the street lights in the thick fog evoked an image of Dickensian London and it also gave me an interesting reflection across the metal of the tram shelter. I guess this is one of those images that could have been shot in any century, in any city.

There is a certain timeless quality to it and you almost expect to see Bill Sykes and Fagin emerging from the orange gloom.

Visit TNChick, creator of Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "Favourite".

31 comments:

ArtSparker said...

I like the last shot quite a bit. It quite vividly recalls Miyazaki films to me, in particular the train ride out to the country in "Spirited Away" and the wait for the Catbus in the rain in "My Neighbor Totoro".

And the text reminds me that I haven't picked blackberries for awhile...because they are a small self-imposed quest requiring effort, risk and the possibility only of having jewels fall into your container.

ciara said...

the photo of the bangles is definitely my fave. love the colors & subject matter. not to mention i would TOTALLY wear those bangles. LOVE them hehe :)

The Muse said...

Oh the last shot...definitely speaks to me..I hear a prose of intrigue and mystery!

Very NICE!

Cuckoo said...

All the three shots are wonderful in their own way.
Bangles ?? My favourites. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard of yellow fogs, but this is an orange one.

Daryl said...

Baubles, bangles and brilliant photos ... all

:-Daryl

Lee said...

Beautiful images, David. The stories about what made them favorites are even better. My favorite is the bangle one but I liked them all.

Cheers!

French Fancy said...

You can almost hear the jangle of the bangles(I bet you could get a good poem going here)

Great shots, David

Michelle said...

As always, beautiful photographs.

I have always wanted to visit India. I love their culture. One of these days!

Mushy said...

Always bedazzled by your color shots!

Craig Glenn said...

David,

I love the stories in your photographs. I like to look at them and wonder before I read your thoughts.

The last is my favorite. I could imagine the private detective sitting in his car with the window rolled down. He stared intently into the fog at the bus stop, knowing that this was the exact spot the killer had stalked his last victim. He was starting to understand him, feel him, get into his head, embrace him in some ways….

LOL, sorry, didn’t mean to spin your photo, but this is what goes on in my head…. I know, scary place, best to stay out!

Craig

CrazyCath said...

These are such brilliant shots and I can see why they are favourites - as well as the memories attached to them which is clear from the way you write.

I love the sunrise across the river and how it is captured off centre, and that last one - Victorian England without a doubt. Or a 23rd century story. A really excellent capture in circumstances that are unlikely to come again in that combination.

Helena said...

Beautiful photo's. Love the one on the water.

How are you?
My sister says it's been so hot in Tamworth she hasn't been able to sleep!


Bob says hi.

The Texican said...

Very good shots, and the prose made them jump off the page. I am still scratching my scalp after the green Dawali flies bit me. Great job. Pappy

imbeingheldhostage said...

THOSE are gorgeous! I loved the orange jelly windscreen-like photo the best, but was so impressed with the effort behind the others. I just point and click...which is why you're professional and I'm not ;-)

Dr.John said...

I liked all three shots and the explanations but liked the last one best. It has a sort of eerie quality to it.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

Dandenong looks like a invitation for Dr. Jekyl and Hyde

Bee said...

Those photographs are truly arresting. It was also a nice touch for you to give us some background on them and bit of the photographer's eye and thought process.

Anna said...

Oh David these are beautiful, and when I saw first picture I immediately started to think about the India....the last photo is so mysterious....excellent story behind. Anna :)

Alyson (New England Living) said...

This was such a joy to read, not mention to look at. Beautiful photographs and I was mesmorized by the stories.

Sandi McBride said...

All three shots (and their stories) are mesmerizing...but the bangles...I'll have 20 please...10 for each arm...
Sandi

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Your photos stopped me in my tracks . . . but then your prose sent my imagination soaring. Such splendid trickles of thought and yearning woven through each description! Pure magic. I thank you for inviting me on a magic carpet ride as you "played favourites."

Gretchen said...

Just beautiful! The first one is my favorite of the series. So many places I'd love to visit.

Maggie May said...

I like the way you have gone from the sizzling heat of India, going through to cold on the river, to the foggy day in Australia!
Your description in India makes me feel so hot and the earring colours give out this heat.
The picture of the water...... I am cooling down! Though there is some warmth in that light on the water.
The fog and I am mentally wrapping up into warmer clothes! Quite a spooky picture.
I like the first and the last best, but they are all very good because not only are the photos brilliant, but they create a mood for the viewer!

jams o donnell said...

They are all superb photos. I can see why you cherish them.

Alice said...

FABULOUS!!

Alice at: I Was Born2Cree8

Colin Campbell said...

Lovely shots as always David.

jdeq said...

Beautiful shots! The one of he bracelets is my favourite I love the colours and details.

i beati said...

must be so difficult to select a favorite - all splendid

Hilary said...

Three gorgeous shots. The bangles dazzle me but I love the last one best. There's something about a foggy night that creates an immediate mood. Beautiful.

katherine. said...

it is always special when a photograph brings back a cherished memory...

these were great!