Wednesday, December 31, 2008

X Is For X-Factor

It's So Easy To Describe, But So Difficult To Attain

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

As a photographer and a writer, it's not every day of your life that you come across an image that produces a "look at me now" photograph, just as writing a memorable blog post or newspaper article can be highly elusive.

But therein lies the joy. Were they easy, then they would be far too commonplace. And that is precisely why a great photograph or a great piece of writing is one that you tend to remember, or that you keep in a special place, to bring out and share with people who matter.

All it takes is the ability to look at something differently, or the ability to present it differently. That is where The Big Difference lies.

I work on the most simple ground rule of all. If something catches my attention, I photograph it. Very often, someone will ask me why on earth I'm photographing something - but when I show them the image on the LCD screen of my camera, they "see" the beauty through my eyes.

And, my friends, therein lies the reward. Every time I take a photograph, I am inviting you into my own personal world, to share my viewpoint and to look directly at the sight I've captured, from the exact angle I've captured it. You see, in the image, precisely what I see through the viewfinder of my camera.

A few days ago, we were in the Bourke Street Mall here in Melbourne to check out the Myer Christmas windows. Above us, the entire street was covered by alternating cables of miniature lights and silver stars. As you can see by the shot below, it was a striking sight against the azure-blue of the darkening sky.

But the first two shots on this post were taken from a slightly different vantage point, with the focus deliberately blurred. In the first of the four shots, the vertical frame shows three street lights in the guise of golden globules. In the second of the four shots, the horizontal frame shows the same intriguing shimmer, with only a solitary street lamp looking like a mysterious golden pearl.

This final shot (above) was taken as we were leaving. In order to give you an idea of just how far the lights stretched down the street, I actually stood in the middle of Bourke Street, astride the tram tracks to hit the trigger very quickly before moving to safer ground.

And now, my final question for all of you - please let me know which of the four shots gets your vote.

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


Craig Glenn said...

By far the last picture with the mysterious red light gets my vote. If you click and enlarge the red light takes a star appearance. If I had to guess I would say it is a traffic light. If I guessed with my imagination I would say it is a warning to foreign travelers to stay away from the causeway, which brings me to my next focal point… what is a causeway?


Katney said...

I like it as a series, as each one completes the one before.

RuneE said...

A difficult question - they all have there separate values. I first thought of no.4 since it has great depth and a nice red dot but since the red dot "should" in my opinion have been elsewhere, I go for no. 3 where the lamp is just right. (yes, I may be to strict woth the "rules"...)

However - I enjoyed your explanation of the X-factor. On the Dot!!

Fletch said...
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Fletch said...

For me it is easily #1.

As you say, it has that "look at me now, look at me again" quality for which you've become rightly 'famous'.

Thanks for letting us into your 'minds-eye' for a few moments.

P.S. The others are pretty darned good as well!

Moannie said...

I thought No.1, because it made me think. No.4 is spectacular and must have been a sight to me, but the first has mystery.

2sweetnsaxy said...

Hmmm... I think I like the first one. It shows how you can take something and create your own art in how you capture it.

Lee said...

I'm torn between numbers one and four.

One has those lovely "pearls" of colored light you described and the miniature white lights do the same circle thing and look so soft. It has an artistic feel to it. The tiny lights double up nicely in an interesting pattern.

Four has that lovely, long, yet narrow view, making me wonder just how wide the lane you're photographing really is. Plus the details of the red light, the lit lettering of building signs, and the faint view of red and white cloth banners in the far background. All fascinating details.

What I liked best of this post is the way you describe what photography means to you. This is a view of the inside of your artists heart. A self portrait, if you will. And I am richer for your having shared it.

Thank you, David!

GreenJello said...

The third one has the best composition. I think some cropping of #4 would make it even more interesting... try long and skinny. :)

Hilary said...

I like the last one too. It reminds me of a flashlight/torch in the sky.

Maddy said...

Ooo decisions decisions, now you've put me on the spot. I would have said the first one but that could just be the initial impact so now I'm all confused[so easily done].....the one with the stars and the red traffic light showing through!

Cherie said...

I'm drawn the the blurred images more, and I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps, it gives them a dreamy quality ... or of having too much New Year's cheer. lol

Happy New Year!

spacedlaw said...

I'd go for the first one.

Do you sometimes feel that you have to take a picture and yet not knowing exactly why until you go home and look at what you have shot? It happens to me sometimes and that is the weirdest thing, like my eye is seeing something and not telling my brain (or both of them comploting against me)

anthonynorth said...

Stunning pictures - almost like gestalt imagery at the end, where it can appear totally different.

Celebration of Life said...

I liked them all but my favorite is the last one where you can see the stars!

I received a new Canon camera with 10.2 pixels for Christmas so I will try to blog some of my pictures soon but they won't even come close to comparing to yours!

Happy New Year!

Life with Kaishon said...

I like picture number 1! Thank you for sharing your pictures each week! Photography is such a special art! I love yours! Happy New Year!

Miss_Yves said...

A beautiful sentence, in your teXt:"they see the beauty through my eyes"
An eXcellent analysis of your art .
I love the first one (strange and poetic)and the last one (more realistic)
In fact, I agree with Lee.

Leslie: said...

I really love the last shot as it reminds me of stopping my car in the middle of railway tracks to take a shot of a train off in the distance (going away from me!) I can just imagine you straddling the tracks to get that perfect perspective of the lights. Great take on our X-day!

Maggie May said...

Well the first two are making me wonder but are a bit irritatingly blurred. Like when I leave off my glasses!

The third is a good composition & I was going to choose this one as I liked the angles of the wiring.

The one that really caught my eye is the last one. Brilliant!

ellen b said...

I like the photo where you took your life in your hands to shoot!! What a great display that must have been to see in person. I love all the lights this time of year!!
A very Happy New Year to you and yours!!

Rinkly Rimes said...

Number three! The sky is so navy-blue.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post! (The photos were excellent, too!)

I like 1, too, because it captured my imagination. The rest of them fleshed it out.

Annie said...

well, I like the third actually. I was nearly going to say numer 4 , but it is too...symmetrical?

ellen b must be confusing trams with trains..I am not entirely sure that standing on a tram track to take a photo is quite exactly putting your life in extreme danger..



babooshka said...

By a whisker the red dot No.4 and it is because the dot is red, which says a lot about my photography and mind too. Wishing you a fabulous New Year, puntastic of course.

dulce said...

It's how you look at things, not what you look at. That's what make a photographer.
Have a happy new year.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

They are all nice but I think the last one is my favorite. It looks a giant guitar neck. #2 reminds me of fingers. #1 is a little too abstract for my tastes but it is nice in how it relates to the other images.

Overall an interesting concept.

Happy New Year to you.

Lew said...

Great shots! My favorite is # 4.

quilly said...

You know, the 4th photo is quite breathtaking at first glance, but it is photos one and two that I keep revisiting.

humanobserver said...

Incredible shots....Wish you a happy and prosperous new year !

Liz said...

The first I think.

I tried to photograph some street lights with my basic little camera. Perhaps i should crop and see if I can find an interesting angle in them.

Happy New Year!

splummer said...

I really like them all! But the third one show them the way they really look, to me anyway! Have a great New Year!!


cheshire wife said...

The third photo gets my vote.

A Happy New Year to you and your family, David.

Daryl said...

the 3rd because its like strings of pearls

Happy New Year to you and all the authorblogettes

jinksy said...

As a very new blogger, I was delighted to happen upon this site, with its fusion of words and pictures. The first photo with its three golden lights - symbolising body, mind and spirit, perhaps - gave me a feeling of completeness. The later, silver-webbed images, though beautiful, were not as powerful. Their sence of fragility and impermanence encapsulated the fleeting nature of the Christmas spirit, which disappears all too soon in the cold light of yet another New Year where wars continue to be waged.

Bear Naked said...

I personally like number 4.
Happy New Year to you and yours.

Bear((( )))

Dragonstar said...

I love all these, the different shots of the same scene making it all look so different. I'm glad you were quick in the middle of the road!

Happy New Year from the ABC team!

The W.O.W. factor said...

There is a special 'feeling' I get from favorite. Is it a moon clinging to remnants in the sky? Or a guiding light to the horizon? I don't know...something mesmerizes me inn that picture.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

I really like the last one -- how they seem to stretch on forever.

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