Wednesday, March 11, 2009

H Is For Handlebars

Meet Isobel, Necessary On A Bicycle

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON



Sometimes random sights make interesting images. I was in a hurry when I shot this on my first evening in Dawson City, up in the Yukon, in late August. I had an hour to spare and I took a brisk walk up the riverbank, turning around smartly like a parade-ground officer when I had exactly half an hour left.

I had both cameras with me, one with an 18-125mm lens and the other with a 70-300mm lens, so I was basically covered for any eventuality. Armed with both of those lenses, I knew I could stay on the riverbank and shoot anything in the middle distance or that caught my eye along the colourful main street.

As I returned to my hotel I noticed this cycle leaning against the side wall of a home. I just had to take the shot. It wasn’t just the bike or the colour of the exterior wall; it was the sum total of the picket fence, the angle of the bike, the fabric lying casually on the fence palings, the dark metal against the light colour of painted timber, and of course the strong shadow of the handlebars on the painted yellow timber.

It was just one of those scenes you had to shoot. I sometimes get asked what exactly determines the images I capture – and my answer is always the same. If you look twice at something, hit that shutter button. Chances are the light conditions will be different the next time you pass by, or that it will be obscured or, worse, that it won’t even be there.


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

50 comments:

Artist Unplugged said...

That is an awesome photo, looks like a painting! Very neat.

Merisi said...

Great shot!
Oh yes, I agree, hit that shutter button, and file a silent thank you prayer to the Lords of Digitals for making it affordable. ;)

PRH....... said...

Great, outstanding, colors in that there photo....

spacedlaw said...

ready between the yellow, green and white there was photo material. The blue bicycle adds to it nicely.

Hilary said...

I love this. The colours and lines are so crip, clear and perfect that it almost looks surreal. Beautiful image.

Woman in a Window said...

I know that last one. Once I house I loved disappeared. The.whole.house.
SHOOT!

Tranquility said...

Neat colors!

Janie said...

Very nice catch. I like the colors and the way the picket fence and bike seem to say this is home.

Bee said...

Those clean, bright colours are really uplifting.

the eternal worrier said...

Great picture. I’ve been working on improving my own photography this year and your blog has been a fantastic inspiration. What you say about looking twice is so true. I’ve taken to always carrying my little camera around ...just in case. Keep up the good work.

lime said...

the brilliance of every color is almost unreal!

lakeviewer said...

YOur eye didn't let go. The picture became a gift for all of us.

Mara said...

Jigsaw puzzle worthy! Really lovely photograph

RuneE said...

I agree about when to take pictures. In this case I prefer the second one with the mat (or whatever it is) on the fence. To me it gave more baklance to the picture.

Steph said...

AMAZING photo! It beautifully sums up a happy, carefree summer day. I envy your eye.

TR said...

photos are awesome. You are one of the true rulers of the blog world

Life with Kaishon said...

That is a truly stunning picture. I love everything about it. The fence, the paint color, and of course, the bike : ). Glad you shared it today for H.

Maggie May said...

I do like the way that you get such beautiful colours into your photos.
Am I just living in a dull country? Or am I never in the right place at the right time!

cheshire wife said...

I agree with Maggie we do not seem to see bright colours in this country. Everything seems to be dull. Maybe it is the result of winter and dark evenings.

Mojo said...

"...won't even be there." How often has that happened?

I'm in complete agreement on that philosophy, and I'll add to it a bit of my own: "Never take one shot when two will do the job."

Even during the days when I was still shooting film I held the belief that film is cheap when put beside the shot you get because you took two instead of one. And with digital storage costing essentially nothing, there is absolutely no reason for a one-and-done unless the subject is too transient to capture more than once.

Granted there are some shots that you either get or you don't and you get exactly one chance to try. But when you're shooting a tree, or a house, or an urban ruin or a (parked) car and have no time constraints, take another. Even if it's just to adjust the framing, taking a step back or forward, shifting the focal plane or for that matter just as insurance against something you might have missed the first time round.

Because this subject in this light with this arrangement of things is a one-time-only offer. Come back to the same spot tomorrow and something will be different. So get it right the first time.

Or the second.

Louise said...

First, love the shots. The yellow and shadows draw my attention. And I couldn't agree more about looking twice. How many times have I been in a hurry and missed something because it wasn't there. Or even turned around a minute later and missed it?

But are you SURE you turned around "smartly." It wasn't just ordinarily? And this just makes me laugh because I do the exact same thing. But I think with you at exactly 1/2 hour, there could be problems, because the changes of something cropping up that takes extra time on the way back is greater than with the average person. Of course it was greater on the way there, too, but it just seems...

Granny Smith said...

And how many times have I regretted not snapping that picture at that just-right moment! I certainly see what you saw in this one, with its strong color and shadow at just the right angle.

TR said...

Hey Dave,
Visit my blog at http://tomzviewz.blogspot.com

You inspired me to create it

Thanks for Commenting,
Tom.

gone to the dogs said...

the colours in this picture are great. I love it. thanks

HanamiGallery said...

i really like the yellow building, green grass, and the blue bike! very nice colors. im not a big fan of the beige thing on the fence, so i like the first pic better!

Jeff B said...

I like how the shadow of the handlebars gives the shot an added dimension.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Yep-it helps to have handlebars when you ride a bike.Nice photos,too!

joan said...

Funny I never even noticed the fabic until you mentioned it and then I seen it in the second photo. You really notice everything that surrounds you. Cool photo!

Babooshka said...

Bikes and photography go hand in ahnde, but only pushbikes. That yellow is phenomenal and puts me in mind of Provence, and a longing to be there. One of my favourites od yours, just perfect.

Lene said...

Hi, David :)

I like the first photo the most! It is really cool - and in Norway we say: Gult er kult! It means Yellow is cool ;)

Handlebars are great H`s - I don`t understand how I dared to bycicle whithout holding my hands at the handlebars when I was younger. Madness - LOL ;)

Robynn's Ravings said...

This ROCKS. Should be painted onto canvas.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

David, at first I thought this was a painting or a book jacket. Wonderful image...

Sheila :-)

Sylvia K said...

What a great photo! Not surprised, of course! Love the colors -- does almost look like a painting! Thanks!

Suzanne Casamento said...

It's a good one. At first I thought the color of the wall is what makes it.

But after reading your explanation, I agree. This shot is all about the total package. Nice work!

Nessa said...

Looks very homey.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

The color and composition is remarkable.

Carol said...

Cobalt against yellow with white pickets: priceless!

Tumblewords: said...

Great shot - it does look like a painting.

Paula Scott said...

So true! So, true! You must seize the moment and be ready.

Prabath said...

I like all the colours, specially yellow.

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introspection said...

Pretty picture...!
Colours, Colours, and Colours. Lovely yellow and green set off by the white fence to frame and focus the bike.
Just realised that I am learning to appreciate pro photography..! thanks David.

The Vengeance said...

Mmmmmm, I like it. ^_^
From an artist's perspective (if that lends me any more merit than usual) this is a really nice composition. The complementary colors of the bike versus the wall and the shapes of the fence and the shadow make it really fantastic.
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diXymiss said...

WOW! That is some eXtraordinarily vivid color ~ particularly SOOC.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

What an uplifting photo! Sunshine yellow and the promise of summer bike rides - it's so appealing.

Muppet Soul said...

The colors in that photo make me happy.

Jay said...

I think that's a good maxim, and one I followed yesterday, when I looked twice at a fish shop with a shark's head 'embedded' in the wall above the window. I asked myself when I thought I would use it ... but I took the shot anyway!

This one appeals to me if only because of the combination of sunny blue/yellow/green/white. It's a very spring-like picture.

Carolina said...

Another great photo David. I like the colours and the shadow of the bike. You always show us how important it is to look and see! The first photo is so much more special than the second. Great!

Miss_Yves said...

Brilliant colours and explanations !
I prefer the first one : its composition reminds of me that of a painting, I seem to see the frame of a canvas.

I suppose that your title countains a wit:"Is a bell necessary on a bicycle"?

Suldog said...

Magnificent photo, so reminiscent of bygone times. I wonder if the owner of the bike is older, perhaps reliving a piece of youth?

Dragonstar said...

I love those colours! for me, it has to be the second one - the landscape format. But the colours and the lines are wonderful.