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Heavy Metal + Opera by David McMahon

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This shot was taken on the jetty at Milsons Point in Sydney over the Easter weekend in 2009. It was dusk and there was heavy cloud over the city. While we waited for a ferry, I explored the pier near Luna Park and my attention was drawn to the graceful arc of the metal links of this chain. (2,717 views on 19 August 2014.)

One facet of this view that captivated me was that the links have a Surrealist touch, almost as if they are melting.

Because of the moody sky, I figured it would be a great opportunity to capture the metallic surface of the links.

The depth of field in this shot was very deliberate. While I composed it with the links as the central focus, you’ll notice one of the world’s most famous pieces of architecture in the background, across the harbour.

Yes, it’s the Sydney Opera House. Did you notice it immediately?

To me, this composition also signifies Australia’s own journey, from convict beginnings (represented by the metal chain) to acknowledged cultural status (represented by the Opera House).

I do not crop or post-edit my work in any way – what you see is exactly what I shoot. This was taken with a Pentax K100D, using a Sigma 18-125mm lens. I shot it at F5.6, 1/180 sec, ISO 200, with a focal length of 125mm.

Featured in DEPTH OF FIELD group, June 2009.

Featured in ANYTHING THEATRICAL, August 2009.

Featured in MY WONDERFUL MEMORIES, August 2009.

Featured in CITYSCAPES AND CITY SKYLINES, November 2009.

Featured in ALPHABET SOUP (LETTER O), April 2010.

Top 10, DEPTH OF FIELD challenge, September 2010.

Featured in 100-499 VIEWINGS, January 2011.

Featured in AS IS, January 2011.

Featured in MOODY AND EVOCATIVE, March 2011.

Featured in THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY, April 2011.

Featured in SPEAKING PHOTOS, May 2011.

Featured in PENTAX, July 2011.

Featured in AUSTRALIA AT LARGE, November 2011.


Walkley Award-nominated journalist, novelist and wedding photographer at

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  • Philip Johnson
    Philip Johnsonover 5 years ago

    interesting perspective David congrats

  • Thank you very much, Philip. I’m really glad you liked the shot.

    – David McMahon

  • Bob Hardy
    Bob Hardyover 5 years ago

    I did see the opera house right away; but I was expecting it. I found you in the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge group.

    Excellent art, David. I love the “melting” texture.

    Bob <><

  • Thank you, Bob. When I was composing the shot it struck me that the links looked as if they had been carved from ice and were starting to melt!

    – David McMahon

  • gottheshot
    gottheshotover 5 years ago

    Can you guess what it is yet ? – Rolf Harris.
    Outfoxed by a hyperintelligent autofocus :o)
    No seriously – only a few buildings in the world are so iconic that can be recognised in a shot like this.Making the viewer ‘do some work’ to see the
    ‘hidden subject’ – clever.
    Daring creativity :o)

  • Thank you very much for that great comment. Yes, I could definitely hear `Tie me Kangaroo Down, Sport’ when I composed that shot.

    – David McMahon

  • gottheshot
    gottheshotover 5 years ago

    Mr Harris and Australia – inextricable. Sydney Opera House with its shell shaped roof – known all over the world. Love to have been the designer putting this Opera House design forward – and the reply – ‘You gotta be joking havent ya !’
    I was gonna add one last comment on my previous – ‘Nice chain’ :o)

  • The first person to give a performance here was Paul Robeson – who sang for construction workers when the Opera House was being built!

    – David McMahon

  • Michelle BarlondSmith
    Michelle Barlo...over 5 years ago


  • Thanks, Michelle. Glad you liked it.

    – David McMahon

  • Rosalie Dale
    Rosalie Daleover 5 years ago

    Congrats in coming in the top 10 of the challenge! You got my vote – such a great (unusual) perspective on the House, if nothing else!

  • Thank you, Rosalie. I do try and find unusual or uncommon perspectives – and thank you for your vote of confidence!

    – David McMahon

  • Trish Woodford
    Trish Woodfordover 5 years ago

    Really interesting photo, love the blurred opera house in the background. Great composition :))

  • Thank you very much, Trish. Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’m delighted that you liked the composition here.

    – David McMahon

  • Jen Wahl
    Jen Wahlover 5 years ago

    I love this one too!! I saw it earlier and had to come back and fave it. I love the hardness and smooth texture… excellent.

  • Thank you very much, Jen. You are such a huge supporter of what I see through my lens. Thanks for favouriting this unusual shot.

    – David McMahon

  • scottsphotos
    scottsphotosover 5 years ago

    very cool david, really like it!!

  • Thank you very much. I always try and get a view that is slightly different from the norm, so it’s great that this one caught your eye.

    – David McMahon

  • Megs D
    Megs Dover 5 years ago

    What a fantastic photo. I love that the opera house is blurry and in the background. What a great and different take on this iconic structure!

  • Thank you, Megs. It certainly is an iconic structure and the strange thing is that Jorn Utzon never saw it completed.

    – David McMahon

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