As someone who grew up around ocean-going vessels, I have always been fascinated by nautical subjects. So while travelling in northern Ontario in late September 2005, when I had the chance to take an afternoon cruise aboard one of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions, I jumped at the chance. 181 views on 16 March 2011.

That tourist attraction, of course, was the Gravenhurst, Muskoka-based RMS Segwun which is the oldest operating steamship in North America. It’s not every day you get a chance to travel aboard a 19th-century vessel (the Segwun was built in 1887) so of course I re-adjusted my schedule quickly.

The weather, however, was grey, cloudy and rainy all day. But as I stood in the persistent drizzle, I wanted to take a shot that would capture the smoke billowing from the Segwun’s tall funnel.

All the great images portraying steamships seemed, from memory, to have been taken by observers on land. Could I do it from the deck of the vessel itself? That’s when I realised that the terrible weather was the best possible backdrop for the image I wanted to portray.

This frame was shot just before the vessel docked at Gravenhurst at the end of the afternoon. At the time, I did not realise that many of the scenes I saw that day would find their way into my next novel. Nor did I realise that my trip to Muskoka would help me choose the title for that novel, “Muskoka Maharani”, soon to be released by Penguin.

Finally – can you see the bird in this image?

I do not crop, enhance or post-edit my images in any way. Shot on film using a Canon EOS 3000.



canada, nautical, funnel, muskoka, gravenhurst, steam ship, muskoka maharani, royal mail ship, smoke, ontario

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  • Karen E Camilleri
    Karen E Camilleriover 4 years ago

    Super perspective David, the smoke looks great. Wonderful movement in this image, love the touch of colour on the funnel, windows & life boat too! I think I can spot the bird to the left of the screen just above the horizon.

  • Thanks very much for all ofthe above, Kaycam. And yes, you certainly spotted the bird!

    – David McMahon

  • mando13
    mando13over 4 years ago

    " SMOKE ON THE WATER" we all came up to Monteaux……

  • You’ve nailed it, Mando – that is the perfect title. I bow to The Master!

    – David McMahon

  • CeePhotoArt
    CeePhotoArtover 4 years ago

    Your cohosts Cee and Chris

  • Thanks very much, Cee and Chris.

    – David McMahon

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1over 4 years ago

    Wonderful shot

  • Thanks, Shulie. They even allowed me into the engine room, where a fireman was stoking the boiler. Amazing sight!

    – David McMahon

  • mando13
    mando13over 4 years ago

    You’re the Master Image Catcher David

  • Thank you, very humbly, for commending me for something I enjoy doing.

    – David McMahon

  • Colin J Williams Photography
    Colin J Willia...over 4 years ago

    This is superb work !! – Colin

  • Thank you, Colin. The shape of the smoke trail dictated the composition.

    – David McMahon

  • sfmilner
    sfmilnerover 4 years ago

    Greetings David; A nicely captured image, it relays the feel quite well, a beautiufl image. Yes, the bird is center, almost out of frame.

  • Glad you like the shot, Steve – and yes, you’re right about the bird.

    – David McMahon

  • Daniela Cifarelli
    Daniela Cifarelliover 4 years ago

    FANTASTIC! Instant fv! ;-) DANIELA

  • Thanks very much, Daniela, it’s great to know you liked this shot.

    – David McMahon

  • Geos
    Geosalmost 4 years ago

    It evokes a sense of leaving the familiar; bound for the unknown. The background is a bit empty tho. I would like to see something of interest like a few more birds or vessels or buildings on the distant shore. It would make it more poignant.

  • I know what you mean. However, the weather was so bad that day that there was no shoreline visible!

    – David McMahon

  • Roy  Massicks
    Roy Massicksover 3 years ago
    Looks like a great old vessel David – whoever coined the phrase ’ The romantic era of steam’ never had to stand downwind of a steamer’s funnel. I spent hours as a relieving deckhand on the steam tug William C Daldy in Auckland Harbour when she was still in service.
  • She is a wonderful vessel. I even had the chance to go down into the boiler room where coal was being shovelled by hand!

    – David McMahon

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