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Step Up To The Challenge by David McMahon

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I was walking through the Chinatown area of Singapore in December 2007 when this exterior stairwell caught my eye.

I was actually standing several metres to the right, when I noticed the strictly regimented pattern of the stairs and the rectangular “windows” above each step.

Then I realised that if I moved about fifteen metres to my left, I would be able to shoot not only the stairs, but the contrasting patterns (and colours) on a nearby building as well. The bright afternoon light also contibuted to deep shadows within the geometrical pattern.

And do you reckon you can spot a) two numbers and b) two lights?

I do not crop, enhance or post-edit my images in any way. Shot with a Pentax K100D, using a Sigma 18-125mm lens. F8, 1/250 sec, ISO 200, focal length 125mm.

Featured in UNIQUE BUILDINGS OF THE WORLD, April 2010.

Featured in SHAPES AND PATTERNS, April 2010.

Featured in DSLR USERS GROUP, April 2010.

Featured in 60s GLORY, April 2010.

Featured in COMPLEX SIMPLICITY, April 2010.

Top 10 in WHICH WAY (EXTERIOR STAIRS) Challenge, October 2010.


Walkley Award-nominated journalist, novelist and wedding photographer at

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  • Petrit  Metohu
    Petrit Metohuover 4 years ago

    Very nice work

  • Thanks very much. The real appeal, for me, was the chance to contrast the stairs with the bright colour of the adjacent building!

    – David McMahon

  • Jimmy Joe
    Jimmy Joeover 4 years ago

    love it~!!

  • Thanks very nmuch, Gerrard. I thought it looked like something out of a 3D puzzle book!

    – David McMahon

  • Betty Mackey
    Betty Mackeyover 4 years ago

    It looks entirely computer generated but it’s not!

  • Thanks so much, Betty – that didn’t actually cross my mind when I took the shot, but when I looked at it on my laptop that’s what I thought, too!

    – David McMahon

  • Lois  Bryan
    Lois Bryanover 4 years ago

    David, this is positively incredible … awesome, awesome, awesome!!!!!!!! What an eye you have … and your moving around a bit to discover the perfect angle was genius!!!!! I LOVE this kind of shot … all angles and lines … I’m in awe!!!

  • Thank you, Lois, for that kind comment. I was just lucky that the pattern on the adjacent building was a perfect backdrop for the shape and colour of the stairwell …!

    – David McMahon

  • CeePhotoArt
    CeePhotoArtover 4 years ago

    Totally awesome stairs!!! :D

  • Thank you, Cee – wish I’d been able to climb them to see where they led to!

    – David McMahon

  • CeePhotoArt
    CeePhotoArtover 4 years ago

    Your cohosts,
    Cee and Chris

  • Thanks very much, Cee and Chris.

    – David McMahon

  • CeePhotoArt
    CeePhotoArtover 4 years ago

    I bet it was wonderful!!

  • Next time I’m there, I will definitely go back and ask permission to climb those stairs, Cee!

    – David McMahon

  • Merrilyn Hunt
    Merrilyn Huntover 4 years ago

    This almost looks like part of a toy set. There’s something child-like about it — and I’m not just talking about the photographer! Ha ha

  • You’re so right, Merrilyn – it does look like something out of a Lego city. Like the quip, too! Yeah, I’d agree with that ….

    – David McMahon

  • DonDavisUK
    DonDavisUKover 4 years ago

    Wonderful work David.

  • Thank you, Don. The adjoining building played a large part in how I “saw” this image.

    – David McMahon

  • Terri~Lynn Bealle
    Terri~Lynn Bealleover 4 years ago

    Awesome shot David!! I see why this stairwell caught your eye; it’s brilliant!!

  • Thank you, Terri-Lynn – I strode around the city for many hours that day, pointing my camera at many beautiful sights! Singapore has always captivated me, since my first visit as an 11-year-old.

    – David McMahon

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