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Gondola On Gold (No, It's Not The Loch Ness Monster!) by David McMahon

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Gondola On Gold (No, It's Not The Loch Ness Monster!) by 

Gondolas and hot-air balloons have one thing in common – because they are not powered craft, you can’t really hear them coming.

This gondola was cruising down the dark Yarra about three weeks ago, on a late-autumn night, when I happened to spot its dark shape gliding along in total silence.

I knew that if I waited a minute or so, it would emerge from a stretch of pitch-black water into an area that was like molten gold.

I shot this without a tripod, knowing that the forward movement of the gondola would work against the fact that I needed a decent exposure time. I shot four frames, but the texture of the water in this one is the best.

However, you can see slightly blurry edges around the shadow of the gondola’s prow – and if you locate the navigation light of the man-powered craft, you can detect the motion blur.

A tough shot – but one I’m fairly pleased with.

I do not crop, enhance or post-edit my images in any way. Shot with a Pentax K100D, using a Sigma 70-300mm lens. F1.2, 1/6 sec, ISO 800, focal length 285mm.



autumn, cruise, david mcmahon, gondola, loch ness monster, melbourne, nessie, night, yarra

Walkley Award-nominated journalist, novelist and wedding photographer at

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  • Angela King-Jones
    Angela King-Jonesabout 4 years ago

    ha ha.. I think you got the shot.. texture in the water is “golden” Well seen David

  • Thanks very much, Angela. The reflections are from the lights on the opposite side of the river, near Flinders Street Station.

    – David McMahon

  • Torfinn
    Torfinnabout 4 years ago

    Great work David!

  • Thank you, Torfinn. Lucky I had my long lens on, because I knew I needed a really tight frame.

    – David McMahon

  • Martina Fagan
    Martina Faganabout 4 years ago

    Superb,a brilliant image:)

  • Very kind of you, Martina. I was several metres away, on a promenade, but I visualised what I wanted – and I was VERY lucky I had my long lens on, because my normal lens (18-125mm) would not have been sufficient.

    – David McMahon

  • ellismorleyphto
    ellismorleyphtoabout 4 years ago

    Great find and capture, David! :-D

  • Thanks, Ellis – just lucky to be in the right place at the right time!

    – David McMahon

  • Gail Bridger
    Gail Bridgerabout 4 years ago

    Very Beautiful…David

  • Thank you, Gail – it’s so strange to photograph a moving object that emits no sound at all!

    – David McMahon

  • Ranald
    Ranaldabout 4 years ago

    Well, it could be her cousin Maggie who stays in nearby Loch Lochy.

  • DNA tests came up positive, Ranald!

    – David McMahon

  • Ranald
    Ranaldabout 4 years ago

    Anyway, beautiful shot.

  • Thank you, Sir Ranald, glad you like this one.

    – David McMahon

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1about 4 years ago

    Beautifully done, David

  • Thank you, Shulie. It’s only the second time I’ve seen a gondola here!

    – David McMahon

  • ellismorleyphto
    ellismorleyphtoabout 4 years ago

    Yes yes, but you saw it and captured it so take some credit ;-)

  • Good advice. Thanks, Ellis. Have to track down the gondola again!

    – David McMahon

  • Dinni H
    Dinni Habout 4 years ago

    very lovely! love the tones and love the way you have captured it!

  • Thank you very much, Dinni. I plotted its path, composed the shot in my mind, tried holding the camera as steady as I could – and squeezed the trigger as soon as the prow was exactly where I wanted it!

    – David McMahon

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