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How To Turn Steel Into Silver by David McMahon

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The afternoon sunlight gleaming on these old steel rivets caught my eye as I walked across the Sandridge Rail Bridge here in Melbourne, which is now a public walkway across the Yarra River. The strong springtime light (this was shot in October 2007) transformed the dull grey rivets into a string of silvery pearls that seemed to continue into eternity.

As I lined up the shot, showing the rivets and nothing else, a tourist several metres away walked to the edge of the bridge, filming nearby Flinders Street Station with his video camera. I immediately changed my shot – and my entire composition – accordingly.

I do not crop, enhance or post-edit my images in any way. Shot with a Pentax K100D, using a Sigma 70-300mm lens. F8, 1/500 sec, ISO 200, focal length 300mm.


Featured in ALRIGHT, WHAT IS IT?, April 2011.



rivets, steel, sunlight, sandridge rail bridge, david mcmahon, metal

Walkley Award-nominated journalist, novelist and wedding photographer at

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    JUSTARTover 3 years ago

    great shot

  • Thank you, JustArt. The rivets are actually painted gun-metal grey, believe it or not!

    – David McMahon

  • Evita
    Evitaover 3 years ago

    Excellent capture !!! ☺♥

  • Thanks, Evita – you wouldn’t believe the difference the sunlight made!

    – David McMahon

  • Jacqueline Wilkinson
    Jacqueline Wil...over 3 years ago

    Lovely light and great lines

  • Thank you for your kind comment, Jacqueline. As I said to JustArt, the rivets are actually a dull shade of gun-metal grey, so the bright afternoon light completely transformed them.

    – David McMahon

  • David Davies
    David Daviesover 3 years ago

    Good one, David!

  • Thanks very much, David. It’s quite a historic bridge – and now serves pedestrians, not train passengers disembarking from ships.

    – David McMahon

  • MsLynn
    MsLynnover 3 years ago

    What a great POV,I love shots like this

  • Thank you, Ms Lynn – the tourist in that bright jacket was a real stroke of luck, because it gave the frame a completely new perspective, so different from what I had intended to shoot.

    – David McMahon

  • Carla Jensen
    Carla Jensenover 3 years ago

    Spectacular Image..David!! fabulous comp.,lines and of course lighting!! amazing what a little afternoon light can do isn’t it…Excellent work and eye, as always , my friend!! Wtg =D

  • Many thanks, Carla. You’re right about how the nuances of light really define the way we see things.

    – David McMahon

  • Sandra Moore
    Sandra Mooreover 3 years ago

    beautiful capture, wonderful dof, wonderful!

  • Thanks very much, Sandra – so glad you like the result, all due to the stranger in the bright jacket!

    – David McMahon

  • Dragomir Vukovic
    Dragomir Vukovicover 3 years ago

    great touch

  • Very kind of you, Dragomir. I immediately changed my concept, the very moment the tourist arrived at the edge of the bridge!

    – David McMahon

  • Judi Rustage
    Judi Rustageover 3 years ago

    Stunning capture. You have turned the ordinary into the amazing. Love the explanatory prose too :)

  • Humbly, I say thank you for your extraordinary comment, Judi. Your words mean a great deal.

    – David McMahon

  • LisaBeth
    LisaBethover 3 years ago

    amazing shot! david. greetings. lisa

  • Thanks very much, Lisa. Instinct took over and I changed my shot completely! So glad you like the result.

    – David McMahon

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