A couple of weeks ago I joined large format photographer, Tony Lewis, for a few days painting and photographing up over the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Our subject was the ruins of  an old oil shale works tucked under the escarpment at Glen Davis. It’s a spectacular location and Tony and I plan to base an exhibition on these and other abandoned ruins in the area.

The dominating structure at the old shale works is the abandoned retort building. Its interesting brick work, steel strapping and monumental scale give it a unique and menacing presence.

The contrast between the hard, geometric ruins and the soft, organic landscape make stark and beautiful subjects as the sun goes down.

Tony waits for a shot through the early morning fog. Large format photography is a time consuming business – calculating exposure, loading film, framing shots and then waiting for the perfect light.

We were lucky to have atmospheric foggy mornings and mostly clear days while we were there. The fog soaked everything, saturating the colors and stretching the tonal contrast – ideal conditions for taking photographs.

We started and finished each day in the dark. My intention was to do a few watercolor sketches, but there was so much interesting stuff to record , I only managed one painting of the old retorts.

I’m looking forward to getting back down to the area with Tony and exploring some more of these old ruins he has discovered.

Tony’s large format images can be seen on his website “A Brief Vision of Time”