The Lost City - Glen Davis, Capertee Valley - The HDR Experience by Philip Johnson


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The Lost City - Glen Davis, Capertee Valley - The HDR Experience by 


The former oil shale mining town lies at the end of the spectacular escarpments of the Capertee Valley, the largest enclosed valley in the southern hemisphere.

In its heyday about 2,500 people lived in the township. Vertical sandstone cliffs stand guard over the crumbling vegetation covered structures lending a surreal impression.

The site backs onto the Gardens Of Stone and Wolemni National Parks which are part of The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

Between 1939 and 1952 National Oil Proprietary Limited extracted oil from shale at their Glen Davis works in the Capertee Valley approximately 120 miles west of Sydney. The plant was built using much equipment salvaged from the closed Newnes shale oil works nearby. Although regarded as strategic for Australia’s wartime oil supply, the venture was plagued by technical, financial and political difficulties, and anticipated production was never fully realised. Viability of the shale mine and oil works were always questionable and they closed after a short and troubled life.

This shot shows the Retorts Brickwork of No.1 Retort bench still stands, but little remains of No.2 Retorts. Shale was fed from above and moved downward through the firebrick tubes as it was heated and burnt. Oil gases were released via side off-take flues, and ash was drawn out the bottom by rotating screws.

Gradually nature is reclaiming the buildings as we watch Australias history disapear….why?

Equipment: Nikon D300, Nikon 18-200mm lens
Technique: HDR 5 Bracketted Images processed with Photomatix Pro

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Philip Johnson is a Photographer located on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Specialising in HDR photography his works have been shown in galleries,published in Tourism campaigns. His work will also be available as Jig Saws through Crown & Andrews

Winner of the Art Unlimited Photography prize 2011

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  • Marilyn Harris
    Marilyn Harrisalmost 6 years ago

    Fabulous landscape Philip!! The HDR really works well!! :o)

  • barnsis
    barnsisalmost 6 years ago

    Amazing image amazing story excellent as an HDR

  • Lois  Bryan
    Lois Bryanalmost 6 years ago

    a magnificent image … as always … your extraordinary talent pulls out more than visual beauty .. you somehow manage to bring us its heart as well. If I may be so bold as to suggest, this group should find this one a real winner: Nature’s Reclamation

  • Tom Gomez
    Tom Gomezalmost 6 years ago

    Wonderful HDR Philip …

  • catherine walker
    catherine walkeralmost 6 years ago

    yes It’s so amazing ..what a land that is..magic..just magic!!

  • Davies
    Daviesalmost 6 years ago

    Amazing view and capture Philip.

  • Ian English
    Ian Englishover 1 year ago

    An oldie but a goodie Philip !! Hard to see the scale of the building until I viewed the close up image. What a place.

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