Annette Hamilton's Image Field

Photographs from a never-still life

Deep Mountain Monochrome

It’s almost impossible to grasp the complexity in landscape and environment in the Blue Mountains. One of my new  projects will focus on both small and large scale images, from the vast outlooks across the valleys to the tiny marks on rocks and trees. How do these link to one another? What scales can we see this space through? What happens in black and white/monochrome? I am thinking of using these images as the basis for multimedia works on paper using charcoal and different tones of gouache, for example. The monochromes I used for my Hawkesbury River skies should work just as well for the mountains.

I have seen some absolutely spectacular monochrome work on Blue Mountains scenery. I love Geoff Smith’s images (Geoff is a well-known art photographer from Blackheath). I am also interested in the minor details and small things found in the bush. Banksias for instance offer great density, detail and texture. Those below were photographed on the Blue Mountains TAFE campus at Wentworth Falls as part of my photography studies on my Sony Nex-5N.

Banksia in flower, spring 2016.
Banksia pods and leaves, spring 2016.

Am also thinking of trying to get back to my Pentax 35 mm film camera, long out of commission. It is possible to get Ilford 400 black and white film at The Camera House in Katoomba, and a couple of places still do processing and printing in Sydney. But the results on the Sony Nex-5N are pretty satisfying.

The challenges of photographing the vast spaces of the Blue Mountains in monochrome are endless. When you think of converting them to drawings/paintings it is possible to imagine them at many different scales, from small to vast.  Here are some more of those iconic Grose Valley images. We are so used to seeing them in colour, the monochrome adds such a different dimension. The textural elements emerge, as in the photo below which calls for something dense and soft at the same time.

Grose Valley Monochrome 2, February 2018.
Grose Valley Monochrome 3, February 2018

A classic/iconic representation of that famous cliff face. I tried to paint this, and other versions of this, scene over and again, in colour but they never worked.

Grose Valley Monochrome 4, February 2018

The sharpness produced by the sunlight on the cliff-face is the first thing you see: then you look upward, and realise how vast the mountain behind it really is. There is a walking track to the edge of this cliff-face, in the upper middle of the image.  During rain, a waterfall gushes from the edge of the V-shape.

Grose Valley Monochrome 5, February 2018.

A stray beam of sunlight rests on this flimsy branch. Thinking about trying to draw or paint this image: the darks are so dark, the details barely differentiated: this might be an image which can exist only as a photograph.

My latest monochrome project explores the dense brush, woodland and tall gums that adorn the steep escarpment that drops from Blackheath down into the Megalong Valley below. From a series of photographs taken recently in the early morning I am working on paintings, more or less monochrome, to capture the extraordinary light and misty distances in this unique and ancient landscape. More on the Megalong project in my recent post Megalong Mysteries here.

Megalong Monochrome 1.

Megalong Tree with base 2

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