Posted by: larnymackblog | June 21, 2011

In One End And Out The Other

Normally when I’m working a San Diego industrial photography shoot, I feel generally ready to take on any task. Now I know I’m ready for any photographic situation.

Close up of typical man-hole Cover.

Still called a man-hole cover. I guess ERA didn't want to argue for equality on this one.

Whenever I smell something bad I think of my mother. Don’t go postal on me; there is a back story to this. I’m the oldest of six children, so I spent the first twelve years of my life smelling dirty diapers, first my own (probably didn’t mind it), but then I was subjected to the innumerable contents of my remaining five siblings. Around the age of five I asked my mother, rather I demanded that we do something about the smell. She simply said “just turn your nose off.” Even at that tender age I figured she had gone round-the-bend.

She explained how not to breathe through your nose but through your mouth. To a five-year old this was too cool, so off I went to practice. I do remember asking her to alert me to the next Number Two encounter so I could test my nose-less prowess. It took a while but I finally got it. WOW. No more bad smells. I could walk through a cornucopia of olfactory assaults without hesitation.

By this time you have to be asking yourself, “What the bleep does this have to do with photography?” Well hang in there. Here it comes.

Yard view from the La Salina plant

Shot from atop one of the holding tanks

I recently completed a contract with the City of Oceanside. As commissioned by the Water Utilities Department, my charge was to document the City’s treatment plant. One of my specialties is industrial photography. These water facility plants process the clean or potable water but as one would suspect, they also handle the other end of the handle.

It was really quite fascinating. The challenge was to bring visual interest to a process that most would just as soon flush and forget. I had my doubts and preconceptions going in but those were quickly shattered when I saw the ducks. And who wouldn’t love the sight of ducks in a linear formation, especially a mamma duck and her brood of chicks.

At any rate, the plant manager met me at the door and steered me toward a beautifully landscaped yard where three large pools of water were waiting dispersal. I hadn’t seen the ducks yet. He explained that this was the last step in the treatment process of sewage. These 100ft diameter pools housed the water that would ultimately be emptied into the ocean. Like many of you, I’m seriously reconsidering my next trip to the beach. But wait, who are these ducks?

Cute little ducks at the water treament plant

Cute little ducks.

Swimming round & round & round is a family of water fowl. I’m guessing they couldn’t read the sign that said “Do Not Drink, non-potable water.” Who would know better what’s best for your children than momma? I’m also guessing the sign wasn’t there to really protect us from getting sick as much as protect our sensibilities. No, these ducks did not have three eyes, two bills, or an appendage growing out of their backs.

First stage, scrubber: Get the big chunks out

On we trudged to the beginning of the process. This was called the scrubber and where I thought of my mother. The plant manager warned me and said most tours avoided this particular building. However, my job was to document the entire industrial photography project not just the pretty parts. So, off went my nose. Less than 6 steps inside, curiosity got the better of me. OMG!!!

Stay tuned for Part Two: Never The Pipes Shall Meet


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