Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Book Talk and Signing

I’m looking forward to the book signing at Harvard Business School Club of New York. If you are in the city, or even if not, please join us.

•Date: 2/22/2017        •Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
•Location:  Bryant Park Corporation, 5 Bryant Park (aka 1065 6th Ave)
NOTE: Entrances to 5 Bryant Park are located on both 40th and 41st streets b/n 6th Ave. and Broadway. No entry from 6th Ave. itself.006265

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Book Trailer

“Industrial Scars: The Hidden Costs of Consumption” is being published this month! To help promote the project (and keep you excited!) we just released a book trailer:



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The first batch of books

The book launch is fast approaching and I cannot wait for the work to be seen. Until then, I wanted to share some images from my Aluminum chapter.

My first exposure to the detritus of aluminum production came when I started photographing “cancer alley” the stretch of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The vast lakes of red mud had a myriad of wonderful patterns and colors, and produced some of the most compelling images of the series, even though I had no idea at first what it was.

Aluminum Refinery

Producing aluminum metal involves refining bauxite (the ore) using caustic chemicals to produce alumina and the electrolytic reduction of alumina to produce aluminum. This depicts the disposal of the byproducts, in which the solids (mostly impurities in the bauxite) are separated from the liquids.

Aluminum refinery

Aluminum Refinery

Bauxite waste at aluminum refinery

Bauxite Waste at Aluminum Refinery

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At a recent meeting in London with Papadakis Publisher, I got to see the proofs. This will be a beautiful book and we’ve received great responses from the press.

There will be a launch event at the London Science Museum in October, and of course the trade launch will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

To satisfy your curiosity until the book comes out, here are some images from the BP Oil Spill and an excerpt from the Oil chapter.




“Tom and I flew 7 times over “The Source” in that Alabama summer with its terrific heat. Usually, once aloft, the heat dissipates and conditions are pleasant. But as one circled the spill site, the heat and petroleum stench were overwhelming. The ocean seems so endless, until you look down and see it covered with oil, and arrive at the destination to find a toxic industrial zone where there should be nothing but clear blue water. “


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The Fracking Bubble

I am an engineer at the core, and fascinated by the industrial processes in front of the camera. So a lot of research and writing goes behind these photos. And much is learned “in the trenches”, especially when one has the chance to spend time with a real expert.

While I know a good bit about the refining of aluminum and can recite the steps, those chemical formulas get hard. And another one: the Haber-Bosch Process for extracting nitrogen from natural gas. It saved the world from starvation, but can I explain it?

But hydrofracking is my turf. Here is a little excerpt of the text I’ve been working on for the book:

“Hydrofracking is different from traditional oil and gas exploration in which large reservoirs are found containing tremendous volumes of hydrocarbons and extracted by drilling a hole into it. Fracturing a rock layer deep underground is an expensive, high-tech process, and can be done only locally and in small increments, releasing a relatively small amount of petroleum from each well. Then the teams move down the line and repeat. Because of this incremental nature of the extraction, the oil companies must lease drilling rights from landowners over the target rock layer. These leases have expiration dates, which puts pressure on the oil companies to drill, whether the laws of supply and demand justify it. Therefore the price of natural gas has been driven downward in the USA relative to the rest of the world.

Hydro-fracking site with drill rig. A water reservoir is filled by trucks for later fracking.
Hydro-fracking site with drill rig. A water reservoir is filled by trucks for later fracking.

The two principal stages of the process, drilling and fracking, are discrete steps performed by separate teams using different equipment, each posing its own hazards. Drilling entails boring down to the shale layer, then horizontally through it, installing a pipe, pouring a concrete collar around the upper part and finally, perforating the pipe running through the shale. The drill rig then leaves for another job and the well is sealed to await the fracking team. For the fracking, 12 giant compressors on truck beds are clustered around the well head, and pump, at extreme pressure, millions of gallons of water mixed with a cocktail of chemicals and sand into the perforated pipes, a mile below the surface.”

And it’s a joy to revisit these things several years later. Especially fracking, which has been halted in New York State. For now.

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Time to Move on (to Arctic Drilling)

The books arrived today. Fortunately, we were able to allocate them around the world for the various upcoming exhibits and signings, so only 30 crates of books had to be hoisted up the five flights of stairs. I need the workout.

Now that the finished product is in hand, the pain of creation fades. It has been a long year. When we finally had the book outline approved and deadlined, the BP gulf spill occurred. I remember thinking 2 things: can I go down and do something that has not been done by all of the journalists convening on the gulf, and what is this going to do to the book deadline?

As it was, I did go down, and got some amazing images. The memory of waiting in the Mobile airport, begging the airline counter people for the last ticket back to New York (more than once) and all the while pulling out the laptop whenever I had a quiet moment and writing, writing, writing. Being the world’s worst at deadlines, I was supposed to keep all of the contributors on schedule as well? Some, especially Dr. Hansen, did not sign on until after the deadline. And how can you rush James Hansen?

Then there are always the re-writes. Trying to craft clear language that expresses complex issues while simultaneously having a lyrical tone is the hardest thing in the world.

Of course, we missed the deadline, primarily because of all of the time I spent shooting the Gulf. At the time it seemed like a tragedy: missing the Christmas season. It turned out to be one of those mysterious blessings. What could be more timely than to have the book come out when I have two shows up in New York, and a raft of press? The book became a catalyst magnifying the impact of all of the events.

Time to move on and tackle Arctic drilling.

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At the warehouse

They tell us the books are arriving at the warehouse any day. Very exciting.
So much has happened that the book seems like an old friend: visual memory almost forgotten; what remains is the sense and smell.
And in spite of the anxieties about arrival date and disappointment from missing the season of Christ, the timing could not be better with the two exhibitions opening in NYC.
I look forward to having this testament in my life.
So many thanks to the different contributors.

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