Mar 15 2009

i’m steamed!

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Geothermal plant on the shore of the Salton Sea

Even out in the wilds I’m as drawn to the beauty a power plant as I am to  a majestic shoreline or a graceful cactus. But it hasn’t been until recently that it has dawned on me that there are companies that are behind the design and construction of these structures. A while ago I was asked to shoot a HNTB design engineer that worked on the expansion of the south runway at LAX so that it could accommodate the new Airbus A380.

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Sean Naismith redesigning a runway at LAX

I hadn’t heard of the either the company or noticed the profession before and when I visited their website I discovered that they design and build the sorts of structures that I consider man-made art. They create freeway interchanges, parking garages, ports and skyscrapers.  I organized some of these photos into a mini-portfolio and started to show them to some of these firms and it has landed me some commissions to make portraits of their executives, but I want to shoot the structures.

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Two views of steam hiding the sun

We are once again in a national conversation about infrastructure, perhaps we can talk about the beauty of it as well.

Mark Harmel


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Mar 14 2009

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Published by under portraits,travel,visual concepts

I always like surprises. Once again on the Salton Sea trip we came upon a brand new truck stop in what was a desolate intersection coming out of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I was first attracted by the bright primary colors of the red signage, yellow construction tape and the blue sky. And then I saw her….

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The primary colors attracted me to this new truck stop

It was almost too good to be true. A matching vision wearing a yellow blouse with a red hat and matching shoes jumped out of the corner of my eye. I first thought that it must be a mirage. Did she dress to match the station?

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A mirage of matching colors

Using mostly sign language I implored her to move from under the overhang in front of the “Diesel #2″ sign. It turned out that she was there with her husband, who helped to translate my direction into Spanish. He was installing the pumps at the truck stop and she was there either to help or keep him company. Either way it was my lucky day!

Mark Harmel

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Mar 11 2009

journey to the salton sea

Published by under travel,visual concepts

Last weekend I went on a desert journey to the Salton Sea with my friend Martin Trailer. Both of us are still wading through our images and making posts as we find time. Martin beat me to the punch by posting an image of me walking out on some mud flats to shoot a series of dead trees stranded in the water.

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Row of dead oak trees in the Salton Sea

They are not the typical vision of a idealized landscape, but when you are in a desert shooting into a dieing sea – a beauty of bleakness seems to be in order.

Mark Harmel

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