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Activated Sludge Plant

By Philo  
I work as a construction site manager on water and waste water projects. Part of my role is to photograph the projects before, during and after. They tend to be quite mundane so I wanted to have a go at making them a little more interesting: like proper photographs.
This is a view over a new activated sludge plant we built at Dewsbury Waste Water Treatment Works (WwTW) with the old buildings and digesters in the background.
Camera settings: f/8, 1/640s, ISO 200, 17mm (ISO accidentally left at 200 from previous shot)
I would appreciate any feedback to help improve this shot and please feel free to modify.

Tags: Landscape and travel

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


paulbroad 10 123 1243 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2010 8:11AM
I think this is a first class record. It's hardly meant to be pictorial, and you have shown everything in a well exposed and technically competant manner.

Ok, you could have had more dramatic lighting, a lower viewpoint to the sludge and extreme wide angle, and it would have been more 'impressive'. But is that then depicting this plant.

I once had some control over such a plant, I worked in coke oven management and our effluents were treated by activated sludge. The smell was not pleasant.


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Cor 9 Belgium
29 Aug 2010 8:20AM
Excellent +++++
Philo 8 99 83 England
29 Aug 2010 8:22AM
Cheers Paul, as usual your opinion is highly valued as I'm guessing you have done work like this during your career. Compared to most areas on a sewage works an activated sludge plant does not smell too bad, unless it's not working right. But if you aren't used to it then I guess it would be unpleasant. The worst I have come across was a site near Ripon that treated waste from a turkey abattoir. My stomach is churning just thinking about it!
Philo 8 99 83 England
29 Aug 2010 10:28AM
Yes Frank, I was aware of your engineering background so again another valued opinion. Many thanks for your feedback once again.
I want to try the shot again during low evening light to what effect the long exposure has on the surface of the "water".
pamelajean Plus
12 1.1k 2016 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2010 12:57PM
If this isn't a "proper" photograph, I don't know what is. With no knowledge about waste water projects, I seem to be in the minority, but when I saw this I couldn't believe that such a good picture could come out of such a project. I like the patterns and colours in the water, and the way you have brought the plant into the image, with the water still being the most eyecatching part. You have a very interesting sky, too, and the diagonal lines work well. I can only suggest that you try this in different lighting situations, and even get some closer shots of the water, the patterns are so interesting. But I cannot see anything wrong with this image, and certainly no need to modify it.
Philo 8 99 83 England
29 Aug 2010 1:48PM
Many thanks Pamela. The water industry sounds dull and boring but it is actually very interesting. A huge amount of money is spent year on year and state of the art technology installed. To give you an idea this plant is about the size of a football pitch and, with a few ancillaries, cost 24m to construct. It wasn't actually my project, I just got involved towards the end.
Thanks again for your kind words.
paulbroad 10 123 1243 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2010 8:36AM
Hello Phil,

Our plant deals with Ammonia mostly, a certain type of bug I suppose - I dealt with the running of it rather than the technology - flow rates - keep the operator informed of coke oven effluent rates etc. There was a continual smell - just slight - of sewage - but if we 'lost' a tank of bugs, the smell was horific.

Philo 8 99 83 England
30 Aug 2010 9:09AM

This plant removes both carbon and ammonia, and yes different types of bacteria are required. The carbonaceous bacteria are more prolific and so the carbon load has to reduced dramatically before the ammonia can be treated. The plant nitrifies ammonia to nitrate and then denitrifies it to nitrogen in an anoxic zone at the front end of the plant.


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