Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally


Posted by Mike on September 28, 2009


They built a nice DNA shaped bridge for $10 million, but now what?

When Immunex wanted to build a new company campus on cheap property located in an under-utilized area of Seattle’s waterfront they were granted a building permit with a couple quid pro quos that the city would build them an off ramp for $19 million and the the company would build a foot bridge. Otherwise, the property was going to cut off from the public a waterfront park… As a practical matter Immunex employees who wanted to ride the bus would have to dodge railroad trains at the busy grain terminal where ships load grain from railcars and silos.

The deal was the foot bridge had to remain open to the public….

So today while I am photographing a “public place” (a bridge on a public right of way required by the city of Seattle) and buildings visible from a “public place” on all four sides the AMGEN (owner of Immunex) security guard comes running up and tells me to stop taking pictures that “she can’t allow that sort of thing”. I handed her my business card and informed her that she no such authority. The buildings were visible from a public place and to leave me alone. She began jabbering into her radio and walked off.


PR Calls 9-28…. Sorry… Our guard was just doing her job (maybe not as she should have been)  and we know it’s a public place but we need to protect our intellectual property… (which as, explained, is all inside the building and not visible).  Please remove the “horse’s ass of the week”  denotation on your blog…

Ok, so we will.. for now.

Lets see what happens on a return visit at a future unannounced date.

Amgen’s website has photos both inside and outside the building that can tell you corporate espionage types a lot more than my photos can…

click here:



Beat the Guard back to the car…. I think she outweighs me so I am safe…

This next image is 3 exposures (at ISO 200 at around 10 seconds or more) processed by Photomatix into an HDR image. Then the image is reimported to Lightroom and processed more as a 16 bit Pro-Color Space Tiff… Then exported as a sRGB jpeg in 8 bit color for the web. The rest below are hand held single exposures… processed to sharpen and reduce noise in 1600 ISO exposures down to 1/8th second.




Published: January 22, 2013

For a disheartening example of how intense lobbying and financial contributions can distort the legislative process in Washington, consider what happened to the “fiscal cliff” bill approved three weeks ago by Congress.

Senators who play a major role in federal health care financing were happy to help Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, evade Medicare cost-cutting controls by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients, including Sensipar, a drug made by Amgen. That provision was inserted into the final fiscal bill by Senate aides. Many members of Congress did not know it was in the bill until just hours before it was approved.

Although other companies will benefit financially from that delay, Amgen, which has 74 lobbyists in Washington, was the only company to lobby aggressively for the provision. The delay will cost the Medicare program up to $500 million over a two-year period.

The disturbing details were revealed in a report by Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack of The Times on Sunday. The maneuvering to exempt these drugs undercuts a five-year effort to change the incentives used to pay for kidney dialysis care. Previously, Medicare had paid providers separately for the drugs and for administering dialysis treatment, a system that often encouraged overprescribing.

But, in 2008, Congress reversed the incentives by requiring Medicare to pay a single, bundled rate for a patient’s dialysis treatment and related medications, starting in 2011. But certain oral drugs, including Sensipar, were given a two-year reprieve, to expire in 2014, from being included in that more cost-effective bundled system. The fiscal bill has now extended that exclusion for an additional two years.

Supporters of the delay — notably, Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat of Montana, who leads the Senate Finance Committee, and Orrin Hatch, of Utah, the ranking Republican on that committee — say it is needed to give the Medicare system and dialysis providers time to absorb other complicated changes in federal reimbursements for kidney care. But there is good reason to suspect other factors were involved as well. Both senators have political and financial ties to Amgen, as does Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who exerted great influence over the fiscal negotiations and praised the Medicare provisions.

A top aide to Mr. Hatch, who was involved in negotiating the dialysis delay, previously worked as a health policy analyst for Amgen. The current lobbyists for Amgen include former chiefs of staff for both Mr. Baucus and Mr. McConnell. And the three senators have received substantial contributions from Amgen’s employees and its political action committee since 2007 — almost $68,000 to Senator Baucus, $59,000 to Senator Hatch, and $73,000 to Senator McConnell.

Amgen’s strong influence prevailed even though it had pleaded guilty just weeks ago to marketing an anti-anemia drug illegally and agreed to pay criminal and civil penalties of $762 million, a record settlement for a biotechnology company.

This dreadful episode is a classic example of the power of special interests to shape legislation and shows how hard it may be to carry out the reforms needed to cut health care costs.

5 Responses to “AMGEN, DNA Bridge”

  1. What great evening shots of this “bridge”. What lens did you use on the last one?

  2. Mike said

    ALL the photos (day and night) were made with a Canon 5D and a 16-35mm canon F2.8L lens. The final shot is cropped from the original full frame image which was made at 30mm with the camera hand held pressed onto the bridge deck. When I do this I usually shoot anywhere from 3 to 20 shots to make sure there is a sharp one since the exposure time is about 1/15th of a second at f4 (ISO 1600). Obviously, a tripod is preferred but this company is a bunch of paranoid A-holes and won’t leave you alone… So, you work fast and keep moving. Everything you do is monitored by at least 5 video cameras.

    The shot from the ground looking up is ISO 250 at f8 (35mm) for 5, 6, and 15 seconds or so from a tripod. (Really, it is 3 different exposures put together in Photomatix and Lightroom and Photoshop. The camera is on the actual Seattle city street and the company has no say over this at all.

  3. Yeah, like you’re going to shoot pics of their IP through the window and off the computer screens! Given the constraints the shots look great.

  4. lima said

    Do you have some information about the company for consulting or construction in this project?

  5. Mike said

    One of Seattle’s newest architectural attractions is not a new sports stadium or an art museum, but a unique pedestrian bridge.

    The extraordinary 420-foot Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge spans eleven railroad tracks and connects the campus of one of the world’s largest biotechnical firms with a major transportation hub.

    The three-dimensional helix design represents the vital DNA research conducted at Amgen’s facility and highlights Birdair’s engineering and construction capabilities beyond architectural fabric membrane design.

    In 2004, the Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge received the “Outstanding Project” award under the Bridges and Transportation category given by the National Council of Structural Engineers Association.

    Project: Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge
    Owner: Amgen, Inc., Seattle, Wash.
    Architect: Johnson Architecture and Planning, Seattle, Wash.
    Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers, Seattle, Wash.
    Application: Transportation
    Material: PTFE
    Location: Seattle, Wash., USA
    Completed: 2004

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