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Sustenance (September 19-23, 2007)

Milko K. Amorth †

High Boat Cafe & Catering

Markus Altendorff

Sustenance After Sustenance Has Gone

Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany

September 23rd, 2007 - 19:23 UTC+1

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© 2007 Markus Altendorff, All Rights Reserved.



The topic, "Sustenance", does not have the broad meaning in the german language as it has in english - it only translates into "livelihood", or earning one's living.

The panorama was shot just outside the Maxhuette steel mill at my hometown of Sulzbach-Rosenberg. The pictures imposed on the sky and ground are from around 2002/2003, when the steel mill closed down after 139 years. At the turn of the century and up until the 1960s, it was the largest source of work and income for the whole district, with a workforce of almost 10,000 people depending on it for their sustenance.

In 1987, the Maxhütte, or "the hut", as it was called for short, went bankrupt for the first time. Spending the next three years under receivership, the "Neue Maxhütte" was established in 1990, only to also fail in November 1998. Almost four more years passed under receivership, looking for an investor, until in September 2002 the fires finally went out for good.

It was the only german steel mill that integrated the whole process in a single location, with rarities like OBM converters, old steel frameworks and high power steam engines that have been running since 1863.

These days, despite suggestions of preserving it as a historical monument, sustenance is earned for its current owner by selling parts of it for scrap, slowly eating away at the buildings. Comparing the current panorama with the unrolled 2002 picture (first view), you'll notice towards the sunset a gap where huge conveyors and the storage for manganese and other steel additives stood just a year ago.

While my pano is not a technically ambitious scene, I picked it because there's a soft spot in me for "the hut". Two generations of my family have worked at the mill, and the three visits that I was lucky to be able to make just before it closed down have left me with a lasting impression.


Panorama picture made with Canon EOS 20D, Sigma 8mm, Realviz Stitcher 5.6; Still images composited in Maxon Cinema 4D 10.1

Detailed descriptions for the overlaid pictures

The small panorama strip of the opening view was shot as a 200 degrees view from the World war 1 memorial with a telephoto lens.

Bottom row, to the right of the panorama strip: A worker watches the unloading of the underground railway that transports molten iron to the mixing container. Each "bucket" contains about 20 tons.

Bottom row, opposite of the panorama strip: A bucket of liquid iron is poured into the converter, where oxygen and other gasses are blown through the mass from the bottom, removing or burning any unwanted dirt and turning the iron into steel.

Bottom row, to the left of the panorama strip: a worker in protective reflective clothing pokes into the opening at the bottom of the blast furnace while the glowing slag flows through a groove in the sand behind him.

Bottom row, floor: Two forgotten gloves and several raw steel pieces on a wagon.

Top row, starting with the portrait photo:

A single worker walks through the hall of the electric furnace, with one of the "pans" being emptied in the background. The omnipresent dust of tiny carbon flakes turns the sunlight into white curtains from the rooftop.

Next to the right: A rail being milled into shape.

Next to the right: Noxious gases from the converters being burned, about once every one and a half hours.

Next to the right: The drill has broken through the concrete of the furnace, a shower of sparkles ensues.

Next to the right: The experimental furnace and behind it the storage with its conveyor belt housings, illuminated at night.

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