The News, Unpackaged

"News" is packaged for the audience that receives it. Lightstalkers, a bulletin board for "unconventional travelers," meaning photographers, journalists, aid workers and security professionals among others, offers a fascinating way around the packaging (read their "manifesto").

Want to know what's really happening in the war in Afghanistan? Read Advice for first-time embeds to Afghanistan, which suggests that

"Basically the situation is that the Americans and NATO have reached a military stalemate. NATO are so thinly spread they can only hold the ares they have now and are not push into any of the Taliban safe havens."

And:

"Kandahar is much worse then in 2007. There are no foreigners outside of the military bases and you ARE a target. I did spend a day out of the KAF, it was fun, but I looked a lot like a Pashtu. If you are a women, not using a burka on the streets should call a lot of attentions there, but saying that I know women who did it last year."

(Typos are on the bulletin board. Hey, they're writing from the field.)

Some advice for visitors to Afghanistan, among many, many other things,

"Don’t wear anything synthetic, as in a blast it will melt into skin and make burns much worse."

And:

"Have insurance that covers medical evacuation from afghanistan. The military will stabilize you if you are wounded, (but) after that you are on your own."

Elsewhere on Lightstalkers you'll find suggestions for travel gear, including the Black Animus Waterproof Backpack, Petzl Headlamp with Red Filter and, for uploading those war photos by satellite, the Hughes 9201 Bgan Satellite Modem for around $2500.

Check it out. It's fascinating. The news, unpackaged.

Photo Gadget That Makes a Lot of Sense

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The white balance lens cap: As Photojojo.com says, “if you’ve ever had to fix dozens (or even 100s) of photos with
just slightly different colors, one-by-one, you know the true meaning
of pain.”

So the White Balance Lens Cap promises to properly white-balance every situation you encounter.

Again from the site, “Simply flip your camera into custom White Balance mode, snap a photo
with your White Balance Lens Cap on, and your camera creates a perfect
profile of the actual lighting in front of you.”

From $45 – $65. Here.

We’ll try one and let you know.

Let Me Outta Here!

A week to go until we head out to take pictures. It’s time this weekend to make sure all the paperwork is in order and pack and repack the Case Logic SLR and camera backpack:

111277_1_1 Photo from the Case Logic site.

After a week at our cabin in Finland we’ll travel to Sweden, Ethiopia briefly, then a week in Uganda & Rwanda, including two days of gorilla treks, then a few days on the beach in Oman and, briefly, Dubai, to catch our ride home.

Having invested in substantial new mobile storage, we’ll be shooting almost entirely in RAW for the first time, with a Nikon D200 and Photoshop CS3 in the laptop.

Watch this space for photos.

Big Storage in a Little Box

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Photo via the Lacie web site

Every time we head out on photo trip, we use that as an excuse to invest in some fun new gear. This time, ahead of a trip next month, it’s the very neat Lacie Rugged Hard Disk, packing half a terabyte of Firewire 800-accessible bus-powered storage. It’s a brand new product, first promised for the beginning of June, which finally arrived this week. Our previous, smaller capacity model has worked flawlessly in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, and the increased capacity comes at a negligible cost of maybe an extra one eighth inch of height. Very neat. Unless it fails out on the road, in which case we’ll wail loudly about it here.