National Geographic : 1985 Feb
On Assignment NEVER ONE to report from the sidelines, senior writerPeterT. White got hands-on experience for his article on the poppy by har vesting opium in Pakistan (above). Traveling the world for more than a year, White collect ed various tools used to incise poppies and scrape off opium. "I was prepared for trouble from customs," he says. But he met resistance only while passing through Bulgaria with tra ditional Turkish implements. "I gave them a long explanation, and they finally let me go." White investigated the poppy with an eye on more than drug dealing. "Most stories concen trate on heroin, with hardly a word about the legitimate, positive side of the poppy and how important it is to medicine." A veteran reporter on Southeast Asia and India, White was familiar with much of the poppy's terrain. As a free lance in Mexico in 1950, he covered heroin trafficking in that country. "What struck me going back is that basically the situation hasn't changed. Their poppy-eradication program is a model for the world, but as the enforcement technology improves, growers become more ingenious." Capturing Mexico's anti-poppy program on film was "a technical challenge," says NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC photographer Steve Raymer, who donned a bulletproof vest before flying with helicopter pilots on herbicide spray ing missions in western Mexico (above). To get the shot he envisioned (pages 176-7), Raymer commissioned a special camera mount-an eight-foot-long boom attached to the landing strut. Riding copilot, Raymer triggered the shutter with an infrared activator as the heli copter swooped through mountain ranges. A Wisconsin native, Raymer joined the GEOGRAPHIC in 1972 after serving in the Army in Southeast Asia and as a staff photographer for the WisconsinState Journal.Named Mag azine Photographer of the Year for his 1975 coverage of world hunger, he won an Overseas Press Club award in 1982 for reporting on ille gal wildlife trade. He is currently on leave to study problems of Third World development as a Knight Professional Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.