National Geographic : 1994 Aug
On Assignment Navigating with a Geiger counter, photographer GERD LUDWIG searched for a uranium-waste lagoon rumored to be in Sillamae, Estonia, for this month's article on pollution in the former Soviet Union. "Local offi cials insisted that this place didn't exist," remembers Gerd. "There were no signs, no fences, no gates, nothing to show the direction. Only the ticking of the Geiger counter told us when we were getting close." Before photographing the radio active shore, Gerd (above, at right) and his assistant Maxim Kuznetsov donned respirators, safety coveralls, rubber gloves, and boots. "We always brought lots of our own protective gear," says Gerd, who traveled through nine former Soviet republics for the article, "but in many places, we were asked not to wear it, since the people working on the sites didn't have any them selves. You walk a thin line: You want to be safe but you also need people's trust and cooperation to get the pictures." GERDLUDWIG At Chornobyl's damaged nuclear plant, officials did issue the Los Angeles-based photographer some Ukrainian-style radiation protec tion-a hard hat and a white cotton lab suit. Tested for radiation expo sure upon his return to the United States, Gerd was relieved to get a clean bill of health. - t poured for eight of the ten weeks I spent in the Lake Dis trict," says photographer ANNIE GRIFFITHS BELT. "Listening to the English weather reports on the news was like opening a thesau rus to the word rain: 'Showery bits this evening, later turning to drizzle, followed by downpours and mists.' But I came to love it. The rain is the reason everything there is so green and beautiful." One such green, beautiful place on a rare sunny day-was the hilltop Lowther Estates, a private game park where Annie, clad in camou flage, with hunter Kirk Robertson, captured a roving herd of red deer in her viewing scope. "Deerstalking is a rough, slow business," she says. "You crawl up to a stag on your belly and elbows. You really have to blend into the background and pull your hat low; even a flash of forehead might scare him away." As a journalism student at the University of Minnesota, Annie started out with dreams of a writing career. "Then, my junior year in college, I got a camera," she says. "I switched my major to photogra phy two weeks later." In addition to her work for the GEO GRAPHIC, Annie teaches, lectures, and has contributed photographs to doz ens of books and magazines. NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN 0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBY THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,1145 17THST. N.W., WASHINGTON,D. C. 20036. $21.00 A YEAR,$2.65 A COPY. SECOND-CLASS POSTAGEPAID AT WASHINGTON,D. C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SENDADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O. BOX2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.