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Seeing What's Inside
Photograph by George Steinmetz

A truck with gamma-ray vision (better than x-ray) helps inspection officers examine a cargo container at the Port of Los Angeles—the nation's busiest. "Our top priority is preventing terrorists and weapons of mass destruction from entering the country," says Michael Fleming of the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—a Department of Homeland Security agency that unites the former U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, a section of the Department of Agriculture, and Border Patrol. "Because cargo containers move most of the world's freight, they're extremely high risk," he says. The Port of Los Angeles, one of 118 seaports of entry in the U.S., receives more than 1.8 million containers each year; CBP doesn't have the manpower to inspect them all. "We target high-risk cargo based on where it's coming from, who's shipping it, and other factors," says Fleming. "Of that high-risk cargo, we inspect 100 percent."

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Nikon 8008
Film Type: Fujichrome Velvia 50
Lens: 85mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/2 @ f/4
Weather Conditions: Hazy
Time of Day: Dusk
Lighting Techniques:My remote control for the strobe flash—set to light the passing truck—did not work, so I synchronized the shot with my assistant via walkie-talkie.  When I gave the OK, my assistant set off the flash while I took the photograph from above.

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