During my last volcanological expedition in the Danakil Desert, Ethiopia, organized by Vulcano Esplorazioni (scientific organization which I preside), I had the chance to shot pictures of an amazing area of our Planet: the geothermal area known as Dallol. The area has an elevation of about 130 meters below sea level and it is a big collapsed volcano. The temperature here can reach 60°C. The area has an intense geothermal activity, with numerous toxic gas regularly escaping from the numerous fumaroles and geysers, salt mixed with volcanic minerals such as sulfur. The dazzling colors seen at the site, white, yellow, green and red ocher, are due to the strong presence of sulphur, iron oxide, salt and other minerals. Due to the extreme condition of the site I chose to bring with me two different Manfrotto-Gitzo tripods, but my favourite proved to be the TRAVEL OCEAN, light and easy to handle. I’m really positively impressed by this item, apparently so simple and basic. I stored it on the top of the 4×4 jeep without any protection for hundreds of kilometers, on off-road trails in very poor conditions. I shot in environment full of thin dust, in a salt saturated atmosphere, with huge changes in temperature from day to night. The tripod didn’t suffer even when I placed it in acid pools for few minutes: the water there has a pH value lower than 1, and is full of acids and chemical agents usually deadly for the equipment. I’m really satisfied with it, and even if traditionally compact dimensions are not the best when using the long lenses, it proved to be very reliable and secure anyway.
Let me remember that during our expedition 5 colleagues lost their lives because of an attack by Ethiopian rebels. It is a miracle that I myself and my companions were saved. We’ll remember the lost friends forever.
Marco Carlo Stoppato