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Back in 2008, photographer Larry Towell’s agency, Magnum Photos, had contacted him about a project in Afghanistan that would require him to embed with the British military. Towell, having just completed work in Palestine, decided that he didn’t want to see Afghanistan for the first time with an embed, and instead set forth to see the country on his own. “It was important for me to learn more about the history of Afghanistan to get some perspective about what’s going on today and see if I even had anything to say,” says Towell, who was later awarded a Magnum Emergency Fund to aid his work. From 2008 to 2011, Towell traveled to Afghanistan five times, documenting in both photographs and videos the various social issues that plague its citizens, from drug addiction and poverty to the prevalence of landmines, many of which still remain from the Soviet occupation of the country during the 1980s.

Larry Towell—Magnum

Larry Towell, Afghanistan: Military

Through five harrowing videos (three of which are shown here), Towell gives viewers a comprehensive look at life for citizens inside conflict-riddled Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the photographs from this project are on display for the first time in Larry Towell: Danger and Aftermath at the Museum London in Southwestern Ontario through April 1. “I wanted to look more at the social problems before I looked at what was going on militarily,” the photographer says. “The victims of the war weren’t just people who were wounded. They were the people living in the rural areas who were forced into the cities without means.”

Larry Towell—Magnum

Larry Towell, Afghanistan: Amputees

Towell is now at work with Aperture to turn his pictures into a book by spring 2013. The poignant publication date means Towell’s recent documentation of the country will be on display just as U.S. forces are expected to end their combat role in Afghanistan.

Larry Towell is a Candian photographer represented by Magnum Photos. Larry Towell: Danger and Aftermath is on display through April 1 at the Museum London in Southwestern Ontario. All images, video and sound ©Larry Towell—Magnum.

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Who says you have to go halfway around the world to find gripping images? Craig Walker spent a year covering assignments in Denver, and in between shot an award-winning series on an Marine vet grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Earlier this month, as U.S. and NATO forces lay the groundwork for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan, a serious misstep threatened to disrupt their plans. On February 21, reports surfaced that NATO personnel at Bagram Air Base had burned a number of Korans, which were discovered and saved by locals working at the base. Despite an apology from the Obama administration, and claims by NATO authorities that the burnings had happened inadvertently, violent anti-American demonstrations erupted in several places. Dozens were killed, including four American troops. Two of the Americans were allegedly killed by an Afghan colleague, another in an increasing number of insider attacks. According to the Pentagon, around 70 NATO members have been killed in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 through January 2012. Gathered here are images of the people and places involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. [40 photos]

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter scatters snow as it lands at a remote landing zone in Shah Joy district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on February 8, 2012. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Rasmussen)

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The Afghan box camera—a homemade wooden device known as the kamra-e-faoree, meaning “instant camera”—has been used to preserve memories in Afghanistan for generations. It is part of the local landscape, with street photographers dotting city thoroughfares. It is itself a part of Afghan history, having been briefly banned by the Taliban, but these days, the box camera is in danger of disappearing. Fewer and fewer people know how to make and use the traditional tool, which uses no film but can both capture and develop an image.

Lukas Birk and Sean Foley, an Austrian artist and an Irish ethnographer, respectively, had discovered the box cameras while visiting Afghanistan on research trips. They learned that the devices, which came to the region in the early 20th century, were being replaced by their digital descendants among photographers who could afford it—or lying unused by photographers who couldn’t afford to refill on photographic supplies. The art of the karma-e faoree had been passed down through families, but Birk and Foley thought that this generation was going to be the last.

They were both struck by the importance of the cameras in local history and the poignancy of the medium’s persistence, and were also interested in the potential stories to be told when Afghans were photographed by other Afghans.

But the photographs produced by the cameras were the real draw. “We’re both visual people,” said Birk in an email, “and box camera photography is a feast for the eyes.”

So, in 2011, funded by a Kickstarter project, the two traveled to Afghanistan to begin research on a project about the Afghan box camera. The website they produced from that trip features box-camera tutorials, profiles of itinerant photographers and examples of box-camera photography and traditional hand-tinting from Afghanistan and the surrounding region. But the 2011 trip was not the end of their exploration of the box camera. Birk and Foley have started a Kickstarter page to raise money for another trip to Afghanistan, slated for this spring, with plans to produce a book with the additional material.

“Right now we can still talk about it as a living form of photography, maybe for another couple of years, before it will completely disappear,” Birk said.

Those interested in the box camera technology, which allows the photographers to snap and develop their pictures all at once, can watch a movie about it below. (Birk notes that he is doing his best Werner Herzog impression as the narrator, hoping to evoke the style of vintage ethnographic films.)

Find out more about the Afghan Box Camera project here or donate to the project’s Kickstarter fund here.

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As Myanmar emerges from a half-century of isolation under a dictatorship, President Thein Sein's new civilian government has launched a series of reforms. At the top of the list is the eradication of widespread opium poppy farming. Myanmar produced an estimated 610 tons of opium in 2011, making it the world's second-biggest supplier after Afghanistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In an unusually open gesture, Myanmar officials allowed a Reuters reporter and photographer to visit former conflict areas, hoping they will examine the campaign and help shed Myanmar's image as one of the world's top drug producers. But the eradication process threatens the livelihoods of poor farmers who depend upon opium as a cash crop. With those concerns in mind, and with recent ceasefires ending years of conflict between the government and ethnic insurgents, Myanmar police and United Nations officials are traveling through the countryside to ask farmers what assistance they need. [31 photos]

Policemen and villagers use sticks and grass cutters to destroy a poppy field above the village of Tar-Pu, in the mountains of Shan State, on January 27, 2012. Myanmar has dramatically escalated its poppy eradication efforts since September 2011, threatening the livelihoods of impoverished farmers. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

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Musadeq Sadeq / AP

A child stands with his father as they wait to receive blankets and winter jackets from Welthungerhilfe, a German NGO, during a snow fall at a camp for internally displaced Afghans in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb, 20. 2012. More than 40 people, most of them children, have frozen to death in what has been Afghanistan's coldest winter in years.

By Phaedra Singelis, msnbc.com

Afghanistan is experiencing unusually cold weather and heavy snowfalls which have led to at least 40 deaths.

Hopefully, the weather will improve soon.

See more photos from Afghanistan in our slideshow below.

Slideshow: Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads

Qais Usyan / AFP - Getty Images

More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.

Launch slideshow

Follow @msnbc_pictures

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