31 December 2007

31-December-2007 : So Long 2007

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

31-December-2007 : So Long 2007!

It's been a fun first year for Flying With Fish and discussing airlines, travel and packing for the photographer on the road.

As 2008 approaches in a few hours I am still looking over my plans for the new year change my blog up a little bit. The first change you'll notice? My headlines will no longer have dates in them. Following that, I am planning to post weekly on a regular basis , I'm going to try and add a links post on a regular basis. I am still sorting out how I'll do this, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. The big change? If possible, I am going to try and add some video to my Blog. At first I am probably going to make basic videos on packing equipment and condensing what you need to travel with. From there? Who knows.

2007 saw the birth of my 3rd child Simon, my daughter Lauren turning seven (and you fantastic folks donating to her walk to fund research for Juvenile Diabetes) and my 2nd child Max turning 3 and continuing his obsession with trains. 2007 also was my first round-the-world sprint, where I flew around The Globe one-and-a-half times in 5 days in a single legal carry on backpack. For traveling and packing this year saw my switch from traditional camera bag companies Lowe Pro and Think Tank to hiking focused company Mountainsmith (although I have used the Mountainsmith Tour for years for general shooting). The end of 2007 has seen my decision to primarily leave the Canon 1D series bodies behind for the smaller and lighter Canon 5D series bodies. With smaller batteries, smaller chargers and lighter cameras the trade off in systems should be more beneficial than detrimental.

I started 2007 as a Platinum Elite with both Delta Airlines and US Airways, a United Airlines Premier Executive and a World Perks Gold flyer with Northwest Airlines. As I move into 2008 I know that as of 29-February-2008 I'll be left with my status as Gold (highest tier) on BMI (British Midlands International) and Gold (just below highest tier) on Air France/KLM. Why is this? Simple, I spent much of 2007 flying around using frequent flyer miles and flight vouchers from bumped seats. When you use miles or get bumped you accrue no miles. Some of my travel was also in conjunction with photographing for an airline, when they buy the tickets, you get no miles.

So from starting the year as an elite with four U.S. airlines and ending the year as an elite on two European airlines, there have been some changes in my travel habits. I hope to document these travels and continue to bring all of you the information that can make your traveling easier throughout 2008.

Coming up in early January I'll continue to address the new U.S. restrictions on flying with Lithium batteries. I will also be testing out a new ultra compact tripod that should take up virtually no space in your bag.

Love to say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the next? You can celebrate New Years all over again with me during the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop, Feb 5 to Feb 8 when we'll fly over to Hong Kong to shoot the Chinese New Year! Feel free to check out this workshop at www.comeflywithfish.com
Limited seats are still available

If anyone has any suggestions for topics or any questions please, as always, feel free to drop me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Happy Flying and a Happy and a Healthy New Year!


30 December 2007

30-December-2007 : Don't Want To Be Hassled About Your Batteries Under The New U.S. Restrictions For Flying With Batteries? Here Is A Simple Solution

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

30-December-2007 : Don't Want To Be Hassled About Your Batteries Under The New U.S. Restrictions For Flying With Batteries? Here Is A Simple Solution

With the new guidelines for flying with Lithium/Li-Ion batteries going into affect for U.S. flyers on 1-January-2008 (29-December-2007 : The New Question - Can I Bring This Battery On Board?), I have been thinking long and hard over the past two days how to avoid any potential confusion and conflict when passing through the airport security screening check points with a backpack carrying half-a-dozen batteries.

The only verification system the TSA will have in place is to have TSA Agent-Screeners read battery labels. By clearly labeling your batteries in a simple and clear way, you should speed up the process of having your bags inspected and cleared. With the help of a friend, I have created a label that will be easily recognizable and identifiable by TSA screeners to identify batteries that are not on the "restricted list."

These labels will come in one, potentially two, easy sizes that can be affixed to any commonly used battery. I am in no way endorsing photographers using these labels incorrectly to mislabel their batteries.

If you are interested in the following labels for your batteries drop me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Happy Flying!

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30-December-2007 : Some Items That Make Traveling Just A Bit Easier

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

30-December-2007 : Some Items That Make Traveling Just A Bit Easier

This post is a following up to my post on my "Staying Organized.........Three Essential Items." This post is not essential items, it is simply about some things I travel with that make my life a little bit easier on the road.

I like gadgets as much as the next person. I like to play with gadgets, new toys and things that light up for no reason, but when I pack, I pack for efficiency, size and weight. If it's cool but does not have a practical purpose and just takes up space it's out.

The following are a few items which often seem to find their way into my bag when I'm on the road.

1) Who needs a travel clock? Not me. For years I have been using a small, light, always reliable Motorola Advisor Elite pager as my travel alarm-clock. My pager has not had wireless service for years, but I tend to prefer this over my mobile phone when on the road. Most of the the time I keep my mobile phone set to my "home" rather than resetting it to local time. Since I do not reset my phone, I have no problem resetting my pager to local time. More important to me is the alarm on the Motorola Advisor Elite, it is loud and can wake the dead. Now when you are jet lagged, dead tired and have to be up 3 hours after you land what do you want? You guessed it, an alarm that can wake the dead. You can often find a Motorola Advisor Elite on eBay for less than $10.

2) When packing my bags I have always had trouble keeping my cords and small items organized. I have tried ZipLock bags, but they rip. I have tried small pouches, but often airport security makes me open them and empty them and then it's just a waste of my time. My solution to this was to purchase the Think Tank Cable Management 10 case (http://thinktankphoto.com/ttp_product_CblMngmnt.php). The Cable Management 10 usually holds my CF card reader, iPod, USB cords, iPod charging cord, power supply for an Apple MacBook or PowerBook, international power conversion tips and other random small items. The case comes with elastic zip-ties to keep your cables together, it is make of a durable, flexible and clear plastic that will take the abuse of travel and still allow airport security to see through the case so they don't ask you to open it. At under US$15.00 it's a great tool for packing more effectively.

3) Don't like the paper thin pillows on the plane? What's that, your airline no longer has pillows? Yep, some of my preferred airlines got rid of pillows too! While browsing a Brookstone store a few years ago I stumbled upon the Tempur-Pedic 3-in-1 Travel Neck Pillow (http://3in1pillow.notlong.com ) and found it to be an amazing travel companion. This pillow is incredibly comfortable and durable. Once rolled up in it's travel case it fits into my backpack, usually stuffed just on top of my Canon 70-200f2.8. Because it is Tempur-Pedic pillow it can be crushed, rolled, squeezed and shoved into almost any carry on bag with very little space. The pillow is well worth the US$80.00 and can save you a lot of neck and back pain when your cramped into your airline seat for a long flight or while taking a nap on the airport floor when you're delayed.

4) I am not a huge tripod fan. Let's face it tripods are impossible to pack for carry on, and awkward to walk around with. I use a tripod when I need a tripod, but often they are left behind and I am left wishing I had a tripod. My solution to this problem was the Gitzo Gitzo 0012 Compact Tripod with Gitzo G1277M compact ball head. While the Gitzo 0012 was replaced with the GT-0530, I still prefer the 0012. The 0012 is more compact and easier to pack. The Gitzo G1277M head is still available and a great head on a compact tripod or a standard tripod. If you can find the 0012 Compact Tripod, pick one up (the replacement tripod is around US$370 with no head!). I am exploring a few ultra-compact tripods, but for now I have enjoyed this tripod for general landscapes, night time long exposures and even with tilt-shift lenses when shooting architecture. I generally stick this tripod in my Pelican 1514 case and then attach it to my Mountainsmith Tour pack as I shoot.

5) We all wish we had a macro lens at times, but many photogs don't carry them in their bags to save space or weight. For a long time I gave up my macro because I figured I really didn't have a use for one. Not to long ago I became annoyed with myself and my lack of a macro lens on a few shoots. My solution was purchasing two Canon EF12/EF12II Extension Tubes. The 12mm Tube (Canon EF12) is for wide angle lenses while the 25mm tube (EF25) is for lenses longer than 50mm. To avoid having one long tube and one short tube , I made my own all purpose kit and just travel with two Canon EF12 tubes stacked. If I am using a wider lens I use one EF12 tube, if I am using a longer lens I use both tubes stacked together. This was not only more cost effective, but it takes up less space in my bag and makes my set up more versatile for my shooting set up and style. At US$80 for the EF12 (and US$130 for the EF25) it is a very cost effective and space effective way to always keep a macro on you

Happy Flying!

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29 December 2007

29-December-2007 : The New Question - Can I Bring This Battery On Board?

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

29-December-2007 : The New Question - Can I Bring This Battery On Board?

Yesterday, the 28th of December 2007, a simple press release was sent out by the the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. On most days none of us know who the the US DOT PHMSA is, and most days we don't care. Yesterday however photographers all over the United States were reading the new rules set down by the US DOT PHMSA on www.safetravel.dot.gov and on news sites.

Why does the US DOT PHMSA now affect us? Because they released a new set of rules that may directly our ability to carry spare batteries on-board aircraft while traveling with our camera equipment. On the surface the rules that go into affect on 1-January-2008 look like this

From: http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html
- Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
- You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage
- You may bring spare lithium batteries with you in carry-on baggage
- Even though we recommend carrying your devices with you in carry-on baggage as well, if you must bring one in checked baggage, you may check it with the batteries installed.

The following quantity limits apply to both your spare and installed batteries. The limits are expressed in grams of “equivalent lithium content.” 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours:

- Under the new rules, you can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All lithium ion batteries in cell phones are below 8 gram equivalent lithium content. Nearly all laptop computers also are below this quantity threshold.
- You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold. Examples of two types of lithium ion batteries with equivalent lithium content over 8 grams but below 25 are shown below.
- For a lithium metal battery, whether installed in a device or carried as a spare, the - Almost all consumer-type lithium metal batteries are below 2 grams of lithium metal. But if you are unsure, contact the manufacturer!

The full text of details from the US DOT PHMSA can be found here : http://www.USDOTPHMSA.notlong.com

OK, there are some huge loop holes in this new rule and there is potential for a huge problem for TSA Agent-Screeners at check points who are not trained to differentiate battery types or "gram weights" of Lithium in batteries. The TSA Agents get knocked all the time, but they really do have a hard job and this just makes the job harder and potentially more confusing for the regulations they must enforce.

The ban only technically applies to "extended life" lithium batteries, such as those for "professional" audio/video/photo equipment. The batteries sited are between 8 grams and 25 grams of lithium. If you look at he 3rd party PB511A 1800 Mah batteries they have only 0.98 grams of Lithium, well under the allowed amounts of Lithium in weight allowed on board for spare batteries.

For those with the Canon 20D/30D/40D/5D or Nikon D200/D300 bodies, these are considered consumer and prosumer bodies, and would not qualify as "professional photo equipment" with the US DOT PHMSA's new ruling for flying with spare batteries.

A spare EN-L4 or PB511A is also not considered to be an "extended life" battery by the manufacturer, this should also, in theory, exempt it from the US DOT rules.

Of course the problem , as always, is dealing with under trained TSA Agent-Screeners at the check points. These people are not qualified to make the decisions they are forced to make at the check points in regard to what is 'extended life" vs "standard equipment", what is "professional" vs "consumer" (your Canon 5D and PowerShot G6 use the same battery, remember that). How will a TSA Agent-Screener determine what is a Li-Ion vs NiMH onsite? If they determine Li-Ion how will they determine the amount of grams of Lithium in the battery on-site?

To avoid any problems or confusion at security check points, I will be removing all the hard to decipher OEM stickers from my camera batteries (currently NP-E3 Ni-MH batteries), much like how the 3rd party Black Diamond batteries are shipped. In the place of the OEM stickers I will be placing on a printed label that simply reads this "NiMH - FAA/DOT Compliant For Air Travel." This should cut down on the problems you may face flying with batteries as of 1-January-2008.

I also strongly suggest printing out the info from the DOT and bringing it with you. Why? Yo may need to remind over zealous screeners that this new rule ONLY affects Lithium Batteries and that it should only affect (in theory) Extended Life Spare Batteries.

Your NiMH rechargeable AA batteries for your flash? They are not affected at all, pack 100 if you want. If you use Energizer Lithium batteries, ditch them and pick up some NiMH batteries instead.

Happy Flying

28 December 2007

28-December-2007 : A Few Links For Wandering Photogs

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

28-December-2007 : A Few Links For Wandering Photogs

As a traveler I do a lot of research. I research for my trips and I often do research for other people as well, both photogs and non-photogs alike. As I research trips, ranging from seat preference to visa requirements, I refer to a few web sites. Some of these web sites are nuts-n-bolts factual web sites and others are portals to a host of links that can be very helpful.

When I start my research I often first refer to two web sites, Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) and Tourist Click (www.touristclick.com).

Lonely Planet is an incredible resource on traveling. You can find general information on every country you could travel to. You'll find maps, information on governments, electrical power, currency, language and an overview of the area you are traveling to. This site is almost always my first stop in my quest for information.

Tourist Click is a site that links to hundreds of other specific web sites. While searching this site can be a bit tiring to navigate, the wealth of information that can be found via Tourist Click is great. The site has started to add travel blogs to the site, these provide a new depth to the information available and a more personalized view of some of the information you may be looking for.

While there are many (MANY!) sites out there I have a short list of first stops and these two are often my first stops before moving into more specific sites as I narrow down the information I need for my research.

Happy Flying!

27 December 2007

27-December-2007 : No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop : 5-Feb to 8-Feb 2008 : Limited Seats Still Available!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

27-December-2007 : No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop : 5-Feb to 8-Feb 2008 : Limited Seats Still Available!

As February 5th approaches there are a few remaining seats for the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop available, from February 5th to February 8th 2008.

This is your opportunity to take a few days off to push yourself in a whole new direction as a photographer. Whether you are a professional who is seeking to streamline your travel skills or hobbyist seeking to learn a whole new set of skills and test your photographic abilities, there is something for everyone in the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop.

This workshop instruction starts a few weeks prior to the workshop, and the begins with a 6,383 mile flight to Hong Kong, the hands on instruction begins at 30,000 feet and the practical in the field shooting begins with your body clock backwards and a one-and-a-half day sprint to overcome challenges and produce images of The Chinese New Year, in the streets of Hong Kong, China.

During the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop you will learn the following

- Learn to pack what you need rather than what you want, packing within specific guidelines

- Learn to work through jet lag and physical body clock obstacles to complete assignments. Learning how to "get in and get out" saves you time and money as a photographer and can allow you to maximize your time and make yourself potentially more attractive to clients

- Learn to quickly sort out and plan shoot logistics to maximize your shooting day potential when working in a constrained time frame

- Learn to juggle multiple daily assignment deadlines, such as those facing not only editorial photographers, but also public relations and corporate communications photographers

- Learn to asses and rapidly overcome potential obstacles to ensure you can deliver your images to your clients, regardless of what stands in your way

- Learn to look past the adventure (and the adventure is always worth the trip!) to focus on producing images that not only meet your assignments but that also visually satisfy you.

The fee for the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop Is
- US$2,200* in Economy Class

- US$3,200* in Business Class (includes access to airport lounge, showers, in-seat power, priority check in & more comfort on the 13 hour flight)

Costs include airfare from Vancouver to Hong Kong, private transportation while in Hong Kong (to and from hotel) , instruction & logistics.

*Costs based on special seat fare costs and may be subject to change depending on seat availability

If you are interested in more information please visit www.comeflywithfish.com/hongkong or drop me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Happy Flying!

27-December-2007 : Show The World Where You're Coming From............Show The World Where You've Been!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

27-December-2007 : Show The World Where You're Coming From............Show The World Where You've Been!

OK, fellow photog, fellow former news photographer, fellow Connecticut resident Seshu Badrinath (www.seshu.net) must be having a lot of free time during the holiday season because he is just finding subjects for me to write about this week here on Flying With Fish!

Today Seshu sent me a link to some of the coolest total flyer nerd clothing available out there, Hub Wear (www.hubwear.com). Hub Wear has a cool little interface that allows you to customize your own "route shirts" The front of the shirt has where you're coming from and headed to, the back lists the return route.

The shirts only have point to point routes, not full routes, but I guess it would be lengthy for a shirt to have
(the route I have flown most in the past 3 years)

From New York and like to get away, take a holiday from the neighbourhood. Maybe Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood? (Thank you Billy Joel)
Why not JFK-FLL (Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport)?

The most common single flight I take now is one I refuse to put on a shirt, HVN-PHL / PHL-HVN , I am not putting the Philadelphia International Airport on my shirt! Great city, but wow that airport needs some serious help.

Anyway, show some pride in your home airport and the airport you frequent most!

Happy Flying!

25 December 2007

25-December-2007 : Staying Organized.......Three Essential Items

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

25-December-2007 : Staying Organized.......Three Essential Items

I will be the first to admit it, I am about as organized as a trailer park after a tornado has dropped down in the middle of it. The upside to this is that I know I am disorganized and I actively try and organize the essential parts of my life. First off, I know where my kids sleep and where the food is to feed them in the morning when we get up. The second things is that I am obsessive about packing and labeling all of my equipment , from lens caps and CF cards right up through my bodies and lenses. The third thing I am organized about, and getting better about organizing, is my calendar , my travel receipts and my notes for traveling.

The last organizational area on list is probably of the most interest to you people reading Flying With Fish , so I'll skip the obsessive packing rituals at the moment......and chances are you don't care where I keep the cereal to feed the kids in the morning (it's on top of the fridge if you must know).

When I travel and I find there have become three essential items I use to make sure I know all the information about my trip, make sure I have all my receipts in one place making taxes easier and to ensure I can write down much of the information I share on this Blog and when any of you ask me a question.

The first essential item is the Moleskine (www.moleskine.com) , and is the Moleskine Memo Pocket. The Memo Pocket has six small card board pockets in this pocket size mini book. The Memo Pocket is easy to carry at 3.5"x5.5" (9cm x14cm). In this small set of pockets you can drop credit card receipts, boarding passes, or anything else you desire. At US$10.00 the Italian Made (French inspired) Moleskine Memo Pocket is a real essential.

Below are two photos of my new Memo Pocket.

The second essential is also by Moleskine Sketch Book. Moleskine makes a dozen different style notebooks that were once used by Van Gogh, Hemmingway, Oscar Wilde and others throughout France. At an easy to carry 3.5"x5.5" (9cm x14cm) they take up a little space (and when I pace space, every inch, in precious to me) this is the easiest way I have to copy all my information down. My note book has seat preferences for various airlines, notes on airports, notes on airline lounges, notes on things I see as I travel. While much of this info is in my head, it is much easier to write it down and refer to my notebook later. Note books range from US$7.00 and go up, some come as single books, others in three packs.

Below are two photos of my Moleskine Sketch Book......for those trying to figure out the page of text, it is my seating preferences for Delta Airlines Fleet and for those trying to figure out the 'code' on the page it is easy "F" at the start of a line = First Class ; "Y" after a thick darkened dash = Economy Class ; "J" at the start of a line = Business Class.

The third item on my essentials list is the most expensive, with many less expensive alternatives, but it is an item that I would be lost with out, my Louis Vuitton (www.louisvuitton.com) Small Ring Agenda. We went from two inexpensive Italian made an French inspired to just French made and expensive. While I write my schedule down on m computer, I have found that copying my schedule into my agenda helps member remember dates and times better, also it is easier to pull the agenda and out a write sometimes that to pull a whole laptop out and start typing. When I have an appointment or a job it goes in the agenda almost immediately , this prevents any mix up in my schedule. The front page has three credit card/business card slot, and also a large slot that you can slide your passport into when traveling. You can get a calendar in a day at a glance or a week at a glance, I like a week at a glance, this lets me see the big picture much faster and it also keeps the agenda thinner. At 4"x6" (10.1cm X 15.2cm) the agenda is small enough to pack 90% of the time and I usually make space for it. At US$275 you can find much more affordable agendas, I like this one as it is very durable, the binder rings are very strong and the set up meets my needs.

Below are two photos of my agenda.

Happy Flying!

18-December-2007 : To Register Or Not To Register That Is The Question! Should You Be A Registered Traveler?

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

18-December-2007 : To Register Or Not To Register That Is The Question! Should You Be A Registered Traveler?

The subject of the "Registered Traveler" system comes up often among those who travel in the United States and even those who don't travel often but are looking for a way to travel through the airport faster. This subject recently came up again about a week ago from a photographer friend of mine Seshu Badrinath (www.seshu.net), who lives just up the road from me in Connecticut.

I remember being approached about the Registered Traveler Pilot Program a number of years ago while traveling through Washington DC's Reagan National Airports (DCA) and thinking that the system was a huge invasion of my privacy. I am not a conspiracy theory person and I don't believe that there are black helicopters that hover over my house, however I do like to keep my private information........well private; nevertheless I was not totally turned off to this new emerging concept.

As I have increased my travel I have revisited the idea of using the Registered Traveler Program, even at the risk of giving up a scan of my retina, a copy of my finger prints and giving up US$100 per year for the privilege of a speedier journey through the airports security lines.

As I weight the pros and cons or what the system I get caught up in certain details that I find important.

1) I don't find the security lines all that irritating. Most days the wait is 15 minutes if there is no "elite" security line, and honestly I only see the Registered Traveler Program as something useful for heavy frequent fliers who would have access to the "elite" security lines when they are present.

2) The Registered Traveler Program is limited a very small number of airports. For me only one of the five "local" (within 100 miles of my house) airports I look at has the program, and that one airport does not have it in all terminals. Only one of the airports I travel through with any frequency has the program, and they offer elite security lines which I have access to.

3) Right now the front runner for the Registered Traveler Program is Clear, www.flyclear.com . The only airports that have Clear Lanes are
Albany, NY (ALB)
Cincinnati, OH (CVG)
Denver, CO (DEN)
Indianapolis, IN (IND)
Jacksonville, FL (JAX) ........expected soon
Little Rock, AK (LIT)
Newark, NJ (EWR)........NOT at all security check points
New York (JFK & LGA) .....but only NOT at all terminals
Orlando, FL (MCO)
Reno, NV (RNO) .......expected shortly
San Francisco, CA (SFO)
San Jose, CA (SJC)
White Plains, NY (HPN)

For me the only airport I would actually use Registered Traveler for would be at JFK's Terminal 7, which is used by United Airlines and Air Canada (and British Airways, however I don't tend to fly British Airways). While I fly through SFO often, they have dedicated Elite Lines which I will continue to have access to through my status with BMI (BD)while flying United Airlines (UA), US Airways (US) and any other Star Alliance (*A) carrier in SFO.

I am sure I may reevaluate this again the future when the Registered Traveler Program expands beyond a group of airports that make up less than 1% of the commercial airports in the United States. As for now, I don't see my three primary airports, New Haven (HVN), Providence (PVD) or Hartford/Springfield (BDL) having the Registered Traveler Program in place any times soon (although who would have though White Plain (HPN) or Albany (ALB) would have had it at this point?)

Happy Flying!

11-December-2007 : Feeling Helpless? We Need A Passengers Bill Of Rights!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

11-December-2007 : Feeling Helpless? We Need A Passengers Bill Of Rights!

As passengers we know unfortunately that we are at the whim of the airlines. Whether you fly once a year or you often fly three times a day, once that door shuts and you pull away from the gate, you are at the whim and mercy of the airline.

As passengers we need need and deserve a Passengers Bill of Rights in the United States and in fact in every country. As a citizen of the U.S. I can only vote in the U.S., thus I can only try and try and help push for a U.S. Passengers Bill of Rights.

If you feel frustrated by being stranded on a plane on the ramp for a few hours or by airlines turning a blind eye and saying "Sorry it was an operational error" then you should sign the petitions that are currently being circulated to form a legal Passengers Bill of Rights!

Below are a few links to take a look at

The Coalition For An Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights

Sign The Coalition For An Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights Petition

Stranded Passengers Blog

The Travel Insider's Four Part Article On The Passenger Bill of Rights

JetBlue's Customer/Passenger Bill of Rights (it isn't perfect but it is a start!)

For my neighbours up in the Great White North, you can learn about the PIAC's Airline Passenger Bill of Rights here:

Being stranded can be frustrating. You can do something about you! You can contact your Member of Congress in Washington D.C. and tell them that you fully support the passing of a Passengers Bill of Rights!

Happy Flying!

24 December 2007

3-December-2007 : Travel Logistics - Departing Prepared

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

3-December-2007 : Travel Logistics - Departing Prepared

Let's face it, planning your journey can be more stressful than the actual journey. I know I can spend a week carefully laying out the logistics of a trip that will only last one-to-three days.

When planning your travel for either work or pleasure there can be many factors to look at to ensure everything goes smoothly and as planned. Some basics you should make an outline for are below

1) Know your dates:

This is obvious I know, but you have to start somewhere

2) Decide if your dates are fixed or flexible:

If your dates are flexible you may be able to find less expensive air fares by +/- 5 days. Sometimes leaving a day early can save a few hundred dollars, but then you need to decide if that extra day saves you money working or will you be losing money on an extra night in a hotel.

3) Decide if you are flying to save time or to save money:

Sometimes when we travel we can spare a few hours to save money and sometimes when we travel we need to arrive by a certain time or there is not point to the traveling. With this in mind you need to decide how you want to travel.

For example if you want to fly from Washington's Dulles (IAD) to London's Heathrow (LHR), you can fly it non-stop for $875 (example air fare) and you'd arrive by 6:55am to start your day and shoot a job by mid-day.......... or.............you can fly from IAD to LHR via Toronto's Pearson Airport (YYZ) for $650 and arrive by 9:55am. This three hour difference may affect your ability to shoot your job if you are on a tight schedule or if you have a more flexible schedule you could simply just save $225. Only you know if you want to save time or if you want to save money.

4) Know if you have alternate airports you should look at for routings or cost savings:

Knowing your alternate airports, if there are any, can be a great way to find lower fares or more direct flights. My home airport, New Haven Connecticut (HVN) only has five flights per day and all five flights only fly to Philadelphia (PHL). With such a limiting home airport, I often look to Providence Rhode Island (PVD) or Hartford/Springfield's Bradley Airport (BDL) and at times I expand my search to New York's JFK and Boston Logan for international travel. By primarily looking at three airports and expanding to five airports that I can easily get to, I not only find more direct flights, but I can save hundreds of dollars at times.

A good example of this was a flight I needed to take to Tokyo (NRT). Both BDL and PVD are an hour from my house, so I look at them equally. My flight to NRT was $1,300 from PVD but the same exact routing, except the initial flight with the same departure time, was only $850 from BDL! Identical travel times for me with a $450 savings!

5) If you have defined travel date deadlines know your "escape routes" to get you where you need to go with alternative routings:

If you are on a tight travel schedule having defined escape routes can be very important. An escape route is when you need to leave your destination for another destination (home or another job) and you need to arrive reasonably on time.

If you are flying a red-eye flight on either United Airlines (UA) or American Airlines (AA) from Los Angeles (LAX) to Boston (BOS) via Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and ORD is closed or operating on a five hour delay you need to start exploring your other options.

Who else flies these routes? You'd need to keep on you a list of options, such as United via Denver (DEN) or Washington Dulles (IAD) ; Delta (DL) via Atlanta (ATL) or Cincinnati (CVG); Northwest (NW) via Minneapolis (MSP) or Detroit (DTW). You also need to know some alternatives may not exist, such as Southwest Airlines (WN) does not fly red-eye flights. Knowing your way out can be costly, but it can also save you and a job when on a tight schedule.

6) Know the likely hood of delays for the season you are traveling:

Knowing your travel delay potential can cut down on frustration. If you are flying from Paris (CDG) to San Francisco (SFO) a common routing is through Chicago O'Hare (ORD) on two major U.S. Carriers (UA/AA) and their Star Alliance (*A)and One World (OW) partners. ORD is prone to winter delays and missed connections due to weather. When flying between November and March you might want to look into flying direct or flying through alternate airports, such as New York's JFK, Atlanta (ATL), or even flying down and through Houston (IAH) and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). Looking for better options, before a delay happens can save you some headaches. I am not saying avoid ORD as this post might suggest, it is a great airport that can get you anywhere in the world, I have just been subject to closings and delays one to many times in my travels.

7) If you are traveling internationally know if you need a visa:

Simple....Know If You Need A Visa! You may need a visa to enter a country, find this out wellin advance to same time, money, headache and the risk of being denied entry. Also find out if you need a visa to transit through a country. You cannot transit through China (except Hong Kong, although check the rules for your Nationality & Passport) without a visa, they will not let you change planes in Beijing (PEK), Guangzhou (CAN) or Shanghai (PVG) without a visa. China and other countries do not allow for any visa-upon-entry, you need it before you arrive! Know this....Know this.....Know this about your journey!

8) Find out the carry on restrictions for both the country you are traveling AND any country you may be transiting through:

Forget airline restrictions, not all countries have the same carry on regulations. Some allow more size or weight; some allow one piece of carry on plus a personal item; some allow one piece of carry on and no personal item. You do not want to be caught in this trap!

For example, if you are flying Air New Zealand (NZ) from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG) via London Heathrow (LHR)......or the reverse of HKG to LAX via LHR.......you can easily board the flight with one legal carry on bag and an additional personal item. No one will stop you, smooth sailing! Once you get off in LHR to catch the continuing flight the gate staff will tell you you that under UK regulations you are limited to one carry on bag only and that you must either consolidate your bags or check one bag. For photographers that can be a disaster. You'd think it would be easy as you are not even leaving security or the airport, but this happens to anyone flying through the UK. Flying British Airways (BA) from Toronto (YYZ) to Frankfurt (FRA) via LHR, you never even leave Terminal 4, but you will be snagged and forced to check your carry on bag or personal item if you can't shove all the contents into one legal carry on bag.

Flying Emirates(EK) from anywhere to anywhere is the same as flying through the UK. EK allows for one carry on bag only, even if you are flying in first class.

Save the headache, know all this up front!

With this basic information you can plan even the most complex trip easily. The more information you have available to you the smoother the journey, the more relaxed you are to arrive with a clear mind and ready to get to work!

Interested in learning how to travel quickly, effectively and how to handle the the touch choices we make as photographers traveling with tight restrictions? Come fly with me at February 5th to February 8th during the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop! www.comeflywithfish.com

Happy Flying!


28 November 2007

28-November-2007 : "Is There An Abbreviated Around The World No Jet Lag Workshop?" OK, Because You Asked For It!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

28-November-2007 : "Is There An Abbreviated Around The World No Jet Lag Workshop?" OK, Because You Asked For It!

"Is There An Abbreviated Come Fly With Fish Workshop?" I think I have received this question more than a dozen times in the last week. I know many people are interested in my around the world No Jet Lag Workshop, but they cannot spend two weeks flying around the world. I also know many people cannot afford the costs of the around the world journey.

To accommodate this constant question I have devised a quick 3.5 day "No Jet Lag Primer Course." At the moment I am looking at February 5th to February 8th departing from Vancouver, BC (YVR). Why Feb 5 to Feb 8? Why Vancouver? Because this quick course is going to be non-stop coverage of the Chinese New Year in the streets of Hong Kong!

There are few events that are as bright, bustling, loud vibrant and exciting as the Chinese New Year! The thousands of years of culture, the colours and the pageantry are unrivaled. The best part? You'll be in the middle of this visual cornucopia!

For this workshop participants will be under strict packing guidelines. You will be forced to chose your gear and accessories wisely. You will be limited to one smaller sized legal carry on bag, one you may potentially need to haul for long periods of time while shooting. I will provide detailed instruction and guidance before the departure to make sure you have it all down perfectly.

For this journey we will land a few short hours before the official start of the New Year, which will force you to deal with a tremendous challenge. Your body clock will be almost exactly backward from your home time zone (depending on where you live) and you will need to arrive , drop your bag and go straight to work. This is a huge challenge, it may sound easy, but you'll be on your feet and taking in all the sights and sounds and fast paced action as your body wants to rest. This is natural, but you'll need to overcome it. You will learn to force yourself to rest when possible and how to stay up, awake and keep working through this period.

Throughout our time in Hong Kong you will learn how to handle quick ground logistics and how to quickly asses situations in foreign languages (although many folks in Hong Kong speak English). You will be handed a mix of "general assignments" and "business assignments" with real time deadlines. Coupled with these deadlines is the "drop deadline," this is the time you must absolutely stop working to make your flight. We can all be 15 minute late delivering a photo, even on a tight deadline, but if you miss your "drop deadline" you miss your flight, and that's just not allowed to happen (I won't let it happen).

There will be plenty of one-on-one instruction prior to our departure from YVR. There will be some instruction during the flight over, plenty of guidance and instruction once in Hong Kong and critique, Q&A and plenty of sleeping on the way home.

At this time a minimum of four participants is required to get this No Jet Lag Primer Course off the ground. There is a maximum of eight spots for this workshop.

Costs, if booked before Dec 15th, will be
- US$3,200* in BusinessClass (suggested for access to lounge, showers, in-seat power, priority check in & more comfort on the 13 hour flight)

- US$2,200* in EconomyClass

Costs include airfare from Vancouver to Hong Kong, private transportation while in Hong Kong (to and from hotel) , instruction & logistics.

*Costs based on special seat fare costs and may be subject to change depending on seat availability

If you are interested let me know by dropping me an e-mail to fish@flyingwithfish.com

Happy Flying!

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27 November 2007

27-November-2007: "I Need To Travel In One Light Weight Legal Carry On Bag, Pack Two Lights And I Hate Backpacks"

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

27-November-2007: "I Need To Travel In One Light Weight Legal Carry On Bag, Pack Two Lights And I Hate Backpacks"

Following my Blog entry about packing a full kit of gear and lights in one single carry on bag (The All In One Camera, Lights, Computer Carry On Bag) I received an e-mail that started with this : "I Need To Travel In One Light Weight Legal Carry On Bag, Pack Two Lights And I Hate Backpacks."

The reader of my blog went on to tell me there is no way to create a kit that will allow them to carry two lights, two stands, other lighting gear, a minimum of two bodies, five lenses, laptop and other related accessories and still meet the British Airport Authority (BAA) size and weight restrictions. In one way the person is right, you cannot pack this in one legal carry on when departing from most of the BAA airports (some airports are more relaxed than others), however you can create a complete kit that will travel in two bags, legal carry on from the vast majority or departure points, and that will protect your lights completely while departing from BAA airports.

Aside from flying from BAA airports, some airlines have a single carry-on restriction. This allows for one carry on NOT one carry on and one personal item. Singapore Airlines often enforces this, as does Emirates, obviously any flight departing the UK, and some other Euro and Asian based carriers.

My answer to this packing problem is obviously a two bag system. The bodies, batteries and lenses go in the old reliable Domke F-805 while the lights go in my often mentioned, and highly versatile, Pelican 1514 (http://Pelican1514Case.notlong.com).

The Domke F-805 looks like a basic laptop bag, it is small, designed long before photogs used laptops daily and will never get a second glance from anyone at the gate causing then to weight it. Should someone ask to weight it, you simply remove your laptop, take out the two bodies, stick a lens on each body, sling them on your shoulders, then weigh it. Why do you do this? No airline counts cameras on your shoulders as carry on or personal items, and the laptop being removed is for the safety and security of your laptop. Personally I have never had anyone give my heavily loaded F-805 second look or challenge me on it being a "personal item," in any airport or in any country. The unassuming profile of the bag is great because when I pull out the Domke F-805 it is often loaded heavily with two or three bodies, 5 to 8 lenses, a flash or two, a laptop (at times two), batteries, chargers, emPower inverters, etc. I have traveled through one of the most difficult airports, London Heathrow (LHR), with this bag loaded to the brim and it has never been pulled aside to be weighed by any airline staff or airport official.

One of the beauties of the F-805 is that is looks deceptively small while actually being quite deep and able to haul a lot of gear, including longer lenses like the 400f5.6.

For the most part I have moved away from shoulder bags after having had major surgery on my right shoulder in 2002. I now primarily use backpacks, but I still do love the Domke F-805, I miss using my Domke F-2 and my Domke F-802 is my favourite briefcase............................but the person who sent me the e-mail that got this entry rolling stated that they hated to use backpacks.

For packing lights, I reconfigure my Pelican 1514 to haul my portable lighting kit. I use the Pelican at times when traveling out on Turbo Prop Flights (my home airport, HVN, is only served by 5 flights per day, all 5 are on Dash 8 Turbo Props, http://USDash8.notlong.com) I also pack this way when traveling through the UK.

When traveling to or through the UK, I will depart for the UK with both bags, and on my return out of the UK I can safely check my lighting kit with no fear of it being damaged. If you choose your lighting kit wisely, sticking with shoe-mount flash units you can pack an astounding amount of gear in this small little, light weight, legal carry on!

Below is a list of what gets packed in the Domke F-805 when I use this bag
2 - Canon 1D series bodies
1 - Canon 14f2.8L
1 - Canon 24f3.5L TS-E (tilt-shift)
1 - Canon 24f1.4L
1 - Canon 50f1.4 USM
1 - Canon 85f1.2L
1 - Canon 16-35f2.8L
1 - Canon 70-200f2.8
1 - Modified Holga Lens (to fit EOS mount)
1 - Canon 580ex Speedlight
3 - Lens Hoods off of lenses (16-35f2.8, 24f1.4, 24f3.5)
4 - Canon 1D batteries
1 - Canon 1D battery charger (not pictured)
1 - ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket (CF Card wallet with 10CF cards)
1 - Canon Off-Camera ETTL Cord
1 - Lexar CF Card Reader
1 - USB Cord
1 - Compact International Power-Tip Adapter
1 - Apple Power Supply
1 - Apple MacBook

Not pictured in the photos below are an iPod, headsets, sleeve of DVDs , APC emPower in-seat power inverter, magazines. I know I should have pulled them out to shoot them, but I shot it late at night, after having put my kids to sleep and I was tired.

Below is a list of what gets packed in the Pelican 1514
2 - Nikon SB-28dx Speedlights
2 - Bogen 3373 Compact Lightstands
2 - Pocket Wizard Receivers
1 - Pocket Wizard Transmitter
2 - PC Cords (Pocket Wizard to Nikon SB-28dx)
2 - PhotoFlex Q39 soft boxes
8 - PhotoFlex mini-rods (for soft boxes)
2 - PhotoFlex Speedrights (with tic-tac-toe patterned rubber bands to hold Nikon SB-28dx lights in place)
2 - Calumet Swivel Adapters
2 - Spare Sets Of "AA" Batteries
1 - Sheet of Cinefoil (to make snoot)
1 - Small Roll of Black Gaffers Tape
1 - Black/White Gobo
1 - Stofen White OmniBounce
1 - Energizer 15 minute AA Battery Charger w/ power supply
1 - Gitzo 0012 Compact Tripod w/Gitzo G1277M compact ball head
1 - Maglight MiniMag Flashlight
X - A bunch of spare rubber bands for the speed rings

Not pictured in the photos below, hidden under the foam padding, is a zip-wire cable and three locks, two to lock the case and one to lock the zip-wire and Pelican case to a bench for some security.

So for those who don't want to carry the extremely heavy all-in-one Think Tank Airport Addicted backpack, try out this set up , or your own variation of this set up. I suggest possibly swapping out of the Domke F-802 for a low profile backpack, such as the the Mountainsmith Parallax (http://ParallaxOverview.notlong.com ) that can hold a lot, but is small and is easily worn by women and people who are not very tall.

Below are a few photos of both the Domke F-805 and the Pelican 1514 in the setups I have discussed here.

Have any questions, comments or need help with your specific packing situation? Drop me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Interested in a hands on learning experience that will teach you how to travel quickly, efficiently , effectively and work through your jet lag? Please visit www.comeflywithfish.com

Happy Flying!

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26-November-2007: Your Own Private Place In The Airport, It's Not As Hard As You Think!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

26-November-2007: Your Own Private Place In The Airport, It's Not As Hard As You Think!

Let's face it a long layover or a missed flight can lead to some unwanted time in the airport. If you are like most people you detest your time in the airport, you find it loud, busy and an annoyance to your day.

I do agree, the airport can be an impersonal, uncomfortable and irritating place. When you are looking for an oasis to relax in after a busy day or a long flight Gate D48 is not the place you want to kick back and relax.

When confronted with an extended stay in the airport there are ways to relax, unwind and find your own place to be productive, take a nap or steal away from personal time.

Some airports are better than others for finding your personal space and some airports are like hell, but worse. I wish all airports were created equal, but they are not.

One of the easiest ways to create your "own space" in an airport is to find a corner that allows you to lean against two walls use some noise canceling headsets and just watch a movie, or edit or listen to music. If you corner has a power outlet it's even better!

When traveling I make myself notes on airports I have been through on where to find some peace, as well as what concourses or gates are the quietest at certain times of the day. I plan much of my travel with heavy layovers, often leaving a job late at night and camping out in the airport until an early morning flight, or a very late red-eye home. I do this because I am cheap (see my earlier posting about taking bumps from flights for free flight vouchers). I'd prefer a hotel bed, TV and shower, but many airports have showers somewhere (and many don't) and many have benches or WiFi or some quiet place. Are there some airports I will never overnight in and try and avoid any layover in? Yes, but we'll get to that later.

With frequent trips through San Francisco International Airport (SFO) I try and find my peace in Terminal 3, on Concourse F, the United Airlines (UA) departure gates. There is a shuttle from the US Airways (US) gates to the UA gates , I hop on and can spend a few hours of relative peace and quiet to watch a movie, surf the web. I have edited more projects in the past two years on Concourse F than probably anywhere else.

For a year I saw the bright lights of Las Vegas' McCarran Int'l Airport (LAS) 2 or 3 nights a week on my way home from the west coast back to the east coast (great commute, eh?). For these flights I'd always leave from Gate 40D, always on the same Delta (DL) flight to Cincinnati (CVG) on 738, almost always in seat 3A. I had my routine down depending on layover time. Very often I'd seek out the kids play area between concourses. I am sure this sounds loud and like a chaotic area, but in fact there are almost never any kids in there, the floor has nice carpet, the sun would not be blinding me due to the location of the windows, there are plenty of power outlets and LAS has free WiFi. Sounds like paradise right? Well when you consider my turn around time from New England to California was around 28hrs round trip, this areas was paradise to me. I could stretch out, nap, get my work done and just unwind.

Some airports have better features than others. Some airports that quickly come to mind are SFO with their museum gallery displays and library; Pittsburgh (PIT) with a huge shopping mall to window shop in; Charlotte (CLT) with the comfy rocking chairs; Incheon (ICN) with it's indoor golf course; Nagoya (NGO) and it's Japanese bath house; Honolulu (HNL) and it's outdoor Japanese Garden; Hong Kong (HKG) and it's 4D Movie theater; Frankfurt Main (FRA) and it's movie theater; Tokyo Narita (NRT) and it's roof top observation desk, etc etc. I can go on, but you get the point.

With long layovers I'd suggest looking up each airport's web page. This will let you find out what is and is not an available service in the airport. Some airports have showers and public lounges, when you arrive you find out that these facilities are only past security. This can leave you with many hours of standing around with nothing to do. When you have nothing to do, I find watching movies best.

The flip side to all of this is also knowing which airports you need to avoid. There are some airports that are not only lacking comfort but they are also lacking security. Two airports I will never overnight in, and avoid long layovers in, are Newark, NJ (EWR) and Paris' Charles de Gaulle (CDG). Why are these two airports I have travelled through often at the top of my list? Both airports have a significant homeless population at night and the terminals are not well patrolled. I have had a 6hr layover in EWR from 2:00am to 8:00am once and I thought I was going to be robbed three times. While taking a nap at CDG, during the day time , while the airport was bustling, I woke up to find someone urinating on the wall near my head (I actually found other people who have posted a similar occurrence at CDG!)

If you decide to overnight in Mumbai (BOM) you may end up needing to bribe security ; you plan on sleeping outside security at Moscow's Sheremetyevo (SVO) you have a high risk of being robbed, Don't Ever Think Of Having A Layover In Lagos, Nigeria (LOS), passengers have been mugged on the tarmac walking from the terminal to the plane! This should be a completely secure area, but it is not.

Yes, BOM, SVO and LOS are the worst case scenario, but I just wanted to point out that there are cases where airport's aren't just uncomfortable , such as Philadelphia (PHL), London Gatwick (LGW) or Los Angeles Int'l (LAX) , some are downright dangerous.

When planning for a long layover you should keep this in mind when packing. You should pack only what you can comfortably carry. You do not want to carry heavy things with you. If you plan on napping you should seriously consider having small TSA locks on each of your zippers and securing your bags with a zip-wire (http://cablelock.notlong.com ) or a PacSafe wire bag protector (http://www.pacsafe.com). These items will allow you to secure your bags and protect your gear while you sleep. I often lock the cable to a bench and also to my pant belt loop. If the bag is attached to my belt look I'll know if someone is trying to get into my gear.

For your comfort I suggest bringing a comfortable hooded sweatshirt. A hooded sweatshirt is ideal for a few reason. The first is that the extra layer of clothing is comfortable when dealing with the air conditioning in the airport for a long period of time; a heavier sweatshirt gives you a little more padding when laying down; the hood gives your head protection from the ground or wall when laying down; the hood allows your to create a barrier around your head (similar to horse blinders on a race horse) to block out the world around you; you can roll the hood up and give your head a small pillow.

Noise canceling headsets are a great way to block out the world, even if you just turn them on and do not play any music through them. There are any different kinds of noise canceling headsets depending on your personal preferences. I like the Sennheiser PXC250 headsets (http://pxc250.notlong.com), the are light, compact and fold up to save space. Place the headsets under your hood and you've created your own little private space in a public area.

If you have work to do, bring a very small multi-outlet adapter, I like the 3 outlet adapters that are US$2.50 at Home Depot (http://3outlet.notlong.com) to plug in your laptop, mobile phone, etc. If you are traveling internationally you'll also want a compact and light weight international plug adapter to plug your gear in (make sure your power supplies are Dual Voltage first!)

A nice compact and comfortable option, if you want to add one more item, is the Tempur-Pedic 3-in-1 Travel Pillow (http://TempurTravelPillow.notlong.com ) mine gets stuffed into a Pelican Case or ThinkTank Airport Addicted when space allows, and it has flown a few hundred thousand miles. It comes with a compact case, it can be crushed easily, and it is very comfortable. I use mine in airports, on airplane and even in hotels because it is often more comfy than hotel pillows.

Did I mention movies pass the time? I am sure I did, so pack them in a flat sleeve that takes up no space , swing by the magazine shop for a soda and some M&Ms and relax with them.

Below are my Top 5 Airports I Can Unwind In and my Top 5 Airports I'd Rather Kill Myself Than Have A Layover In

Top 5 Airports I Can Unwind In
#5) Tie - Nagoya (NGO)
#5) Tie - Tokyo Narita (NRT)
#4) London Heathrow (LHR)
#3) Incheon (ICN)
#2) Hong Kong (HKG)
#1) San Francisco International (SFO)

Top 5 Airports I'd Rather Kill Myself Than Have A Layover In
#5) Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
#4) London Gatwick (LGW)
#3) Los Angeles (LAX)
#2) Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
#1) Tie - Philadelphia (PHL)
#1) Tie - Newark, NJ (EWR)

If you'd like further info on why I enjoy or hate a specific airport please feel free to ask by dropping me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Interested in a hands on learning experience that will teach you how to travel quickly, efficiently , effectively and work through your jet lag? Please visit www.comeflywithfish.com

Below is a photo of me relaxing and editing my work during a really long stint between work and my flight home.

Happy Flying!

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17 November 2007

17-November-2007: Care To Go Around The World With Me? Well Now You Can!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

17-November-2007: Care To Go Around The World With Me? Well Now You Can!

Have you ever dreamed about taking mad dash around the world? Have you watched "The Amazing Race" and wished you could take a more civilized photo version of that journey? If you have, I may have the most intense photo workshop you have ever envisioned in store for you.

I am in the process of setting up the logistics for a workshop aimed at giving photographers the opportunity to learn how to handle nearly every aspect of complex travel assignments. My travel assignments for clients are not to go to an area and spend a few days or weeks seeking out images, I am constantly in motion, often on the ground for less than half-a-day, then crossing a continent, spanning an ocean, or at times flying over two continents, only to cross another ocean on my way home.

The "Flying With Fish No Jetlag Photo Workshop" will teach you how to press yourself to your limits not only visually, but also physically and mentally. You will learn how to travel effectively, efficiently, pack lighter, maximize your time not only on the ground shooting, but also while in transit and in flight...........and of course, you will travel completely around the world, shooting pre-determined assignments on at least four continents, in at least six countries, be given real-time deadlines to adhere to and be home in less than two weeks.

I could run a workshop that involves completely flying around the world one-and-a-half times in five days, but really that wouldn't be any fun, now would it?

If you are interested in learning more about this workshop as the details and logistics are nailed down please drop me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 8 participants.

Happy Flying!

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16-November-2007 : "We Need A Volunteer To Give Up Their Seat In Exchange For A Free Flight" - The Ups & Downs Of Being Bumped

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

16-November-2007 : "We Need A Volunteer To Give Up Their Seat In Exchange For A Free Flight" - The Ups & Downs Of Being Bumped

Anyone who has ever flown on a peak day or at a peak time has heard this familiar announcement over the PA system "We need two volunteers to give up their seats exchange for a flight later today and a free round trip anywhere in our domestic network."

I'll admit it, if I am in no great hurry and I see a packed flight I have been known to walk up to the Gate Agent and volunteer my name before the announcement is even made over the PA system. Much of my domestic travel this year was on "bump vouchers," which is going to be a problem for me next year......but we'll get to that later.

The official term for "bumped" is "VDB" or "Voluntary Denied Boarding" (rather than "IDB" or "Involuntary Denied Boarding"). I have at times booked certain flights knowing there would be a high likely hood of getting VDB'd or "bumped." In fact, a few years ago I did the rare, and elusive, triple bump, while already flying on a bump voucher with Southwest Airlines. What is the triple bump you ask? Let me tell you!

While flying home from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to Providence, RI (PVD) an announcement was made for volunteers. I quickly volunteered and offered to take a flight leaving 10 minutes later to Hartford's Bradley Int'l Airport (BDL). I was rebooked (I had no checked baggage so it was no problem) , handed my voucher and walked two gates over to the BDL flight. Once at this gate a request went out for volunteers to give up their seats, I volunteered, I was handed my voucher and immediately booked back on the flight I had just been bumped from! .............we all know where this is going don't we...............I walked back to my original gate, it was chaos at the gate for some reason, which is unusual for Southwest (WN) at BWI. Well we started to board and they announced they needed one volunteer to get off the plane, I was next to the counter, I leaned over, I volunteered and I picked up my third bump voucher in the span of 20 minutes! I ended up back in Providence about 90 minutes later than anticipated, but picked up three free flights along the way.

At first it seems like a great idea. Well in fact it is a great idea if you have the time to spare, but beware of the dreaded restrictions! That's right, the rules for using the free flight are not as straight forward as you think. These vouchers do provide a free round trip flight in the Continental U.S. Domestic (or Canadian on Air Canada and WestJet) Network, but getting seats is not always simple. The small print on most "Free Flight Vouchers" is so details that it needs to be printed on two boarding passes that are stapled together. Below are some of the usual restrictions
- You must fly on the carrier issuing the voucher only, code share flights are not accessible. What this means for you is this, if you get bumped from a US Airways (US) flight and you find a US flight, with a US Flight # , but the flight is operated by United Airlines (UA) you will not be allowed to take this flight. This is a "code share" flight. You must fly ONLY on the issuing carrier's aircraft only.

- You are restricted to a limited types of fare classes for seats available. Look on any boarding pass you have, somewhere you'll see "Class" and a letter under it, a Y/Q/S/T/W or some other letter. This is your fare class. Generally "Y" is full-fare economy, "N" is a discounted economy fare, "C" or "J" is full fare Business Class, "A" is a discounted First Class, etc etc etc. There are many fare classes, not just these I have mentioned. On the "Free Flight Voucher" you will often be limited to one single fare class, what does this mean for you? Well this means that you have a limited chance at seats.

- You must use the voucher within one year of issue. If you get multiple vouchers use them in the order they are issued. I have had vouchers expire for not using them in the order they were issued.

- You will NOT get any frequent flier miles and certainly won't get any "status miles" from using a bump voucher. This is why I will have no status on any airlines, except one airline, starting on March 1 2008. My flying this year was as much as many other years, but I used so many vouchers that gained me no miles and no status miles. How many bump vouchers did I pick up in 2006? How about a few dozen! I got so good at it , that it allowed me to try and save money this year, so I traded my "elite status" with four airlines in order to save thousands of dollars. Seemed like a fair trade, I'm sure I'll get my status back.........who did I keep my status with, and also reach the highest tier of status with? British Midland International, also known as BMI (BD).

- You must use book your seats a minimum of 14 days prior to travel. This makes the vouchers less ideal for last minute flexible business travel. Some airlines require you turn the voucher in at the counter or office within 48hrs of making the reservation. This is a rule that is going away with most airlines as it makes it impossible to use the vouchers at times (don't think the airlines don't know this). I have had to drive 120 miles round trip to either of my two local airports (not counting HVN which is close by, but is only serviced by US) to make sure my free seat was secured.

So if you are planning on taking five bumps, then taking your family to Vegas for Christmas on bump vouchers think again. It probably won't happen. If you split your family and travel at two different points in the day during a non-heavy traffic travel period it might work out for you.

Some airlines are harder than others (US), some are easier than others (WN), but overall if you can get five free seats for your family while sitting at the gate with no where to go........I say "GO FOR IT!"

Interested in a hands on learning experience that will teach you how to travel quickly, efficiently , effectively and work through your jet lag? Please visit www.comeflywithfish.com

Happy Flying

09 November 2007

9-November-2007 : The All In One Camera, Lights, Computer Carry On Bag

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

9-November-2007 : The All In One Camera, Lights, Computer Carry On Bag

I have written about my Think Tank Airport Addicted Backpack (www.thinktankphoto.com/ttp_product_ArprtAddctd.php) many times before, so it must be no shock for those who know me to see this bag being repurposed and used for a different gear set up.

Over the next few weeks I need to shoot a series of images of four Oncology Nurses for a national book project. The nurses I need to photograph are in New York, Boston, Illinois and Indiana. With my first shoot today in New York I decided to create a full kit that I could easily take to all four locations and carry in a single legal carry on bag. These shoots involve a mix of United Airlines planes, Amtrak trains, the subway and rental cars (OK, using a rental car isn't a big deal. I could load up three cases of gear for a rental car and it wouldn't be a big deal).

My basics were simple in theory, to create a simple one bag kit for all four shoots that I could use as a carry on four flights, easily throw overhead on the train and wear on my back on the subway. First off I laid out all the basic gear I thought I'd need on my kitchen table. After this I took out overlapping gear, heavy gear, and any lens that I just thought would be a waste of space and additional weight. Once this was done I pulled my bags out, backpacks and rolling bags (which reminds me, I really need to get the Think Thank Airport Security bag www.thinktankphoto.com/ttp_product_ArprtScrty.php ) and as has occurred many times before , there was only one logical choice..................you guessed it the Think Tank Airport Addicted Backpack.

My backpack has flow hundreds of thousands of miles. It has been set for many different uses. This is however the first time I have used the bag as an all-in-one camera gear + lighting gear + laptop bag.

After today's venture down to New York I am looking forward to putting it through it's paces on some United 737-300s and 757-200s and seeing how it goes.

The complete backpack kit contains the following

2 - Nikon SB-28dx Speedlights
2 - Bogen 3373 Compact Lightstands
2 - Pocket Wizard Receivers
1 - Pocket Wizard Transmitter
2 - PC Cords (Pocket Wizard to Nikon SB-28dx)
2 - PhotoFlex Q39 soft boxes
8 - PhotoFlex mini-rods (for soft boxes)
2 - PhotoFlex Speedrights (with tic-tac-toe patterned rubber bands to hold Nikon SB-28dx lights in place)
2 - Calumet Swivel Adapters
2 - Spare Sets Of "AA" Batteries
1 - Sheet of Cinefoil (to make snoot)
1 - Small Roll of Black Gaffers Tape
1 - Black/White Gobo

Camera Gear:
2 - Canon 1D Series Bodies (1D/1Ds)
4 - Canon 1D Batteries
1 - ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket (SportsShooter Edition)
10 - CF Cards (in Pixel Pocket Rocket)
1 - Canon 14f2.8L
1 - Canon 24f1.4L
1 - Canon 24f3.5L TS-E (Tilt Shift)
1- Canon 50f1.4USM
1 - Canon 85f1.2L
1 - Canon 16-35f2.8L
1 - Canon 28-70f2.8L
1 - Modified Holga Lens (modified to fit Canon EOS mount)

Computer Gear (not pictured)
- Apple 15" PowerBook
- Apple power supply
- Lexar USB 2.0 CF Card Reader
- USB 2.0 Cord
- 60gb iPod Video
- Sennheiser Noise Canceling Headsets
- 10 DVD Sleeve (movies of course)

Below are a few photos of the Think Tank Airport Addicted Backpack (ignore the orange cat hair in the first photo, one of my cats loves to sleep on this bag). The photos show the closed back, open bag fully packed and open bag with the light stands and soft boxes moved out of the way. The laptop stuff is in the "rear computer compartment" and travels in the handy Think Tank's laptop case.

The other two photos are images of my lighting set up and a photo shot during today's shoot for the book project.

Have any questions? Feel free to e-mail me at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Interested in a hands on learning experience that will teach you how to travel quickly, efficiently , effectively and work through your jet lag? Please visit www.comeflywithfish.com

Happy Flying!

--Click On Images To Enlarge Them--

19 October 2007

14-October-2007 : The Rules That Change Daily With Airport Security

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

14-October-2007 : The Rules That Change Daily With Airport Security

When you travel in the United States have you noticed many inconsistencies from airport to airport and even agent to agent regarding what you have to unpack from your bag? If you have not noticed this you are either lucky or aren't traveling enough.

It is becoming an increasing problem. Many photographers now report being required to remove their DSLR bodies from their bags and have them screened in a bucket, just like their laptop. For the record you are not required to remove your DSLR camera. Officially the following items are what need to be removed from your bag for TSA screening

- Laptops
- Video cameras that use video cassettes
- Full-size video game consoles
- Full-size DVD players
- CPAP breathing machines

The last think you want to do is argue with a TSA screener over something as simple as removing your DSLR from your bag. The TSA screener has the ability to detain you and pull apart all your bags, or send you off to secondary screening which can delay you to the point of missing your flight.

A big factor in the inconsistent nature of TSA screenings is the high turn over of screeners in the agency. The people you see on the front lines are not paid well compared to the task they are assigned to, which is keeping our flying public safe.

A second factor in the inconsistent nature of the TSA's seemingly random changing of the rules daily, is that not all airports use the TSA for screening! That's right when the TSA was formed, it was created to eliminate private security at U.S. commercial airports. The concept was a unified and consistent level of security from small airports like New Haven (HVN) that are only serviced by one airline flying to one destination to the massive international gateways like San Francisco's SFO. But wait................... the screening of passengers and baggage at SFO is not performed by the TSA! All the screeners at the TSA checkpoints at SFO are employed by a private security firm. You will notice at SFO that the patch on the screeners sleeves are not those of the TSA and the backs of the uniform shirts are embroidered with "Team SFO." This denotes that you are not dealing with the TSA, but a private firm, with the TSA was established to eliminate.

The TSA and some airports outsource the functions of the TSA to save money. Outsourcing is usually a less costly option, unless of course you realize the average TSA screener is earning approximately $26,000 per year, or less than $2,200 per month, or less than $550 per week. Now this salary might be OK for screeners based in small regional airports, but for screeners who work at Los Angeles' LAX, New York's JFK, Boston's Logan or Chicago's O'Hare this is an almost impossible salary to live in. Also keep in mind that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most expensive place in the United States to live and on average SFO's screeners are paid less than Federally employed TSA agents.

So next time you are asked to remove you gear be polite. The more polite you are the more polite the screener usually is. Keep in mind these folks are just trying to earn a living and that for the tasks they are assigned to they should certainly be paid more than they are.

If they ask you to pull your DSLR out, do it. It takes 10 seconds before the screening or it can take 5 minutes after the screening when they pull your bag off the belt and yell "Bag Check On Five!"

Interested in a hands on learning experience that will teach you how to travel quickly, efficiently , effectively and work through your jet lag? Please visit www.comeflywithfish.com

Happy Flying

--Click On Images To Enlarge Them--

Early Morning Security At PVD

11 October 2007

11-October-2007 - Help My Daughter Raise Money For The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

11-October-2007 - Help My Daughter Raise Money For The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Interested In Helping My Daughter Raise Money For The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation?

OK, I'm in parent mode now. I know, my Blog is almost always about plane, cameras, photographing planes with cameras, helping photogs carry the Olympic Torch, dealing with airport security, etc etc etc. Well, I guess I can break away from my usual posting patterns for one post to help my little girl out.

My daughter is walking this weekend to raise money for juvenile diabetes research. Unfortunately I won't be here for the walk , but it doesn't mean that I can't help support her in her efforts! If any of you care to help her raise money.....yes this is an outright parent help my kid help other kids blog entry......feel free to read below (it is a stock e-mail from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Lauren's goal was to reach $30. I kicked in 50% and was very quickly matched and far exceeded by Joe Ciarcia, a wedding photographer in Boston (check him out at www.symphonyphoto.com !), with a donation of $100.

Now with Lauren's goal far exceeded she'd like to see how much she can raise to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation...............come on, it's tax deductible!

Below is the e-mail that was originally sent out by Lauren this morning

Support Lauren Frischling in the 2007 Walk to Cure Diabetes

I'm writing to you to ask for your support in a very special cause.

This year, I'll be taking part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation'sWalk to Cure Diabetes along with a half-million other walkers across the country. Our goal: To raise $100 million to help fund research for a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications.

Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes, is a devastating, often deadly disease that affects millions of people--a large and growing percentage of them children.

Many people think type 1 diabetes can be controlled by insulin. While insulin does keep people with type 1 diabetes alive, it is NOT a cure. Aside from the daily challenges of living with type 1 diabetes, there are many severe, often fatal, complications caused by the disease.

That's the bad news... and yes, it's pretty bad.

The good news, though, is that a cure for type 1 diabetes is within reach. In fact, JDRF funding and leadership is associated with most major scientific breakthroughs in type 1 diabetes research to date. And JDRF funds a major portion of all type 1 diabetes research worldwide, more than any other charity.

I'm writing to ask for your support because now more than ever, EACH of us can be a part of bringing about a cure. Each of us can make a real difference

Won't you please give to JDRF as generously as you're able?

Together, we can make the cure a reality.

Thank you,

Lauren Frischling

Please visit my Walk Web page if you would like to donate online or see how close I am to reaching my personal goal:

Follow this link to make a donation:

Thanks for taking the time to read this entry and thank you for your support!

07 October 2007

5-October-2007 : You Can Help A Photographer Carry The Olympic Torch In China!!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

5-October-2007 : You Can Help A Photographer Carry The Olympic Torch In China!!

We've all see the photos of the runners striding through the city streets and up the rural mountain passes holding the Olympic Torch high over their heads. The few, the hand picked and the proud who have bee chosen to carry the torch that leads up the dramatic entry into the Olympic Stadium to start the Opening Ceremony of The Games. Well now you can help a flying photographer be one of those few who can proudly carry the Olympic Torch!

David McIntyre, who is based in Beijing and Hong Kong is not only a former newspaper photographer and a contract photographer with Black Star but he is also the staff photographer for Cathay Pacific Airways! (yea, you were wondering how I would tie flying into this weren't you?). David is seeking to carry the torch for the 2008 Games in Beijing and he needs YOUR VOTE to do it!

To vote for him please click this link, vote often, have your friends vote often!

There is a security code to block computers from voting, so please carefully enter the upper and lower case characters when you place your vote.

You can check out some of David's work at www.davidpix.com

Go David Go!

Happy Flying!

27-September-2007 : Come On Ride The Rails Once In A While!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

27-September-2007 : Come On Ride The Rails Once In A While!

While my posts on Flying With Fish typically involve flying, I'd like to take a moment and discuss another mode of transportation.......no not he car, I hate driving, not the bus either, nope not even chartering a private yacht, I'd like to discuss taking the train.

All over the world the railroad system is extensive and can get you almost anywhere. In Russia you can travel by train from Moscow to Vladivostik, you can grab a high speed train from Paris to London passing under the English Channel, but here in the United States the railroad system is fairly poor and difficult to use outside of the Northeast Corridor (with the exception of commuter rail systems throughout the country).

You may ask why I am discussing traveling by train since I live in the United States and this blog is about flying. Well the answer is simple, I live in the Northeast Corridor and my two closest international airports are both 100+ miles away in either New York of Boston. In fact my local airport, New Haven (HVN) only has six flights per day, all six flights are on turbo props and all six flights only fly to Philadelphia (PHL) , which means I use the train often.

Today's assignment is taking me to Philadelphia, about 220 miles from home. Flying from HVN to PHL seems to be the logical choice right? Well not in this case. To fly from HVN to PHL less than 7 days from the date of departure is usually close to $800 round trip for the 59min flight! The same trip on Amtrak (www.amtrak.com)is $125.

While I fly this route often for various reasons, let's look at the break down to why I often use the train. Travel Time On Amtrak from Old Saybrook (OSB) to Philadelphia 30th Street Station (PHL) is about 4 hours. To fly from HVN to PHL includes the following, 35 minute drive to the airport, a minimum of 45 minutes at the airport prior to the flight, 59 minutes on the flight, 15 minutes to taxi to the gate, 10 minutes to get out of the airport. 15-20min waiting for the train into the city, 15 minutes on the train to the 30th street station. This is 3hrs and 30min of travel of constantly moving. If I check baggage (which I almost never do) I need to ad at least another 30min of time to this flying scenario.

So, for me, if I can save a lot of money, sit in one seat, relax, watch two movies, work, eat a snack and travel for roughly the same amount of time I choose to use the rail system to get to work.

In reality, since I live near nothing, HVN is 35 min away,both Hartford (BDL) and Providence (PVD) at an hour drive, and JFK and Boston (BOS) are both nearly 2.5-3hrs away depending on traffic, I use the train often. The train takes from easily from my train station to Boston's South Station, then onto BOS or it takes me to New York's Penn Station and on to JFK or Newark (EWR) and Amtrak I can go see the world.

Don't be a total air snob, explore your options and see if you can save money (often by taking Amtrak to JFK I can save almost $500 on flights to Europe!!). Check out what they may be able to offer you at www.amtrak.com or call them at 1(800)USA-Rail.

Oh, why was I in Philly today? I was hired to work as the personal documentary photographer for both Bono of U2 and Former U.S. President George HW Bush at the Liberty Medal Awards.

Below are a few shots from my day with Bono and Former President Bush.

Happy Flying! (Happy Rolling?)

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