30 June 2008

Join The No Jet Lag Photo Workshops : Push Your Travel & Photography Skills To A Whole New Level!

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

30/6/2008 - Join The No Jet Lag Photo Workshops : Push Your Travel & Photography Skills To A Whole New Level!

Are you ready to push the envelope? Are you ready to take your travel-photography skills and put them to tests of logistics, exhaustion and creative challenges beyond your wildest dreams?

The deadlines to join the 'No Jet Lag Photo Workshops' will be upon us soon enough, don't miss out!

For those of you seeking six days on the road exploring some of the most visually distinctive cities in Europe check out the 'No Jet Lag Euro Course.' The No Jet Lag Euro Course takes off on the 30th of November.

For those of you seeking the ultimate in a travel-photography workshop check out the 'Round-the-World No Jet Lag Course.' This is less of a workshop and more of a forced march around the world. Once you board the first flight you're off on a 12-day whirlwind adventure through six world-class cities, two 'hidden' global cities, seven countries, four continents, and a sub-continent. You'll learn to travel light, think quickly and have experiences well beyond your wildest dreams, all while spanning the globe in the comfort and service of flying in Business Class on world class international airlines. Your journey with the Round-the-World No Jet Lag Course starts on November 1st.

To learn more about the No Jet Lag Photo Workshops visit: www.comeflywithfish.com

Happy Flying!

Mountainsmith Bag Give Away Deadline Extended!

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

30/6/2008 - Mountainsmith Bag Give Away Deadline Extended!

Last week I announced "The Great Mountainsmith Bag Give Away From Flying With Fish," with a deadline of the 7th of July.

Well last week got away with me with a few trips to the Emergency Room to deal with my tearing of a large group of lower abdominal muscles. As you can imagine I didn't have much energy to much.....like sit up and use a computer. Thanks to the miracle of medicine (and Doctor #3s ability to do a thorough exam and actual find the cause of my searing pain) I am on the mend and back to work!

...........what does this mean for the readers of Flying With Fish? It means my injury just bought you all an extra week to send me your 'worst case scenario' travel situations!

Rather than the July 7th deadline you now have until you have until July 14th!

For full details on how to win a Mountainsmith Parallax Backpack ; Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack; Mountainsmith Cyber II Pouch check out this post:
26/6/2008 - The Great Mountainsmith Bag Give Away From Flying With Fish!

Happy Flying!

27 June 2008

International Mobile Phones : Staying In Touch Around The World

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

27/6/2008 - International Mobile Phones : Staying In Touch Around The World

One of the most common logistical problems international travelers face is staying in touch while on the road.

For some travelers their mobile phones are not "Groupe Sp├ęcial Mobile," more commonly known as "GSM" so the mobile phone will not work internationally. Other traveler find they have as GSM phone, but it is only a dual band phone and it does not have the proper frequencies for international use. Many travelers simply do not want to incur outrageous international roaming fees.

There are simple ways to stay in touch while also lowering the expense of using your mobile phone overseas. I have tried a variety of options when traveling will hopefully clear up this somewhat complex travel issue for those of you traveling internationally.

There are some basics you'll need to know before we dive in. The first piece of information you'll need to know is if your phone is GSM, TDMA or CDMA.

--GSM is truly the global standard. "The World" primarily operates on GSM frequencies 900mhz and 1800mhz. "North America" largely operates on 850mhz and 1900mhz. Central-and-South America operate on a mix of all four frequencies.

For those of you who use TDMA and CDMA you'll most likely need to pick up a GSM phone for international use. TDMA and CDMA are really limited to the US and Canada, with some CDMA service in use in South Korea. If you have Bell Mobility PCS (Canada), Telus PCS (Canada), Sprint (USA), Verizon (USA), KT Freetel (South Korea), LG Telecom (South Korea), SK Telecom (South Korea) you most likely have a CDMA phone.

--If you have a GSM phone, or are looking into a GSM phone, you'll need a "Subscriber Identity Module" card, which is more commonly referred to simply as a "SIM Card." Your service, your phone numbers, even your stored phone numbers, live on the SIM Card, not on your phone. A SIM allows you to swap phones as often as you'd like and take your phone number with you. You can also travel and pick up SIM cards as you go and pick up local phone numbers (but we'll get to that later).

--Going to Japan? Well that is a whole other topic that can take up it's own entry.....they have GSM SIMs, but most handsets and SIMs from outside Japan are not compatible with Japan, however mobile phones from Japan have no problem working outside of Japan.

Now that I have covered the basics, lets get into whether you need a GSM phone or not.

If you plan to travel to North America; you are in North America and plan to go anywhere else; you think you venture into Central or South America, then you'll want to purchase a "quad band" GSM mobile phone.

The most cost effective way to use your mobile phone is to simply purchase an unlocked GSM mobile phone if you do not already own one. I picked up a used an abused unlocked GSM quad-band phone on eBay not to long ago for $15. This came with a battery and international wall charger. I didn't need anything fancy, just unlocked and quad-band.

Once you have an unlocked GSM mobile phone you are free to purchase pre-paid mobile SIM cards as you travel. By purchasing a 'local' SIM card you have a local phone number and are paying a significantly better rate for your usage than roaming internationally on your home carriers plan. You can buy a SIM card, no contract required, in nearly any airport or train station, and you can get some great deals online as well! Run out of minutes? Buy a new SIM or top-up to refill the card.

The downside to buying your SIM locally? You lose your phone number. If you must keep your phone number look around at what mobile phone providers offer the best international roaming rates. Rates may not be consistent from country to country so make sure you ask your mobile phone provider for a complete list. If you plan to use data this can incur significant costs which you need to factor in.

As of today I have found AT&T has the most competitive international voice roaming fees for US based customers, while T-Mobile has the most competitive Blackberry Mail fees. Verizon "global phone" users will find their data rates favourable, while their voice rates are well above both AT&T and T-Mobile (US).

Remember that as soon as you land in a foreign country and turn on your mobile phone your SIM has been registered with that country's provider. This means that even if you do not answer your phone you may be charged a connect fee for all missed calls while you are on the road internationally. Since your SIM has registered on a foreign provider, all calls coming to you are automatically being routed to that provider from your 'home' provider.

To avoid this problem I travel with a T-Mobile (US) Blackberry and remove the SIM from my AT&T mobile phone. As soon as I land I place a foreign SIM in my unlocked AT&T phone so I have my Blackberry for mail while using a local SIM for all voice calls. In Hong Kong you can pick up 880 minutes for HK$88 (US$11.25), in Paris you can find a SIM with 500 minutes for €20 (US$31.50) , both example SIMs will save you a lot of money if you choose a local SIM rather than your 'home' SIM.

Want a dedicated international mobile phone with a phone number that will follow you around the world? Check out Mobal International Cell Phones (www.mobal.com). While Mobal may not have the best rates in some countries, overall, you know exactly what your fees are for incoming/outgoing calls before you travel internationally. Having a known expense makes the choice to use a mobile phone easier. Mobal sells a variety of GSM World Phones (be aware than the US$49 promo phone works globally, except on US/Canada frequencies).

Not interested in buying a phone or buying a SIM? You can always rent a phone. Companies such as AllCell Worldwide Wireless Rentals (www.allcellrentals.com) can set you up with what you need worldwide. AllCell has an extensive line of phones for both international and domestic use. Going off the beaten path? AllCell can set you up with a Satellite Phone as well. Companies such as AllCell offer an added benefit of being able to get an international rate plane with Free Incoming Calls. If you plan on accepting more calls than you'll be making you can save a lot of money with this option.

.........going to Japan? Rent a phone, or just buy one when you show up.

Well that's it, the basics of staying in touch while on the road around the world.

Happy Flying!

Airline Nickel & Dime Tactics Summed Up In A Cartoon Strip

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

27/6/2008 - Airline Nickel & Dime Tactics Summed Up In A Cartoon Strip

I was reading today's comics in the paper and stumbled upon a "Cathy" strip that pretty much summed up all the recent announcements by US airlines about their nickel & dime fees.

Click the comic strip below to enlarge it

Happy Flying!

26 June 2008

The Great Mountainsmith Bag Give Away From Flying With Fish!

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

26/6/2008 - The Great Mountainsmith Bag Give Away From Flying With Fish!

As a photographer I have relied on Mountainsmith bags to carry my gear for years. I currently use five Mountainsmith products on a regular basis (well really six, since I have two Mountainsmith Tour packs). I have been writing about my Mountainsmith bags since I started Flying With Fish, and even dedicated a whole week to the versatility of the Mountainsmith Tour.

My consistent references to Mountainsmith products have caught the attention of Mountainsmith and they have very graciously offered me three bags to give away to the readers of Flying With Fish!

What do you have to do to win one of these Mountainsmith bags? Simple, you need to tell the 'worst case scenario' you have experienced on the road and how you overcame it! In 400 words or less, I need the details of what and where your worst case scenario happened and I need the details of how you overcame the situation to keep on going (FYI: telling me you ended up in jail is not a solution to overcoming a travel problem).

Be honest! Any stories that seem a little far-fetched will be verified; also I have read the "worse case scenario" series of books, so no lifting material from there; I also read Flyer Talk and can search the archives so no ripping off material!

So what's at stake?

First Prize : The Mountainsmith Parallax photo backpack.
My Mountainsmith Parallax carried everything I needed to travel around the world 1.5x times approximately 4 days while shooting a project for an airline. The backpack held everything I needed to pack, it is legal for carry on with virtually every airline.....and.....it is compact and comfortable enough to be worn while shooting!

Second Prize: The Mountainsmith Day Recycled lumbar pack
I love that Mountainsmith produces bags from recycled material. This is very forward thinking and it helps reduce our individual footprint on the planet. My Mountainsmith Day is used as a small satchel for both my 15" PowerBook and 13" MacBook. I also use the Day as my 'hit the ground running' bag, stocked with a small kit of lenses and basic lighting accessories.

Third Prize: The Mountainsmith Cyber II Recycled Pouch
These compact pouches are fantastic for carrying a point & shoot, flash, or small lens. I have a used a Cyber II (large) to hold lenses such as the 16-35f2.8 and 85f1.8 on my belt when traveling one body and only two small lenses.

...So think back on your travels and write down the details of your 'worst case scenario' and how you overcame the problems to keep on trudging along. Once you have correctly recalled the details of your ordeal and triumph send me an e-mail of 400 words or less! The e-mail address your entry should go to is : traveltips@flyingwithfish.com

THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES IS MONDAY THE 7TH OF JULY! Winners will be announced on the 9th of July.

You may enter once. All entries must have your full first and last name. Anyone enters twice will have both entries disqualified.

…………..and let’s all give Mountainsmith a big round of applause for supporting the readers of Flying With Fish!

Happy Flying!

Small Print:
- Flying With Fish is in no way affiliated with Mountainsmith
- Mountainsmith is in no way affiliated with Flying With Fish
- Judges decisions on winners is final
- Disqualification is at the sole discretion of judges
- Prizes may be swapped for an equal prize at the discretion of Mountainsmith
- Winning entries may be posted, with winners’ names, on Flying With Fish
- Entries that tell me they encountered someone releasing the dogs; or the bees; or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot bees at you......will get a good laugh, then be disqualified.

23 June 2008

The Mountainsmith Correspondent : A Versatile, Rugged, Do-It-All, General Purpose Rolling Camera Bag

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

23/6/2008 - The Mountainsmith Correspondent : A Versatile, Rugged, Do-It-All, General Purpose Rolling Camera Bag

For years I have used and trusted the Mountainsmith Tour pack as my 'do it all' shooting bag. Having used the Mountainsmith Tour waist pack as a versatile multi-purpose platform, as well as the Tour's 'larger brother' the Mountainsmith Day pack and the Mountainsmith Parallax photo backpack, Mountainsmith seemed like the logical option when searching for a new soft-sided rolling camera bag.

When looking for a new soft-sided rolling camera bag I kept in mind that there is no such thing as the 'perfect bag,' however the Mountainsmith Correspondent came across as the most versatile rolling camera bag. When choosing my equipment I generally choose versatility over all other deciding factors. In the business of traveling as a photographer every assignment is different, ever need is different, every packing situation is different, and versatility is key.

Having now used the Mountainsmith Correspondent for approximately two months, I have used this rolling camera bag on a variety shooting and travel situations. From 'valet' checking the Correspondent on small regional jet flights, to rolling it down the aisle of a Boeing 747-400 to right now, as I write this review of the Correspondent while sitting on a Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 with the bag in the overhead above me in Seat 3D, the bag has exceeded my expectations.

What makes the Mountainsmith Correspondent different? For starters the versatile design of the bag has at times let me travel with only this bag. No backpack or secondary camera bag. I can do my job in just this one bag and a waist-pack/belt system (which is what I wear and work out of when shooting). Being able to place everything I need inside a single bag when getting on a place is great.

A unique feature of the Correspondent is it's interior main compartment. The interior main compartment can be configured for all camera equipment by utilizing two independent and padded zippered 'cubes.' These 'cubes are secured by heavy Velcro on three sides. The interiors of the ‘cubes’ come with a variety of semi-rigid dividers that allow you configure each 'cube' individually. The padding around each 'cube' is not space consuming, however it is significant in its protections abilities. Having been forced to 'valet' check my Corresponded loaded with camera equipment on a number of regional jet flights (and a turbo-prop flight) I have had not once single piece of equipment damaged. The Correspondent is now one of only three bags I would trust to 'valet' checking on a regional jet (although I would still never check this bag as baggage with camera equipment in it, that is still reserved for only Pelican cases). If I packed a little tighter could add a third body, and two more 'short' lenses.

In the two fully packed cubes can hold a significant amount of equipment. Generally my wedding photography kit consists of two full-sized bodies, 8 lenses, a flash (sometimes two), an ETTL cord, battery CF card wallet, and 3 spare sets of "AA" batteries

The Correspondent's design of two individual cubes makes configuring the bag for multi-purpose use very easy. For short overnight-trips where my camera equipment needs are not extensive, or when traveling to meetings, I can remove the top 'cube' leaving only the bottom 'cube' in place. With this set up I generally place two full-size camera bodies and two lenses (16-35f2.8 & 70-200f2.8) in the lower 'cube' while packing my clothing in the upper open interior compartment. Being able have one bag do double duty is fantastic. This set up for minimal camera equipment and space for clothes is also nice for a weekend getaway where you want to pack some gear, but don't need all the usual trappings of traveling as photographer.

The front pocket of the Mountainsmith has a full-size laptop slot that can accommodate a laptop up to 17". While many rolling camera bags are missing a laptop slot, or only have a smaller laptop slot, this is a nice feature. Along the front flap of the exterior of the front pocket are slots for your pens, as well as a small mesh pocket which I tend to use for loose change and my keys. Having this mesh pocket at the top of the flap makes accessing my keys easy when the bag is loaded and I'm wandering through the parking lot looking for my car.

When traveling with a full camera kit with me to shoot a job, I often use the large front pocket to pack my clothes. In this front pocket I place my folded shirt inside the laptop slot to keep them neat and unwrinkled. The main compartment holds two t-shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, the laptop slot holds two dry-cleaned (folded) shirts, and a space pair of pants can be folded and placed in the main compartment over the 'cubes.' This is actually how I am packed at the moment for my travel over the next two days.

The exterior wall of both the 'cubes' and the main pocket are lines with see-thru plastic pockets. I tend to use these pockets for space camera batteries, flashlight, at times travel documents and other random items. With the Canon 5D/20d series bodies (with extended battery grips, roughly the same size as a Canon 1D or Nikon D3 body) I use the lower pocket on the wall of the main pocket to hold four compact battery chargers and a Manfrotto 3007 mini-tripod, while the pockets on the flaps of the 'cubes' can be a bit tight, they are a good place to store lens caps, body caps and a CF card wallet.

When the front pocket is packed with clothing I obviously travel with a backpack or other shoulder bag to accommodate items such as my laptop. Depending on my needs, this bag tends to be either North Face Surge when I need to carry more gear or a Mountainsmith Day when I need less gear. Despite the Mountainsmith Day's compact side it easily holds both a 13" MacBook or a 15" MacBook Pro.

On the top of the bag, under the business card slot, you'll find a small zippered pocket. This pocket is an idea place to store your spare lock and zip-cable. I like keeping my lock-and-cable combo in a location that requires no digging around so I can quickly get it out and lock up my bag when I sit down.

From a security point of view, the design of the zippers make locking the bag very easy. I prefer zippers that are durable rather than 'tied rope' as quite a few camera bags have, as this zipper style appears to be much harder to breach.

The exterior front of the bag is an 'open slot' to carry a tripod, along with a lashing strap to secure the tripod. Since I don't travel with full-size tripods, and rarely if ever secure a tripod to the exterior this feature is lost on me, but I know quite a few photogs who do, so I thought it was worth mentioning

Just above the tripod slot are three lash tabs, this is a feature I have used a few times. I have at various times, for a variety of reasons use a carabineer to secure a Newswear pouch to the outside while in transit. I have also use a Velcro securing strap to lash a fleece vest or water proof shell to the outside of the bag when walking through an airport.

I'll end this review of the Mountainsmith Correspondent with its ability to withstand Mother Nature. At the base of the Correspondent, on the front main flap, is a raincoat tucked away in it's own pocket. Affixing the raincoat is ease and can come in very hands when weather turns on you in a hurry!

If I could change two minor features in the bag they would be this
1) Make the retractable handle I use when rolling the bag 2" (5cm) longer, but that is a common request I have for nearly every rolling bag I have used.
2) Have the front entry flap open to the side instead of out to the front. This is a personal preference as I know many people prefer the 'lay-flat' front entry.

For my purposes the Mountainsmith Correspondent has an excellent bag. I look forward to continuing to schlep this bag through airports with me when my travels require me to use a rolling bag.

Below are a few detail photos of my Mountainsmith Correspondent. These photos show certain details of the bag, as well as different ways I sent my bag up for different shooting/travel needs.

Happy Flying!

--Click Images To Enlarge Them--

20 June 2008

20/6/2008-Weekly Roundup: The Travel Strategist Launches; New TSA Changes; Two Airlines Unite; Carry-On Bag Etiquette; Win A Camera; Fish On The Radio

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

20/6/2008-Weekly Roundup: The Travel Strategist Launches; New TSA Changes; Two Airlines Unite; Carry-On Bag Etiquette; Win A Camera; Fish On The Radio

This week I have taken a bold new step in the direction of expanding the knowledge that I write about on Flying With Fish. Rather than accept ads to be placed on Flying With Fish I made a radical leap and started a whole new venture, which should support Flying With Fish! This new venture is a worldwide business-to-business travel solutions company; you can visit it at www.TheTravelStrategist.com

Aside from the new business-to-business venture, let's revisit the Week In Review!

This week kicked off with Father's Day! While I rarely post on Sundays, being that I am a Dad, I wanted to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the readers of Flying With Fish! You read my Father's Day entry here: 15/6/2008 - Happy Father’s Day!

The first read day of the week was met with TSA Screeners receiving 'law enforcement' style badges to be worn with their new uniforms. Passengers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport were the first to be greeted by 'badged' TSA screeners. You can read about this change here: 16/6/2008 - TSA Agents Get A Badge : Should TSA Screeners Have 'Law Enforcement' Shields?

Later in the week we explore the TSA's new program, which they call "Aviation Direct Access Screening Program." In reality this program is simply the TSA instituting random physical security searches at boarding gates, as passengers board. To find out more on this new program you can check here:
19/6/2008 - TSA Institutes New Secondary Security Searches At The Gate

With airlines changing their checked baggage policies we revisited an old topic of etiquette. Please read some of the basic rules of carry-on baggage etiquette in this entry: 18/6/2008 - Carry On Baggage Etiquette

On a lighter note, I wrote up Popular Photography's new contest seeking the 'worst photo you have ever shot".......where you can win a new camera! Have a photo you botched beyond repair.....and then you fixed it? Read here to enter for your new camera: 19/6/2008 - Win A Camera In Popular Photography's "Photo Makeover Contest!"

This week ended with a major announcement in the U.S. airline industry. Continental Airlines has decided to not only create a joint venture with United Airlines, but they have also opted to leave the SkyTeam airline alliance and join the Star Alliance. This changes the landscape of US travel significantly, but it can be a good thing! Find out more about this deal here: 20/6/2008 - Continental & United Airlines Announce Joint Venture : Is This Good For Passengers?

On a more personal note, you can listen to my interview on Inside Digital Photo Radio online now! The full interview with Scott Sheppard is available at: 18/6/2008 - Listen To Flying With Fish On The Radio! (well it’s a PodCast from the archive now)

............and we round out the week with the introduction, and beta/soft-launch of The Travel Strategist! You can read up on this new B2B venture here: 20/6/2008 - The Travel Strategist Takes Off! : New Business-to-Business Travel Solutions Venture

If you'd like to support this site, pushing yourself to the limits, as both a traveler and a photographer, while learning an entirely new set of travel and photography skills, join me on a No Jet Lag Workshop. You can find details at www.ComeFlyWithFish.com

That's it for this week

Happy Flying!

The Travel Strategist Takes Off! : New Business-to-Business Travel Solutions Venture

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

20/6/2008 - The Travel Strategist Takes Off! : New Business-to-Business Travel Solutions Venture

Today is an exciting day for me, and Flying With Fish. Early this morning I launched the 'soft-launch/beta' site for The Travel Strategist (www.thetravelstrategist.com)

The Travel Strategist is a business-to-business venture designed to help business maximize their road warriors' time on the road while reducing their businesses overall costs related to travel.

For months I have been seeking to find a way to keep Flying With Fish free of direct advertising. Flying With Fish has always been intended to be a reliable source of information free from the influence of outside sources. With Flying With Fish's growth, often the time spent writing this site, researching information, and responding to e-mails from readers equals the time most people spend on their full-time job. The solution to this desire to keep this site free of advertising was to create an independent venture based on my in-depth of knowledge of streamlining travel and reducing travel costs.

......stay tuned for an exciting contest to celebrate the launch of The Travel Strategist!

Happy Flying!

Continental & United Airlines Announce Joint Venture : Is This Good For Passengers?

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

20/6/2008 - Continental & United Airlines Announce Joint Venture : Is This Good For Passengers?

Once again the landscape of airline service in the United States is changing drastically. For many years Continental Airlines has been intricately intertwined with Northwest Airlines, as well as been a partner of Delta Airlines and a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.

Yesterday an announcement, which many saw coming, will wind down Continental's deep roots with Northwest, Delta and SkyTeam. Yesterday Continental announced its new partnership with United Airlines and it's intent to join rival global airline alliance "Star Alliance."

There had been speculation of a merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines once Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines announced a merger. While Continental and United will not be merging, this new partnership will sprout extensive code-share flights between these two airlines. Both airlines service unique markets, which should avoid extensive overlap, and the airlines service non-competing 'hubs.' Overall their route code-sharing could actually be a positive for passengers!

For metro-New York flyers the intention of Continental to join the Star Alliance will means the return of 'New York-London' (well not technically New York, really Newark (EWR)) non-stop service. Since United Airlines stopped flying from JFK-to-London Heathrow, the Star Alliance has been the only major global airline alliance without non-stop flights on one of the most lucrative routes in the world.

The joint venture of Continental and United, and Continental's intention to join the Star Alliance should take approximately a year. Passengers who earn SkyTeam miles on Continental will continue to do so for now. Northwest Airlines passengers who enjoy their upgrades on Continental should expect to continue receiving upgrades for the immediate future (and vise-versa). The transition of frequent flyer programs should be announced well in advance and with any luck the process will go 'almost smoothly.'

Personally, I'd rather see a joint venture such as this one rather than a merger. A joint venture reduces overall costs for airlines in some ways, while still giving the flying public more options. The more options we have as passengers the more competition there is, which can offer lower fares and more competitive routes for us to fly. Mergers and airline closures not only affect the flying public, but also put people out of jobs.

A healthy airline industry (if we can return to that) employs thousands of people, not just within the airline, but with the aircraft manufacturers, the support staff at the airport, the RedCaps at the curb and many others we often forget about. If a healthy joint venture can keep two large global airlines flying then more people will remain employed.......and I am all for people keeping their jobs!

Happy Flying!

19 June 2008

Win A Camera In Popular Photography's "Photo Makeover Contest!"

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

19/6/2008 - Win A Camera In Popular Photography's "Photo Makeover Contest!"

OK, this is not even close to being travel related, but what traveler does not want a new camera?

PopPhoto's contest is a funky twist on conventional photo contests. In this contest you send PopPhoto you worst photograph (that's right, you send them the photo you really messed up) and then send them that same photo after you have edited it in Photoshop, or gone out and re-shot it, to make it a winner!

What's in it for you? An Olympus FE-250. The Olympus FE-250 is a compact point and shoot, with 8mp, that can shoot at 5 frames-per-second up to ISO 3200! With a focal length range of 35f2.8-to-105f4.7, it seems like a great little camera to toss in your pocket when out on your travels.

You learn all the details, and enter the contest, by visiting PopPhoto's site here :

Don't wait to long, the contest deadline is July 14th.

Good Luck and Happy Flying!

TSA Institutes New Secondary Security Searches At The Gate

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

19/6/2008 - TSA Institutes New Secondary Security Searches At The Gate

This summer the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be making air travel just a little more complex and confusing as it plans to reinstitute additional security screenings at 'the boarding gate.'

The random screening of passengers, who have already cleared TSA security checkpoint, as they enter the gate was stopped quite a while back. The suspension of this practice was a brief moment of joy for frequent flyers, however the TSA is bringing it back this summer and calling it "Aviation Direct Access Screening Program" (ADASP). This new secondary search is intended to include physical hand searches of carry on baggage; secondary search for explosive devises with a mobile detection device; double checking of identification and boarding passes.

A few things come to mind with the double checking of identification and boarding passes at the gate. The TSA does not require you to have proof-positive photo identification. Under the current TSA policies passenger may fly if they have lost or forgotten their photo ID. These passengers are subject to a secondary screening and inspection by a TSA Behaviour Detection Officer (BDO). Once they are determined to not be a threat they are allowed to pass through the security checkpoint.

A concern for photographers should be the risk of significant delay should they be chosen for a secondary hand-search of carry on bags at the gate. Most photographers get to the airport early to allow for extra time in security should they be selected for secondary screenings. At the gate you can't arrive early, as screenings do not begin until the flight has been called for boarding.

Under the previous 'at gate' security checks I missed a flight due to the security check. I had a late connection at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), the gate was closing, I handed over my boarding pass and was told I had just made it (the airline was paging me as I was sprinting). Just as I crossed the door the TSA pulled me aside for a random search. Once the TSA agent opened my bag the airline gate agent's eyes went wide and told me she could not hold the flight for me.

What was in my bag? Two digital cameras, approximately 8 lenses, six camera batteries, four flashes, four Pocket Wizards, laptop, remote-data transmit kit, 4 sets of spare "AA" batteries, chargers for camera batteries and "AA" batteries, and other random accessories.

The TSA screener proceeded to empty my entire bag and inspect each item, both visually and with the 'swab test.' I asked why I was being searched now that I had missed my flight and I was told 'procedure.' A normal full search of my bag is generally 5 minutes, this search took 10 minutes. I am sure it is because the TSA screener knew I had now missed my flight.

The TSA's BDOs will be deployed in airports to visually scan for flyers that appear to have signs of fear, stress or deception. Having spoken to many passengers who have a fear of flying, I can't think of any greater stress than already being terrified of the flying experience, then being approached by a uniformed TSA agent for further questioning. I envision many daily frequent flyers as seeing this as a 'show of force,' rather than an actual security tactic.

Overall the idea of this kind of secondary screening further lowers the public perception of the TSA. This does not heighten the sense of security to the flying public, it gives the impression that the TSA has a significant failure rate at the initial screening check point and that they need to try and rectify that during a secondary search.

A question I have is this. The TSA does not intend to increase its staffing levels, so where is this additional staff going to come from? Many airports already operate with limited potential security lanes closed due to low staffing levels. These security lane closures cause delays and increased passenger wait times. Won't pulling TSA screeners off the front lines for the secondary screening create even lower 'front line' staffing levels an further increase passenger wait times?

It has been interesting to find a few sources stating that the TSA’s ADASP teams find a significant amount of 'banned items' at the Gate Searches. Why do all these banned items make it through the primary screening checkpoint?
This, again, does not make me feel safer. This, again, tells me that the TSA needs the right tools to perform their duties at the primary screening checkpoint, and that the TSA needs to provide its screeners with better training.

So to all you summer flyers, keep this in mind when you pack and when you get to the gate.

Happy Flying!

18 June 2008

Carry On Baggage Etiquette

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

18/6/2008 - Carry On Baggage Etiquette

With airlines continuing to add fees for checked baggage there has been a significant increase in carry-on baggage coming on-board. As the amount of carry-on baggage continues I fee compelled to revisit a topic I have touched on before..... carry on baggage etiquette.

I understand that we all have a need to carry as much as we can on board. I understand that when airlines publish "one carry on + one personal item" we all envision our 22" roll-aboard as our 'carry on' item while our 20' roll-aboard is our 'personal item.'

The truth is this, you can get it on board, if the airline lets you, but you may need to make some concessions. So, here are some basics on carry on baggage etiquette that will bring you good traveling karma, and make life easier as well try and jam as much as we can into our carry on bags.

-Once on-board we all have a tendency to shove as much of our "stuff" in the overhead bins as we can. No one likes having their legs cramped on a flight, especially smaller regional jets, but if you can place your larger bag in the overhead and your smaller bag under the seat in front of you then everyone should have some space in the overhead. The bag under the seat in front of you can be removed from under the seat in front of you and generally positioned behind your legs to increase your legroom while in flight. I know there are always exceptions to this rule, but it generally works for most backpacks and briefcases.

-When placing your bags in the overhead compartment use common sense. Nearly all overhead bins are designed to accommodate a "legal" sized roll-aboard bag. These bags should be placed in the overhead wheels first, not sideways which takes up considerably more space. When placing an item such as a brief case in the overhead try and stand it up so it takes up as little space as possible in the overhead. If you have a coat that needs to go up, wait until the bags have been loaded into the overhead then lay your coat over the top, a coat will often be able to slip in-between some of the gaps allowing more of the overhead bin space to be used.

Be warned, being an overhead bin space hog can lead to 'bad flyer karma.'

Happy Flying!

16 June 2008

Listen To Flying With Fish On The Radio! (well it's a PodCast from the archive now)

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

18/6/2008 - Listen To Flying With Fish On The Radio! (well it's a PodCast from the archive now)

A little while back I was a guest on the popular national radio show Inside Digital Photo Radio, with host Scott Sheppard.

I was honoured that Scott gave me the full hour on Inside Digital Photo Radio and allowed me to discuss not only some of the information I discuss on Flying With Fish, but also a bit about my shooting and my gear. Much of my gear discussion ties into Flying With Fish, in regarding packing and traveling light.

If anyone is interested, I was just sent a link to the archive of the show with the full audio of my interview. If you have the time feel free to listen in at this link:
Steven Frischling/Flying With Fish on Inside Digital Photo Radio

I'd like to thank Scott for his interest and inviting me on the show. I look forward to visiting with Scott and his listeners again in the future!

Happy Flying!

TSA Agents Get A Badge : Should TSA Screeners Have 'Law Enforcement' Shields?

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

16/6/2008 - TSA Agents Get A Badge : Should TSA Screeners Have 'Law Enforcement' Shields?

This morning as passengers lined up for security screening at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) they were greeted by TSA Screeners wearing badges.

I rarely speak negatively about the TSA. I see the TSA as being an agency tasked with a very difficult job, and being forced to navigate the political waters as such a 'young agency.' However in this instance my words may come off negatively. My negativity is not aimed at the front line TSA screeners who do an excellent job day-in-and-day out in securing the traveling public. My issue is with those who will use the new TSA uniform in an manner unfitting of someone wearing a badge and those in the upper levels of the TSA who decided this was a valid solution. These upper-level officials would rather change the uniform, and add a badge, than fixing well documented problems within the front line screening personnel and their interaction with the traveling public.

The new TSA badges are not the yellow patches sewn onto a white shirt or maroon sweater we have grown accustomed to (although the TSA at BWI has been wear a new blue uniform for a few weeks now), these are actual 'law enforcement' style metal badges. In the eyes of many frequent travelers, as well as bona-fide law enforcement officers, there are inherent problems with TSA Screeners wearing badges.

While TSA screeners are required to attend a two-day training program on how to speak with passenger in a 'calm manner' and other related issues before being issued their badges, screeners will not be allowed to wear or display their badges off duty. With the TSA employing well over 45,000 uniformed screeners, and the agency having a current turnover rate of approximately 21.2% for a variety of reasons, this leaves a lot of potential 'federally issued' badges out on the streets being possessed by those who are not actually law enforcement agents.

The TSA hopes that the badges will give the front line screeners more respect from the traveling public. The TSA should probably address its pre-hire screening process and screener training before placing its front line 'public face' into the field if it wishes to gain more respect. There are many (thousands) of documented cases of TSA screeners making up rules on the spot, no matter how incorrect, which in turn leads to misinformation and in-turn a confusing security process for travelers. When confronted by a 'federal agent' in uniform most passengers back down, now with a badge in place I'm sure the cases of intimidation with rise as well.

The many documented cases of under trained screeners, misinformed screeners, screeners who perform 'retaliatory secondary screenings' and the common complaints of 'intimidation,' are what lead to a lack of respect for the TSA's front line. There are many outstanding TSA screeners, but overall the image of the TSA's front line is in need of more professional training rather than a change of uniform.

Aside from the general objections to TSA screeners being issued badges, there are larger implications. What happens when there is a legitimate law enforcement problem in an airport and civilians turn to TSA agents for assistance where they are unable to help? What happens when TSA screeners are commonly mistaken for uniformed law enforcement while walking through an airport or other public area?

How will the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) respond when cases of TSA screeners’ flashing-their-badges start becoming a frequent issue, despite screeners not being allowed to display their badge off duty?

Will the TSA be issuing badges to screeners at airports such as San Francisco International Airport (SFO) where the security checkpoints are not operated by the TSA and the screeners are not TSA employees?

This morning USA Today reported that A.J. Castilla, a spokesman for a TSA Screeners Union, appeared eager to get a badge and is quoted him as saying "It'll go a long way to enhance the respect of this workforce."

Unfortunately I believe that the addition of a badge to the TSA uniform will not bring the screeners more respect. I see the addition of a badge to the TSA uniform as something that will not only bring confusion to the role of a TSA screener to the flying public, but also bring significant resentment aimed at TSA screeners from 'legitimate' law enforcement officers.

Happy Flying!

15 June 2008

Happy Father’s Day!

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

15/6/2008 - Happy Father’s Day!

I'd like to take a moment to wish a Happy Father's Day to all you Dad's who read Flying With Fish.

Today, for Father's Day, my two boys and I went out and explored trains and planes in New York City (I didn't leave my daughter out, she and Mom enjoyed lunch at "American Girl"). My 3.5-year-old son Max decided that for Father's Day he and his brother Simon would go have McDonald's with me while watching planes at the airport.

As Max loves trains we took seven trains today on the way to and from JFK International Airport. Max, Simon and Myself took the subway to the Long Island Rail Road and the Long Island Rail Road to the AirTrain..... or as Max explains it we rode the subway to the commuter train to the AirTrain. After a brief journey we headed over to Terminal 1 to have a relaxing meal of Chicken McNuggets, fries and Powerade while overlooking the planes departing from Runway 31R.

After 'lunch' we rode the AirTrain in a circle, so Max could see all the planes, then headed off to explore two additional terminals (hey, I had homework to do). I really enjoy watching kids and their fascination with airplanes. It is hard enough for many adults to understand the concept of how such a heavy machine of metal effortlessly flies through the sky. For me, watching a child's excitement of watching planes lift off is just priceless.

Max really knows how to make Father's Day special, McDonald's and a large international airport :0)

Below are a few photos from today.

The first photo is of Max on the AirTrain checking out the British Airways and Cathay Pacific tails at Terminal 7. The second photo is of Simon (stroller) and Max (in the seat) on the Long Island Rail Road headed towards Penn Station; photo 3 is Simon sleeping on the uptown R-Train after a long day as Max waits for the next stop and his long awaited trip to a hot dog cart.

Happy Flying & Happy Father's Day!

--Click Images To Enlarge--

...........and one final photo. Max checking out the action in JFK Terminal 4 (while holding a toy JetBlue "Blue York" Airbus A320 in his hands)

13 June 2008

13/6/2008-Weekly Roundup: Go Flying On Fish Winners; Flying With Fish Quoted In Major Newspapers; The Think Tank Skin Set; New Airline Fees!

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

13/6/2008-Weekly Roundup: Go Flying On Fish Winners; Flying With Fish Quoted In Major Newspapers; The Think Tank Skin Set; New Airline Fees!

This week’s weekly round-up begins with this.....the announcement that Flying With Fish will be launching an entirely separate business-to-business venture in the near future. I'd spill the beans now, but I think I need to keep a lid on it for another week. I am really quite excited at the potential this new venture can have, and it should also help me keep Flying With Fish ad free (which has been my goal for quite a while).

I like the idea that Flying With Fish is a free unbiased resource for those seeking information on travel. I like to keep my thoughts unshaped by sponsors and advertisers. The problem with keeping Flying With Fish as a non-revenue generating source is this.....I now have a demanding full-time job (my photography career) and Flying With Fish that occupies roughly the same amount of time as a full-time job. Researching information, tracking down contacts and sources for information, and handling the sheer amount of e-mail I receive takes its toll.

The answer to this? A non-competing entity aimed at business-to-business travel information built on the information I founding Flying With Fish on!

Stay tuned..............

This week Flying With Fish kicked off with the announcement of not one, but TWO, winners of the 'Go Flying On Fish' contest. I could not choose just one winner for the US$100 Southwest Airlines flight credit. Rather than feel conflict on who the winner should be, based on the merits of their contest entries, I chose John Davis is a political science graduate student and aspiring professional photographer, from Sparks, Nevada and I also chose Trenton Moore, a high school student and very talented macro photographer, from Central Florida. You can read why I chose these two contest entrants to each receive a $100 Southwest Airlines flight credit here: 9/06/2008 - 'Go Flying On Fish' Contest Winners Announced.... Yes 'Winners,' I Chose More Than One!!

On Monday and Tuesday of this past week I was prominently quoted in stories in both the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times regarding the new TSA "Self Select Lanes" now in use at some airports. To read how I was quoted, check out these two posts on Flying With Fish
9/06/2008 - Flying With Fish & The TSA Self Select Lanes Quoted In The International Herald Tribune
10/06/2008 - Flying With Fish In The New York Times

This week I wrote a two-part entry on the Think Tank Skin pouch system, and a great way to combine the Think Tank Skin kit with a backpack to turn two carry-on bag kit into a single legal carry on bag for nearly any airline you'll fly. Over the past two months I have traveled with Think Tank Skin kit, flying approximately 45,000 miles through more than half-a-dozen countries, and I don't think I could have designed a better system if I was given an opportunity to create my own pouch system. You can read the details of the Think Tank Skin set in these two entries:
9/06/2008 – Think Tank Skin Pouch & Belt System : Light, Easy & Simple Solution For Traveling With Your Camera Gear
11/06/2008 – Combining Two Bags To Create A Single Carry On For Flying Photographers

The end of this week came with irritating news from both United Airlines and US Airways. United and US Airways have announced that they will begin to charge for the first checked piece of baggage, following the lead of American Airlines. US Airways also announced other changes, such as charging for drinks in-flights, including water, soda and coffee. US Airways has further stripped out their frequent flyer program making it possibly the worst program of any legacy carrier of "global alliance airline" in the world. You can up on the new baggage policy changes here: 12/06/2008 – United Airlines Adds Baggage Fee : US Airways Takes Its Nickel & Dime Tactics To A Whole New Level!

In addition to the new baggage fees being instituted by United Airlines and US Airways, it seems that American Airlines has found a new way to force passengers to check their carry on baggage.

I have heard from multiple frequent flyers that American Airlines appears to now be doing random spot measuring and weighing of carry on bags at their hub in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). This random spot-checking is at times resulting in forced checking of carry on bags and the collection of $15 on the spot for the checked bags. I find this to be a horrible and unethical practice by American Airlines.

Flying in the United States I have only had one airline deny me boarding with my Think Tank Airport Addicted Backpack (which is legal carry on-size). This denial of boarding happened three times, all three times were while connecting flights on American Airlines at DFW back in 2005. This practice, which I have never encountered at any other US airport, or with any other US carrier, had been the single reason why I have chosen to not fly American Airlines in the past 3+ years.

Happy Flying!

12 June 2008

United Airlines Adds Baggage Fee : US Airways Takes Its Nickel & Dime Tactics To A Whole New Level!

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

12/06/2008 – United Airlines Adds Baggage Fee : US Airways Takes Its Nickel & Dime Tactics To A Whole New Level!

The nickel-and-dime tactics started by American Airlines and their slide from 'legacy carrier' to 'low cost carrier’ has started a trend among other US based 'legacy carriers.'

As of this morning United Airlines has followed American Airlines' lead and will begin charging US$15 for the first checked bag as of the 18th of August. To make the even more complex, United Airlines now states that this will apply to all tickets purchased after the 13th of June for travel after the 18th of August.......rather than tickets purchased after the 18th of August.

Flying with two bags? Be prepared to pay US$15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second checked bag....each way. This means 2 bags will cost you $80 round trip!

United Airlines has a somewhat complex schedule set up for baggage fees. If you're flying United Airlines I suggest reading this baggage fee charge: United Airlines Baggage Information

Keep in mind that baggage fees will not be assessed for international travel on United Airlines.

I have long since detailed the nickel-and-dime tactics of US Airways. While US Airways will also be instituting the $15 first checked bag fee, they are taking the nickel-and-dime game to a whole new level! How is US Airways taking these tactics in a whole new direction? Let me tell you

-US Airways will institute charging for all beverages in-flight in economy class. This means juice, water, coffee, and soda. It is expected this fee will be US$2.00 per beverage.

-US Airways will be raising its alcoholic beverage fee from US$5.00 to US$7.00

-US Airways will be soon be charging a US$25 fee for using you 'miles redemption tickets.'

-US Airways will be assessing a US$35 fee for flights to the Caribbean and Mexico using 'miles redemption tickets.'

-US Airways will be instituting an astounding fee of US$50 for booking flights to Europe and Hawaii when using 'miles redemption tickets.'

-US Airways will be eliminating all bonus miles awarded to 'elite frequent flyers' in its frequent flyer program. (I have to say I saw this one coming, which is one of multiple reasons why I ceased to be a US Airways 'Platinum' frequent flyer')

In an interesting twist, most US based Low Cost Carriers have yet to institute checked baggage fees on the first checked bag. JetBlue now charges for the second checked bag, while Southwest Airlines still allows for two checked bags.

As the divide between legacy carriers continues to blur it turns out that low cost carriers are rapidly offering more to their customers at more affordable rates.

Happy Flying!

11 June 2008

Combining Two Bags To Create A Single Carry On For Flying Photographers

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

11/06/2008 – Combining Two Bags To Create A Single Carry On For Flying Photographers

Photographers on the road often try and sort out how to pack what they need while remaining within the carry-on baggage restrictions. With most airlines limiting your carry-on to a "personal item" and a "carry-on" bag, and many airlines further restricting your carry-on to a single "carry-on" bag the task of packing can be challenging.

Over the past few years I have created different bag configurations for different assignments. In the past two years my goal has been to travel as light and compact as possible. Recently I have begun traveling with a self-made combination of the North Face Surge backpack and the Think Tank Skin kit (with Think Tank 'Belly Dance' belt). The combination of these two bags (and the think Tank Skin really isn't a bag, it's a pouch & belt system) can create a low profile bag that is well under the legal carry on sizes for airline travel.

Combining these two bags is an ideal combination that can be set up in about 60 seconds and torn apart in about 30 seconds. To combine the two you simply need two small (non-climbing grade) carabiners and an ultra small 'carabiner key-chain.'

To put the two bags together I stand the North Face Surge backpack up and lay the shoulder straps of the Think Tank 'Belly Dancer' belt system over the back of the Surge. I place the shoulder straps of the 'Belly Dancer' over those of the Surge and link the webbing of the shoulder straps together with carabiners.

After the straps are attached I place the pouches that are affixed to the belt portion of the 'Belly Dancer' at the bottom of the body of the North Face Surge backpack. Using the small loop at the top of Think Tank Skin pouches I the most centered position I keep the Think Tank Skin kit centered and in place using a small key-chain sized carabiner. The small key-chain sized carabiner connects the Skin pouch to the top of the outer most lashing-loops on the North Face Surge backpack.

To keep the Skin kit in place I simple click the belt closed under the Surge's bottom lash tabs and cinch them tight.

I have traveled through airport security checkpoints over the past two months in seven countries and one 'Special Administrative Region', as well as five individual US airports (some of these airports were transited multiple times) and I have not been questioned once about these two bags being transported as one single bag. The cosmetic design of the two bags is similar, the colours are a dead match to each other and the low profile lends it's self to never getting a second glance.

The one kicker for this combo is weight. Some airport weigh carry on bags, however in my experience they only weigh larger bags, such as full-size backpacks or roll-aboard suit cases. I have never had a simple 'book bag' sized backpack weighed.

So for those of you looking for ways to travel more effectively check out this combo for a creative way to pack your 'must haves' in a single legal carry on bag configuration.

When traveling I generally have one body out on my shoulder with either a short 'prime' lens, such as a 14f2.8 or 24f1.4, or a short zoom such as a 16-35f2.8. In the pouches generally I carry 5 lenses, a macro extension ring, flash and my second body, table top tripod, as well batteries, ETTL cord, etc. When I show up to shoot I pull the dividers from the Skin pouches, set it up for work and off I go. Generally reconfiguring my Skin pouches to go from transport to shooting takes me about a minute.

For safety and security while in airports, this combo fits inside the PacSafe 85 anti-theft backpack & bag protector.

Below are the descriptions of the six photos of my North Face Surge and Think Tank Skin combo that follow at the end of this post.

Photo 1: View of the Surge and Think Tank Skin combo from behind
Photo 2: View of the Surge and Think Tank Skin combo from the side
Photo 3: View of the Think Tank 'Belly Dancer' straps overlapping the Surge
Photo 4: View of the carabiners attached to both the strap sets
Photo 5: View of the detail of the carabiner connecting the two sets of straps
Photo 6: View of the small key-chain carabiner holding the Skin in place on the Surge

Happy Flying!

--Click Images To Enlarge Them--

10 June 2008

Flying With Fish In The New York Times

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

10/06/2008 - Flying With Fish In The New York Times

Yesterday the International Herald Tribune wrote a story, in which I was quoted a number of times, on the new TSA Self Select Lanes being set up in certain airports. This morning more than one reader informed me that The New York Times had run a very similar article.

In todays article in The New York Times, which is by the same journalist as the International Herald Tribune's story, I am again prominently quoted for my opinions and experiences related to the new TSA Self Select Lanes (Black Diamond Lanes) being set up in certain airports.

As Flying With Fish continues to grow it is nice to know my opinions are respected and being sought out by others. My goal with Flying With Fish, as it has been from the start, is to simple help inform photographers who must travel for work......and now most anyone who flies for business of pleasure....on how to fly safely, easily, with less stress, and how to be prepared for whatever may await them during their journey from Point A-to-Point B.

If you're interested in reading today's story in The New York Times, you may do so here: Airport Security Lines Separate The Experts From The Families

Happy Flying!

Think Tank Skin Pouch & Belt System : Light, Easy & Simple Solution For Traveling With Your Camera Gear

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

9/06/2008 – Think Tank Skin Pouch & Belt System : Light, Easy & Simple Solution For Traveling With Your Camera Gear

It's no secret that I like to travel quick and light. I am always searching for better ways to bring more equipment, in less space, in a more comfortable manner. For years I used the Newswear belt system and pouches, for a light and compact travel. The Newswear Pouches are rugged, well designed, unpadded and met most of my needs. I often wished there was a "Newswear on steroids" pouch system that met my basic requirements, but gave me that "5%" more I was seeking, the solution to my needs has now been found in the Think Tank Skin pouch system.

I received my Think Tank Skin Set in April, and now a little less than two months after affixing four of the pouches to the Think Tank "Belly Dancer" belt/suspenders, this kit has now flow with me for approximately 45,000 miles. In this short amount of time I have tested the Think Tank Skin pouches, and belt/suspender, system in Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Incheon, Beijing, Hong Kong (twice), Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Washington DC. After all this travel I can safely say I love this system!

My 'kit' of the Think Tank Skin Set consists of the Skin Strobe, Skin 50, Skin 75 and Skin Chimp Cage. These four pouches allow me not only the ability to carry what I need, but also carry it very comfortably and protect it from the elements.

The design of the Skin pouches is simple. The interiors of the larger pouches have Velcro interiors with supplied dividers. This allows you to custom configure your interior to your specific needs. The oversized closure-flap has an exterior zip pocket that is ideal for "AA" batteries, smaller camera batteries, lens caps (the exterior pocket of my Skin Chimp Cage holds a Manfrotto 3007 compact table-top tripod and extension post!)

On the exterior of the pouch, but still covered by the closure-flap is an open 'drop pocket' with Velcro closure. These pocket has been great for larger batteries, such as Canon 1D batteries, ETTL flash cords and the all import need to carry candy bars that you can access and eat quickly while you shoot (WARNING: To not place Cadbury Crunchie Bars between a long lens in the pouch and "AA" batteries in the flap, the delicate nature of the Crunchie Bars they will crumble!)

A brilliant feature of the Think Tank Skin pouches is the ability to 'eliminate' the Velcro sound from the opening and closing of the top flap. This feature has come in extremely handy while shooting weddings. While working in small intimate ceremonies in both Paris and Boston I loved being able to work out of my pouches without the need to go hide in a corner while opening my pouch flaps. The interior Velcro can be flipped 'closed' leaving the pouch flaps 'unlocked,' but allowing the freedom to work in and out of your pouches without fear of everyone staring at you when you reach for a lens. This ability to silence the opening and closing of your pouches is really a great feature for not only wedding photographers, but also corporate and political photographers as well.

One very subtle feature of the Skin pouches often seems to go unnoticed by those who use the system until the need to use it.....the attached sealed rain cover! I had not paid attention to this important feature until I walked outside into a driving rain in Washington DC. This included feature is fantastic!

My kit is attached to the Think Tank Skin "Belly Dancer belt/suspender system. At first I didn't think I'd like the Belly Dancer. While I loved the Newswear Belt System, I was not a fan of the Chest-Vest system. With the Belly Dancer I have found my own way of wearing the system. Occasionally I wear the system as "suspenders" with the pouches in front, however I find I more commonly wear the Skin Set on my right hip, with the strap on my right shoulder and the buckle clipped on my left hip.

I find wearing the Skin Set on my hip gives me not only more comfort for how I work, but I also have less "odd looks" when wearing it in places like airports, or while shooting subjects in front of 'sensitive buildings' such as an Embassy or large public facility like a train station. The less I get watched by security while I am working, the less I am likely to be approached, and thus the more time and less hassle I have to create the images I am seeking to create.

Had I designed a pouch set for myself, to meet my specific needs of not only shooting, but also traveling with all my equipment as carry-on baggage only, I could not have designed a more desirable kit than the Think Tank Skin Set.

.......Stay tuned for tips on how to carry this kit on-board with you when you are limited to one carry one bag!

If you like waist packs (and I still absolutely love my Mountainsmith Tour, this does not replace that set up) and/or you use pouches on a belt system, chances are you'll love this set up!

Below are two photos of me wearing the Think Tank Skin kit. The first photo is of me wearing the Skin kit as it is intended to be worn, which is ideal for climbing. The second photo is of me wearing the Skin kit the way I usually wear it when shooting, which is having the kit strapped to my right hip. Along with these two photos is a photo of a 'rough map' of where my Think Tank Skin Set has flown since I received it less than two months ago.

Happy Flying!

--Click Images Below To Enlarge Them--

09 June 2008

Flying With Fish & The TSA Self Select Lanes Quoted In The International Herald Tribune

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

9/06/2008 - Flying With Fish & The TSA Self Select Lanes Quoted In The International Herald Tribune

For those of you keeping tabs on the TSA's new "Self Select Security Lanes," you can read an interesting article in today's International Herald Tribune. In today's article, in the second paragraph, you might notice a familiar name being quoted.....that would be me, in article's words "Steven Frischling, a photographer from Connecticut who has encountered the new system in Salt Lake City and Boston."

........if you're interested, you can read the International Herald Tribune's article here: U.S. transportation agency expertments with new airport checkpoint system

.....and yes, I did refer to watching some inexperienced passengers as "like watching a 'Saturday Night Live' skit."

Happy Flying!

'Go Flying On Fish' Contest Winners Announced....Yes 'Winners,' I Chose More Than One!!

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

9/06/2008 - 'Go Flying On Fish' Contest Winners Announced....Yes 'Winners,' I Chose More Than One!!

John Davis, of Sparks, NV, a political science graduate student and aspiring professional photographer, takes the "official" top prize of a $100 gift card for travel anywhere within Southwest Airlines' system.

John's goal is to travel between the US/Canadian boarder in Blaine, WA and in Buffalo/Niagara Fall, NY. Starting his observations and research in Blaine, WA John intends to document his interactions at the US/Canadian boarders between Washington State (US) and British Columbia (Canada) he’ll then fly with Southwest Airlines out to Buffalo, NY, watch the interactions at the Buffalo/Niagara Falls boarder crossings at the three boarder between New York (US) and Ontario (Canada).

John hopes to compare the differences between US immigrations agents and Canadian agents. Additionally John wants to see if there is a difference in attitudes and operating procedures between the two boarders that are roughly 2,100 miles (3380km) apart.

John's compelling pitch really caught my attention as I have a considerable interest in the documentation of 'Homeland Security.' I found his pitch detailed, educated and extremely well thought out. I whole-heartedly support the advancement of students and the study of, and documentation of, national security related topics.


While reviewing hundreds of entries for the 'Go Flying On Fish!' one stood out from the rest for it's own individual reasons. This entry was not polished (not that I chose a polished entry), it was not detailed or written in a clean and experienced manner, but it stood out and I kept coming back to it.

The entry is from Trenton Moore, a high school student from Central Florida. Not only did Trenton's words appeal to me, his macro work is wonderful. I really enjoyed the samples of the work he sent me, most of his work is on par with what I expected, but Trenton's macro work and detail work is excellent and should be encouraged and furthered!

What does Trenton want? He'd like to head up to the city I was born in (well one borough over from where I was born) and photograph the iconic buildings that make up the skyline of Manhattan. Bright colours and chrome seem to be his attraction. Considering I started my shooting career in New York, was born and raised next to JFK Airport, and love shooting architecture how could I say no to this request?

I e-mailed Trenton to tell him I needed to get an e-mail from his parents to tell me they were on board with his interest in traveling to New York. Yesterday afternoon Trenton's Mom dropped me an e-mail back that's she'd love to encourage Trenton's interest in photography and is OK with him hopping a Southwest Airline flight to either Islip or Philadelphia than taking the train into New York to shoot what captures his imagination.

.........so now torn between what I considered a clear winner (John Davis) and someone who I wanted to encourage (Trenton Moore) I decided one $100 flight credit on Southwest Airlines was not enough and decided what the heck..... give 'em both $100 towards their journeys!

So John and Trenton...You Are Free To Move About The Country!

Happy Flying!

08 June 2008

Your Last Day To Enter 'Go Flying On Fish!' Don't Miss Your Opportunity Tell Me Why You Want To Travel & Win A $100 Southwest Airlines Gift Card!

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

8/06/2008 - Your Last Day To Enter 'Go Flying On Fish!' Don't Miss Your Opportunity Tell Me Why You Want To Travel & Win A $100 Southwest Airlines Gift Card!

Today, Sunday the 8th of June, is your last day to enter 'Go Flying On Fish!'

I have a US$100 Southwest Airlines Gift Card up for grabs for one lucky reader of Flying With Fish. All you need to do is tell me the following
- Where You Want To Go
- Why You Want To Go
- What You Want To See

............and you could find yourself $100 closer to buying your airline ticket!

Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm EST (GMT -5) on Sunday the 8th of June. The winner will be announced on Monday the 9th of June.

For full details read this: 2/06/2008 - Go Flying On Fish! Tell Me Why You Want To Travel & Win A $100 Southwest Airlines Gift Card!

Happy Flying!

-Southwest Airlines/SWA Is NOT Involved In This Contest In Any Way Shape Or Form
-Announced Chosen Winner Is Final, No Ifs Ands Or Buts
-Enter ONCE (I'll be checking IP Addresses!)
-Entry must contain your legal name that will appear on ticket (so DON'T enter twice)
-Any ticket costs over $100 are the responsibility of the winner
-If you live outside the US you must travel to the US to fly Southwest Airlines

06 June 2008

6/06/2008-Weekly Roundup: Let Fish Send You Flying; Fish On TV; New Visa Rules; Songs To Bring You Home; New TSA Regulations?; Unstable Airfares

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

6/06/2008-Weekly Roundup: Let Fish Send You Flying; Fish On TV; New Visa Rules; Songs To Bring You Home; New TSA Regulations?; Unstable Airfares

This week has been a week of news for flyers. The industry that takes us where we need to go is slipping further into turmoil. With the rising costs of oil forcing airlines to cut costs, a weakening US dollar and recession curtailing both pleasure travel and business travel, the 'desperation' scenarios for airlines seem to rapidly be appearing one after another.

This week Spirit Airlines announces it's plans close its crew bases in both San Juan International Airport (SJU) in Puerto Rico and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York. Additionally Spirit Airlines will seek to shrink its main hub at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Florida. In additional cost saving measure Spirit Airlines will seek to lay off 60% of it's flight attendants and 45% of it's pilots.

United Airlines' announcements this week are broad and drastic. United plans to trim its US domestic capacity by 18% through 2009. In addition to slashing domestic capacity the airline will be parking 100 aircraft from it's fleet. With the reduction of the fleet always comes the reduction of employees. United initially announced the reduction of 500 employees and has now changed this staffing cut to 1,500 employees.

In addition to United Airlines cutting its domestic traffic, parking 100 aircraft (of it's 460 aircraft) has announced that it will be closing down "Ted." Ted is United's internal low cost airline. Many United frequent flyers are not fond of Ted, but as a product when competing with other low cost carriers I found its service on par with other low cost carriers. Of course an airline operating a "sub-fleet" with an airline adds additional costs to the operations.

Continental Airlines, one of the last seemingly stable "legacy airlines" in the United States announced that it will slash 3,000 jobs within the company and ground 67 of it's 368 aircraft. The fate of the 85 aircraft Continental Airlines has on order is currently unknown.

British all-business-class airline Silverjet pushed off for possibly the last time. Silverjet however already has investors lined up, and it is trying to put this well respected airline back into the air as soon as possible. I hope to see Silver Jet in the air again soon.

Hawaiian Airlines has gained ground and revenue from the unfortunate recent closure of Aloha Airlines. With the increase in capacity Hawaiian Airlines has actually added four Boeing 717-200 aircraft to meet this new capacity need. But again, this increase in traffic comes from the demise of a long standing, and storied, airline. With a virtual monopoly on Hawaiian inter-island traffic, the passengers have few alternatives and it does not improve the options for flyers.

In a stunning turn for airlines, but not unexpected given the airlines, Southwest Airlines showed a 7% growth in May 2008! Other airlines are dropping routes, parking aircraft, and SWA flew 6.7 billion passenger miles in May 2008, up from 6.3 billion passenger miles in 2007. For the entire start of 2008 Southwest Airlines' passenger loads are up 8% while other airlines are struggling to retain passengers, cutting perks, adding on additional fees for everything from booking with a reservations agents and checking baggage, yet Southwest Airlines once again defies all other US based airlines.

........now that I've sombered the mood a bit, let's move onto the week in review.

This week kicked off with me offering one of you readers the chance to spread your wings and roam the country! Flying With Fish is offering a $100 Southwest Airlines e-gift card, good for travel anywhere Southwest Airlines flies! All you need to do is tell me where you want to go, why you want to go and what you want to see there. Come on, you're reading this right now, which means you're at your computer.......start thinking about this and let Flying With Fish help you get out and see the United States! You can read all the details here : 2/06/2008 - Go Flying On Fish! Tell Me Why You Want To Travel & Win A $100 Southwest Airlines Gift Card!

Did you miss my tips for getting through airport security on ABC News' Good Morning America? Well, if so, watch my appearance on Good Morning America here: 2/06/2008 - Flying With Fish On Good Morning America : The Video Clip!

This week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the introduction of the new 'eVisa' program for foreign visitors to the United States....and I many of you read the information Flying With Fish hours before it was announced here in the U.S. The new system has its ups and downs, it is more streamlined than then I-94 forms, but the integration and effectiveness of this new program has yet to be seen. You can read additional information on this new registration scheme for those traveling from Visa Waiver nations in this post: 2/06/2008 - New Rules For Foreign Visitors To The United States : Be Prepared

Music keeps us sane on the road. Everyone has their own play lists for various situations. You can find out my play list (and watch some music videos) for reminding me that it's time to end my trip and go home in this entry: 3/06/2008 - Six Songs That Remind Me To Go Home

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has long since discussing changing some regulations and standard operating procedures (SOP). While nothing has been announced, I have posted the changes that seem to be the most credible based on research and verification. If you want to know the potentially soon to be announced changes in the TSA regulations and SOP read this : 4/06/2008 - Are New TSA Standard Operating Procedures On The Horizon?

This week wrapped up with addressing the recent trend of unstable airfares. While I am not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, I offer some suggestion on how to try and potentially hedge your bets when booking flights during these tough and rapidly changing times in the airline industry. For some insights on how to try and beat the system, or at least work with the system, during this time of commercial aviation upheaval you can check here: 5/06/2008 – Unstable Airfares & The Need To Travel : Are There Options?

I'm hoping for a more relaxing and positive week next week!

Happy Flying!