Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

November 2006

Tip of the Month

Liquids in Your Levels,
and a Reminder about
checking carry-on luggage on small planes

Recently the restrictions on carrying on small amounts of liquids onto airlines have been lifted. As of this writing, drinks purchased after clearing security can be carried on to a plane. Larger quantities of liquids, checked in carry-on luggage, are not allowed.

However, things may change again, which leads to this Tip of the Month. Recently, and just before the 'small quantities' of liquids ban was lifted, I almost had my CAMERA LEVELS confiscated as I went through security. Fortunately, the camera levels I normally use are not the expensive Hammon's hotshoe-style levels but are, instead, very inexpensive 'key-chain' levels I purchased for a few dollars from a chain hardware store.

These levels are attached, via a loop ring, to my camera straps so that I can place a level on top of a hotshoe or on the side of my Really Right Stuff L-bracket. They work just as effectively as the hotshoe-style level, but unlike a hotshoe mount, it's virtually impossible to lose one since it can't fall out of a hotshoe! My first hotshoe level lasted less than an hour, before it slipped off the hotshoe mount as I walked through the tundra in Denali NP. The keychain style is permanently attached and can't be lost.

It never occurred to me as I packed that I had a liquid in my carry-on, as my levels were a part of the camera by this time. Now, I suspect, a level may be allowed, but I'm not certain of that, and I'm going to play it safe and pack mine in my checked luggage before I fly again.

One other point - When British Air had their recent terrorist plot foiled - the one involving liquids - BA prohibited carry-on luggage, requiring all to be checked. If you were a FILM SHOOTER, this could have posed a very serious problem because of the high intensity scans that checked luggage is subjected to, and, if film was checked, it'd be zapped and ruined. I don't know how BA handled that issue, but if it comes up again, film shooters must beware.

Finally, although I've addressed a 'work-around' for those flying small planes where a carry-on piece might be taken at the gate and stored in the luggage compartment, I've got to reiterate this message again. If you have a carry-on piece that you hope to take onto the plane with you, but it is taken from you at the gate, and handed back to you when you exit the plane, DO NOT ASSUME that the carry-on luggage will be handled gently. Last year, on a trip to Africa, a friend had his new 200-400 Nikon zoom broken when they took his bag, and this year, before a Yellowstone trip, another friend had his laptop broken - it was stowed in a backpack designed for camera gear and a computer.

My solution - I remove all the valuable equipment from the carry-on case before they take the bag. I carry a nylon stuff sack to put my camera bodies in, and I'll carry my big lens over my shoulder (via the lens strap), and take these onto the plane. The issue on small planes isn't space, it is dimensions - and a long lens and some camera bodies will fit into a small overhead, or beneath the seat in front of you, if they are not in a big carry-on case. For more on this, please read one of our previous Tips of the Month on this subject.

Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


ProShow Gold
Digital Slide Program

Workflow and Workload -
You Can Keep Ahead

  New Lens Covers for
Long Lenses

 Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings

 Effective Cloning in Adobe CS2

 The Helicon Focus Filter Revisited

 Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings

 Keep Your Head Up
 The Best All-Around Lens

 The Pond-A Must-See shooting Location in southern Arizona

 DIGITAL- Digital Birding

 DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future

 DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II

 Capture 1's Most Useful Features

maximizing depth of field digitally

  Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think

 DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values

 NPN- Nature Photography Network - a digital forum for nature photography

 Digital Pro Image Management Software

 Watch Your Backgrounds
The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format

 A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society

 Save Your Equipment from Crashing!

 The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper

At the Pulse of Life
by Fritz Polking

 Carry Your Gear!

 Shooting in Inclement Weather

 Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights

 Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash

 Ask Questions
Before You Go

 Seize the Moment!

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work 

 Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography

 How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari

 The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Padding Your Wimberley
Tripod Head

  Specular highlights and the flashing frog
 Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds  Testing your Flash's Aim
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!  If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation  How do you shoot the Moon?
  Low level tripod work  A great depth of field guide  Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate

 Sigma's 120-300mm F2.8 APO HSM zoom lens

 Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

 Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO
zoom telephoto lens

 Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters

 Sighting in a very, very long lens
 The Nature Photography Network - a super website for images and information
  Take a Workshop First   Luck, what is it?  Don't take in baby wild animals

  Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

 Disconnect -- travel precautions

Photograph America Newsletter
 Wildlife Portraiture

 Obey the Rules
The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites Bushnell Night Vision Optics  Adobe Photoshop 7 for $300

 The Sibley Bird Guides

 Removing Cactus Spines

 Drying out boots with newspaper

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