April 18, 2017

Flying With Batteries

Plus, free parks maps, new conference booking, Chimani Perks program and more …

Good morning from Joshua Tree National Park! I arrived last night with Lance Keimig to start on-site preparations for our National Parks at Night workshop here April 21-26. We have a seat left, if you’d like to sign up and hop on a plane! While out here, I’ll also be delivering a presentation with Lance April 27 for the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park, titled “Night Photography in the National Parks.”

After that I’ll be heading to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to teach a night photography workshop with Tim Cooper May 7-12 (also a seat remaining for that!), then will meet with Lance again for NPAN’s workshop at Cape Cod National Seashore May 21-24 (that one’s sold out).

Old Harbor Life-Saving Station, Cape Cod National Seashore

I’m very much looking forward to spending the next few weeks in these amazing parks that are quite different from one another—the desert ecosystems of Joshua Tree, the rural refuge of Cuyahoga Valley and the mesmerizing coastline of Cape Cod. For info on all three workshops, see www.NationalParksAtNight.com.

A few more items before we get to this week’s Q&A:

  • Planning a park shoot? I always recommend using a map to make location notes during pre-shoot research. That’s a whole lot easier now that a park ranger has collated maps not just of the national parks, but also the harder-to-find maps of specific areas within the parks. They’re all available for free download at the aptly named National Parks Maps website.
  • When you’re traveling to those parks, want to save some money? Chimani, my favorite maker of park travel guide apps, this week launched a Perks program that offers discounts for many products and services in, around and related to the national parks. I highly recommend checking this out.
  • A few weeks ago the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit announced its list of 2017 speakers. Guess who’s on it … Yep, me! I’m very excited to be a part of this great event. The Summit is in its third year, held right at the edge of one of our most beautiful national parks. This is an intimate event, limited to 200 participants, and features many daily talks and outings. See the website, linked above, for more information and to register.
  • Finally, along the same lines, I’d like to thank the B&H Event Space, The Photo Brigade and Connecticut’s Charter Oak Photographic Society for all hosting me to speak over the past several weeks. I hope to see many of you at events and speaking engagements in the future.

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Q.  What do you make of the new airline regulations restricting rechargeable batteries? Can we still travel with them? When shooting, I use so many batteries that it would cost me a fortune to buy as many un-rechargeable ones as I would need.Donald H.

A. First, I agree 100 percent that using rechargeable batteries is a great idea for photo gear. I use them for my geotracker, flashlights (for safety and light painting), laser measure (for measuring hyperfocal distance), flash, and so on. Buying replacement batteries would cost a fortune, not to mention increase the size of my alkaline footprint.

But no worries—we can still carry rechargeable lithium ion batteries on a flight. We just have to do it a little differently than we used to.

Here are the two main rules we need to know about:

We cannot place uninstalled lithium batteries in a checked bag. They must be in carry-on bags. This pertains even if a flight attendant stows your carry-on in the baggage hold because if it doesn’t fit in an overhead bin, for example; in such cases, you would still be required to remove the lithium batteries and keep them with you in the cabin. No problem—that’s easy.

  1. The batteries must be carried in a way that prevents them from touching end-to-end. In other words, my old method of dumping them all into a Ziploc bag is no longer compliant with FAA regulations.
  2. The second point is also not much of a problem to resolve. I’ve begun using StorACell battery holders (see picture, above). They’re light, inexpensive, and they keep the FAA happy. There are other brands, but these were my favorite when I researched them. StorACell packs come in several colors (including glow-in-the-dark), and are made for AA, AAA, 9V, C4, C123, D4 and more battery sizes.

Moreover, the StorACell packs have the added benefit of keeping my batteries more organized. The batteries are all together, color-coded by type (I use black for AAA and green for AA), and I can easily “mark” a used battery by simply snapping back into the holder upside down.

For more on the new regulations, see the FAA page on the matter. See the StorACell website for more info, or buy from my favorite photo-gear supplier, B&H Photo.

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