Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

August 2007

Two Tips of the Month

Positioning your Roll-on Carry-On bag

On many jets, a 19" roll-on carry-on bag may fit in the overhead bag bin, but when sliding the bag in sideways you'll be taking up a lot of space, or, if you're not first in the bin, you may find you don't have enough space to do so. While it may seem obvious, most overhead bins can accommodate a 19" bag if the bag is slipped in top-first, so that the roll-on wheels are facing toward the aisle.

On a related note, remember NEVER to allow your carry-on bag to be taken from you, even when flying on small planes where there is no overhead space. I'm not saying you'll be able to carry the bag on -- you may not, unless you're flying with a spouse or friend who doesn't mind having a bag stuck beneath the seat in front of you, compromising leg room. In that case, no problem. However, if you cannot take the bag on board, simply REMOVE THE CONTENTS and hand-carry your cameras or lenses on board. To do so, you might need a nylon stuff sack, but either way, you're likely to be able to get either a stuff sack or the equipment in either space -- in the overhead or at your feet.

Since there are two of us traveling, Mary generally carries the roll-on with our two 500mm lenses, or rarely, her 500 and my 600, and before we board she unzips the roll-on and removes the lenses, carrying both aboard over her shoulder. We then place these in the overhead, generally insulated by the plane's flimsy blanket or one of our jackets. I'll carry my roll-on on to the plane -- sometimes having to assure the flight attendent that it will fit beneath our seat -- and then the two of us share a somewhat compromised leg space. This won't work if you're traveling alone, unless you're lucky enough to be on a plane where where you have the seat next to you empty!

While I've covered this topic before (Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights) we recently shared a bus ride to the airport with a pilot and he shared with us the horror stories he'd seen with carry-on luggage. The best story (well, the worse) was the guys he watched toss carry-on bags over their heads and behind them, tossing the bags high and blind to the luggage cart.

Tip of the Month, Two!

Western Digital portable external Hard Drives

Western Digital is now marketing a portable 250 gb external hard drive that is powered by your laptop or desktop computer. It's small, about the size of a thin pack of cigarettes, and weighs only a few ounces. The HD comes with a USB cable, with a mini-USB male plug on one end and a traditional USP male plug on the other. Previously I'd used Lacie external 250 gb hard drives, but these were approximately three or four times the volumn of the Western Digital, and the Lacie required its own AC power.

The Western Digital HDs are available in several smaller sizes, but at $160 for 250 GB I figure I'll be safe in backing up both my files and Mary's on any trip we take. However, we bought three -- so that each of us can constantly backup as we are downloading, and the third as a final insurance copy to backup each of our files. In fact, I also back up on Mary's, and Mary on mine, so we have three backup copies, and perhaps a fourth still on our computer. We were glad we had three external backup drives because we shot so much in both Denali and on the Bear trips that we had to clear our C-drive on our laptops to accommodate more files. I felt much more comfortable having our files on three separate HDs once I removed them from my laptop.

We purchased our Western Digitals from a big carton store -- Circuit City, but Best Buy, and I'm sure most mail-order computer stores, as well as some camera catalog companies will also have them for sale.




Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


CS3 Upgrade
Framing with a Telephoto Against a Desert Sunrise

Adobe Photoshop LIGHTROOM
Workflow and Workload - You Can Keep Ahead
Bring along a Point N Shoot

Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
maximizing depth of field digitally
Capture 1's Most Useful Features
DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values
Effective Cloning in Adobe CS2

Watch Your Backgrounds - The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format
DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future
DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II
The Helicon Focus Filter Revisited



Frankly access your skills before deciding upon a workshop
The Songs of Insects
- a super book on katydids, cicadas, and grasshoppers
A Great Insect Field Guide 
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
The Pond-A Must-See shooting Location in southern Arizona
Don't take in baby wild animals
Seize the Moment!
Take a Workshop First
  Luck, what is it?
At the Pulse of Life by Fritz Polking
Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights


New Lens Covers for Long Lenses
The Best All-Around Lens
Keep Your Head Up
Save Your Equipment from Crashing!
The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper
Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash
Testing your Flash's Aim
The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds
Specular highlights and the flashing frog

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work
Shooting in Inclement Weather
Low level tripod work
Sighting in a very, very long lens
Padding Your WimberleyTripod Head
Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate
How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari
How do you shoot the Moon?

If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation
Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!
A great depth of field guide
Carry Your Gear!
Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters
Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO zoom telephoto lens


A Car Tip that could Save Your Life
A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society
Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

Ask Questions Before You Go
Liquids in your Levels - TSA Warnings!

Disconnect -- travel precautions
Photograph America Newsletter
Obey the Rules
Wildlife Portraiture
Drying out boots with newspaper
Removing Cactus Spines

The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites
The Sibley Bird Guides



Contact us by e-mail:

Or FAX us at: (717) 543-6423.