Guest Posts From My Favourite Bloggers : Jack Howard – The Voice Behind Adorama’s TechTock Blog & PodCast…and an all around nice guy

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21/09/2009 – Guest Posts From My Favourite Bloggers : Jack Howard – The Voice Behind Adorama’s TechTock Blog & PodCast…and an all around nice guy

As a photographer, traveller and airline industry geek there are a few blogs I read on a daily basis. With the broad range of readers that Flying With Fish attracts I’d like to introduce to you folks to the bloggers I follow.

Today’s guest post on Flying With Fish comes from Jack Howard. Jack is is the Director of Social Media for Adorama Camera, the voice behind Adorama’s TechTock blog & podcast; the author of the book Practical High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers…and the former Editor of Popular Photography Online. Jack also enjoys chasing dog through the woods when he is able to escape his home in New Jersey. You can follow Jack and the TechTock Blog on Twitter at

Here is Jack’s guest post…

Fish invited me to be a guest blogger, and before I had a chance to think about it, I said “sure! I can bang out some copy on Sunday morning.” Without further ado, here’s a blast of short anecdotes, deep thoughts, and random ramblings on photography and travel.

If I would, I’d do all my travel by dirigible

I’m a pro photographer, and I usually travel by air a handful of times a year for a mix of business and pleasure. For me, flying is simply a necessary evil to overcome the distances between my home base and where I need to be.
If I had it my way, all my air travel would be by dirigible. If you’ve never been so lucky as to ride in an airship, this is one of those things to try do wrangle your way into at some point in your life–even if it is just for an hour or so touring flight, and not my dream of a transatlantic crossing in an ultramodern lighter than air vessel.

If you’ll notice, most blimps are giant flying advertisements, and if you are a news or pro photographer, you’ve got a chance of talking your way onboard for a flight via the advertiser’s media relations department. Do some digging, do a little research and there’s chance you’ll find your way on-board.

The experience of riding in a blimp can best be described as a strange cross between a chopper and a rowboat. They call them airships, but really, it’s more like a skyboat. Another thing to keep in mind should you chat your way onboard: the windows on many small airships open, so be sure to bring and use a camera strap.

The best hotel safe I’ve ever seen and a travel blog concept for someone

I’ve done a fair bit of travel through the years, and I am hooked on TripAdvisor for getting the skinny on hotels, and SeatGuru for finding out if I got saddled with the worst seats on the plane, but there’s still a niche travel blog concept for someone, somewhere.

As I travel with a decent camera kit for both business and personal trips, in-room safes are a must for me. As we all know, the classic standard room safe can hold the basic photojournalist kit: A couple of SLR bodies, an ultrawide zoom, standard zoom and 70-200 f/2.8 lens, a strobe or two, a few small primes, a compact camera, the iPod/iPhone, passports, and jewelry, with some careful wedging.

I’ve seen variations on this safe in my travels, and have also come across the new power-socket equipped “laptop” models in a few business hotels. I’ve also seen some strange in-room safe issues, such as a resort in Bermuda that had the world’s shallowest safe (It was like a locking medicine cabinet from the ‘50s), world’s lamest “safe” at an otherwise spectacular hotel in a castle in French wine country (it was a tiny locking door on a minifridge/TV stand backed by luan wood), and worst positioned standard safe at a resort in French St. Martin (under the vanity, right next to the French style tub/shower.)

But in all my travels, I’ve never come across an in-room safe as spacious as the one at the Grand Hyatt Kauai ! This thing was almost bigger than my carry-on luggage. I could have easily fit a couple of 400/f2.8 lenses in this thing! Of course, I have a habit of bringing much more gear on trips than I ever actually use, but wow, this safe just floored me.

I usually try to ask folks on the TripAdvisor forums about in-room safes (or is that “saves”?), but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders in advance if the in-room safe at this hotel or that resort is up to snuff. I’d add it to my list of pre-trip research sites, were someone to start this up.

In-flight rules I wish were enforceable

I originally posted bits of this on a SportsShooter thread talking about a bill to enforce carry-on regulations.

Let’s start enforcing many other things on flights as well:

1: Get out of your seat using the arm rests of your seat to hoist your girth to a bipedal position. No more of this bear-hugging the back of my seat while I’m napping to yoink yourself up and out of your chair.

2: No food items involving oceanic ingredients of any sort whatsoever shall be permitted on flights. I’m sorry, but some of these souplike things sold in various airport cafes involving fish-ish things are simply vile in an enclosed space.

3: After the third time a child traveling with a parent kicks the back of your chair with no reprimand from said parent, you may challenge the parent to an aisle-sumo contest for primacy in the pecking order of your geo-adjacent pack. And then you may reprimand said kicker child to your heart’s content.

4: Inflight movies and television programs should be fluffy and inconsequential. Bugs Bunny cartoons are always good. Iron Chef America is usually ok, except when squid or octopus or large amounts of butchering are involved. Newer seasons of Meerkat Manor are pushing the bounds of acceptability. Sorry, but “Most Dangerous Catch” and “Deep Impact” aren’t really all that conducive to relaxed and stress-free travel.

5: As anyone who has ever traveled one leg of a journey in first class and the next in coach, the caste system is alive and well within the airline industry, and woe, the fates be fickle and evil creatures. It should be a rule that flight attendants and gate trolls treat all passengers with equal respect and courtesy.

6: When stuck in the middle seat between two solo passengers in coach, you should be allowed to freely make Tyrannosaurus Rex ululations and vocalizations as you struggle to read, eat, and otherwise survive in a space much smaller than is humanly comfortable for creatures with non-vestigial arms and elbows.

Special corollary to #6:

When stuck in the middle seat between two travelling companions–who refuse to swap the middle for either the aisle or window, and whom repeatedly invade your personal space with their conversation and item passing back and forth–not only may you roar like a T. Rex at your whim, you may also freely bite any arms that come within snapping distance.

7: Not really a rule, but I’d like to start putting an impact-alarm that makes a crunching and smashing sound inside my camera bag, as a late-boarding passenger attempts to wedge an oversized piece of carry-on junk into the crammed overhead compartment–just to see if it would garner any reaction.

8: On any journey where the flight attendants somehow manage to fill the back of the cabin with acrid smoke and burning smells because they hit the wrong button on the sandwich timer, vodka should be considered a therapeutic beverage and immediately be distributed freely and liberally to all passengers. (The first part of this really happened midway through a transatlantic flight from Lisbon to EWR!)

Remember to always enjoy the journey

I’ve been lucky enough to travel with friends and family to some pretty amazing places, and I look forward to many more journeys with my favorite traveling companion, my wife Corey.

Our journeys have had some bumps along the way, like the time we arrived in St. Lucia for our honeymoon minus most of our checked luggage. We had cameras, iPods, one change of clothes and our snorkel gear when we arrived at the resort. Eventually, our checked bags showed up, but what could we do but go enjoy an island lunch and relax?

We’ve snowmobiled out to Old Faithful in the midst of a Rocky Mountain blizzard, and as you can see, it wasn’t really an amazingly photogenic sort of day at the Geyser. But we enjoyed the journey. And we had to laugh about it again when we recently climbed a ridge road in Kauai . It’s a lesson I think applies not only to scenic drives on holiday, but equally, if not more importantly, to the trials of daily life. Wherever your journeys take you, always take the time to enjoy the journey.

Jack Howard is the Director of New and Social Media for Adorama Camera (, and lead blogger for their TechTock blog ( and host of the TechTock Podcast (Listen on iTunes here:, or via embedded player here: Jack is the author of Practical HDRI, High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and a semi-retired news photographer with photo credits in newspapers including the New York Times, the Star-Ledger, The Home News Tribune, Asbury Park Press, Daily Record, and more. Jack is a former online Editor of, the online portal of Popular Photography and American Photo magazines.
Based in Central Jersey, Jack enjoys being in other places quite frequently, but regards the air-transit segment of travel to be a necessary evil between here and there. He’s serious about yearning for the return of dirigibles, but isn’t holding his breath. When he’s got a random obtuse flight-related question, he usually pings Fish before bothering with Google.

All images © Jack Howard






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