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This Thursday night I’ll be in what’s becoming a very familiar place starting a very familiar process. The destination may change, but each time I refine the procedures and the equipment to make it faster and safer for me. I’m talking of course about my trip to Knob Creek, Kentucky to get you all pictures and video of the machine gun shoot. I thought it might be interesting to step you through what I’m taking and why it works for me to bring you all the best coverage of firearms events on the internet . . .

This will be the fourth trip I take for TTAG this year, and the third time going through Regan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. The first trip was for the NRA convention in Pittsburgh, then off to the NDIA Symposium in Indianapolis, and most recently the Advanced Armament Corp. factory in Atlanta. Something different I’m trying this trip is flying with a firearm.

We’ll get to the gat, but let’s talk about the electronics.

Sorry for the crappy picture, but that’s my normal camera sitting there in the photo.

For almost every picture I’ve ever posted on this site I use a Panasonic DMC-G2 micro four thirds “DSLR” camera. The micro four thirds standard was designed to make an extremely small camera, so Panasonic threw out everything that wasn’t needed. Like the mirror. Which is why I put “DSLR” in quotes, as having a mirror is the defining quality of a DSLR camera. The lens is half as far away from the sensor than with a regular DSLR, which allows the sensor to be 40% smaller but retain competitive image quality with the “big boys.” That also means that lenses can be smaller and lighter. The upshot is that the camera is smaller, lighter and more portable than normal DSLRs and better for taking video (as the viewfinder is a LCD screen and so keeps working while the video is rolling).

FYI, that lens I have on there is a Panasonic 45-200mm (or 90-400 in a 35mm camera) f/4.5. I’m thinking that the shallow depth of field will be nice for teasing some order from the chaos of the firing line. I also have the kit 14-42mm f/3.5 lens handy just in case I need a wider view or a larger aperture (night shots, for example).

Also in my bag of tricks are a couple video cameras — two handheld / tripod mounted, one on a headband, and one very small one I can clip to my shirt. I also have two tripods, one “main” tripod and a small spare that fits in a pocket of my bag.

Speaking of bags, I use County Comm’s Bail Out Bag. There’s tons of velcro pockets on the outside, oodles of space on the inside, and everything is padded. It’s perfect for carrying camera equipment around and finding things when you need them.

This little fella is what I’ve been using since the first trip to post updates to the site, an Asus Eee-PC running Fedora Linux. It’s not the most powerful thing in the world, but it gets the job done. I swapped out the mechanical hard drive inside for a solid state drive when I first bought it, which means I am completely solid state when I travel. Whether there’s turbulence or I just drop my bag a little hard I know that everything will work when I get to my destination and hard drive failure is an extremely remote possibility.

The EMT patch is a little bit of social engineering. There is such thing as “professional courtesy” among first responders, and a flash of my local Fire & Rescue ID has a tendency to dispel bad situations. Flight attendants also seem to have a soft spot for those who might be useful on a flight, and even if they’re not in the mood for “random” upgrades it doesn’t hurt to try.

Everything to this point has been carried before, tested thoroughly, and lets me speed through the airport. This is the new factor in the equation, which will undoubtedly add at least an hour to my travel time but will make driving around the middle of nowhere Kentucky a little less disconcerting. I’ve got myself a Pelican case, my trusty 1911 (which is soon to be replaced by a Wilson Combat 1911), a box of Hornaday .45 ACP hollow points and two magazines stashed inside. I’ve talked to some people who do this regularly and they say this is a good setup, but just in case I have the block of foam that goes where the ammo is stashed ready to be slotted back in at a moments notice.

This weekend will be interesting for many reasons. Pictures of machine guns, meeting our readers, flying with firearms… Lots of things I’ve never done before, and some I know I love doing. I can’t wait, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

The lead photo I took shortly after takeoff (~10 seconds) from DCA en route to the AAC HQ. DCA is located directly across the river from Washington, D.C. and provides passengers with some great views of the monuments.

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  1. …”kit 14-42mm f/3.5 lens handy just in case I need a wider view or a larger aperture (night shots, for example)”.

    LOL, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard a f/3.5 referred to as a “larger aperture”! That’s the photographic equivalent to stepping up to a 9mm for “larger wound channels”. Enjoy the trip and travel safe! I have a hard enough time traveling with a small DSLR (D40 or D90 for trips) and laptop. I can only imagine the fun it would be to travel with a handgun on top of it!

    • I have a f/1.3, but it’s a fixed 50mm and autofocus takes forever. I’d rather just crank the ISO on the f/3.5, especially in such a dynamic environment.

      How do you like that D40?

  2. Hope to see you there Saturday. As far as your firearm, they won’t let you pack it loaded and they’ll also put a wire tie through the barrel. Have a safe flight.

        • I’m flying with the things that matter (camera, laptop, etc) in my carry-on luggage because I would be exceedingly screwed if anything happened to them. So what I’m planning on doing is declaring the little yellow pelican case and sticking it in a larger duffel bag. TSA compliant, but less likely to be noticed by baggage carriers as a firearm.

          Next time I’ll order some mortar cases. That will be fun going through Regan National.

  3. “Middle of nowhere Kentucky?” This my home you’re talking about!

    FWIW, you’re probably much less likely to *need* that 1911 around here than you are in northern VA. 😉


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