View Full Version : My (brief) Time in New England

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01-01-2008, 08:39 PM
It has come and gone. I finally took my first flight/airtravel with my 12x20 camera.
I managed to find a place close by that sold surplus military Pelican cases.
Picked up a desert tan Pelican 1580 case. It is a beast of a case. Likely weighs in at around 30 lbs all by itself. Loaded with my 12x20 F&S, 3 12x20 holders, 2 dark cloths, 1 jumbo changing tent, and various items (cable release, light meter, etc) the total of the case was around 75lbs. Luckily it has wheels and a long handle so it fairly easy to walk around with and haul through the airport etc.
The case was checked along with my tripod on the flight. The equipment/case and tripod all fair well and nothing was damaged during the 2 legs of the trip out there and back. I did however have one fairly substantial "casualty". One freshly bought and factory packaged box of 25 sheets of 12x20 Efke PL100 film.
The TSA security check point in Manchester, MA decided it was completely and utterly neccesary to open up the one box of completely factory sealed film to inspect and swab it. Ive filed a complaint/claim with TSA as it states in their regulations that film boxes that are factory sealed will not neccesitate being opened and "swabbed" for explosives.
The odd thing about the whole occurence is that the two other boxes I was hand carrying (one box of "exposed/undeveloped" shots, one partial box of unexposed) were NOT opened and "swabbed". They only required that they swab the completely fresh factory sealed box. It actually had to have the seals cut to open it and swab the interior black plastic bag. Low and behold I got home and dev a few random sheets from the "opened" box and had some horribly fogged film.
I think it was an isolated experience as they just didnt understand the concept of a box of light sensitive film existed this large. My flight out there, I had no issues and the TSA supervisor on duty was pleasant and easily understood about the film.

I managed to sneak away from family for 2 afternoons and 2 morning "outings" into the surround area around Petersham, Massachusetts. snow was abundant and it was nice to photograph in some very "different" surroundings than my local Texas landscapes etc.

I thought I would share a few of the images. I came back with a total of 14 sheets of exposed film. Gladly they all turned out nearly spotless exposure/development -wise. There were four that seemed to neccesitate and immediate printing session so I spent some time the last few days printing up four of them.

Just thought I was share some of my travel/carry case/location thoughts.

happy new year all...

in and around petersham, ma. (http://www.matthewmagruder.com/photo/newengland/index.html)

PS, the title is stated with all do respect for the profound work of Mr. Strand and his wonderful book "My Time in New England"

01-01-2008, 09:07 PM
Generally TSA in Manchester are pretty good, I get to see them fairly often. Though I've not gone through with large sheet film. Sorry your experience wasn't so good. I'd be interested, and probably lots of other people here too, at what they have to say in their response to your complaint.
Glad to hear your trip went well otherwise.


01-01-2008, 09:18 PM
Glad to hear your trip went (mostly) well, I haven't been to the Petersham/Orange/Athol area for years, I grew up in Chicopee, and am still trying to make it back to spend some time wandering like I used to do.


david b
01-01-2008, 09:23 PM
Did you ask for a supervisor ?

Drew B.
01-01-2008, 10:03 PM
Manchester, Ma has an airport??? Do you mean Manchester, NH?

oh, fantastic prints..especially the swimming hole.

01-01-2008, 10:10 PM
outstanding. the waterfall seems to even glow on my computer.

what a great project to take it to the TSA with a large camera and make it there and back. As far as film try shipping UPS over night to the first location you are going to and then ship it back with a return label. that way you don't have the hassles of the TSA. I usually ( like going to Yosemite this May) have a camera company like Badger or Freestyle ship over night to my first hotel a day before I get there to make sure it is there before me. and I print up a label for the weight for a return to my business the last day I'm there. most hotels get pick up and delivery so it isn't any problem for them and no charge for them to do it. if at a private residence then just cal UPS for a pick up at the house.

michael andersen

01-01-2008, 10:19 PM
I like the waterfall the best.
Petersham is not exactly a thriving metropolis (I think it's about 1,000 residents?). But one of my former co-workers lives there. Small world!

01-01-2008, 10:44 PM
You were right next door to my home town of Athol!! I know the area well. Wait a minute...
You were out this way and didn't tell any of us?!!!! :mad: ;)
Springfield is just an hour & a half away. I was up to my sister's Christmas day just 15 or 20 minutes away.

Sorry to hear about your troubles with the TSA and good luck with your claim. I hope that you had a good time up here, it is a pretty section of the state.


01-01-2008, 10:52 PM
Sounds like a fairly good trip overall Matt..
Didn't see you mention they charged you for the over 50 lbs case thopugh (?)

My last checkpoint coming back from Michigan, the guy took my box of unexposed tri-x (4x5) and swabbed it, then came over to the table if could open the box anyway. I said I'd rather he not, but he did for a second and I saw the foil pack (which had been opened by me previosly) exposed for that brief time. I think it's more out of curiosity on their part than anything, but is still stupid. He said "sorry"..

I missed the perfect snow the day I left though..

Let us know if the claim works out.

01-01-2008, 11:01 PM
It is a shame that Efke, Foma & Ilford do not use foil pouches that are factory sealed. If they were, they could stand the box being opened. Kodak does, but the ultra large film is only special order on rare occaisions.

Bruce Osgood
01-01-2008, 11:50 PM
Some interesting tid-bits from my trip to Austin at Christmas:

At JFK here in NY they did not look inside either of the two camera bags I had as carry-on. 35mm and 4X5, just pushed them thru the X-Ray. I bought film in Austin.

In Austin the TSA swabbed down the 4X5 container, pulled out the light meter and looked at it closely and rummaged thru the 35mm.

While shooting at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Gardens I was asked three times by different people if I was "Matt, the photographer". I assured them his camera was much bigger.

I did catch the Texas Church Project that you and Mike mentioned and the work is very impressive. I must PM Mike and thank him for the heads up and thank you too.

01-02-2008, 06:44 AM
Bummer about the airport, Matt. We all need to educate those folks whenever possible, it seems.

Glad you had a good trip, and you were in a lovely area. I love the woods. Next time tell us you'll be here, we'll turn you into an honorary New England 'Pugger.

01-02-2008, 07:14 AM
Having only recently tried to shoot outside with my "little" 8x10, I'm in awe of these images, especially since they were done by somebody who doesn't have to put up with this New England weather as a matter of course. Not sure I'd ever go swimming at the "Swimming Hole" - old mill foundations are treacherous places - beautiful in your image, though. Good luck with the TSA complaint and I hope you won't hold it against New England. Crappy weather not withstanding, it can be a great place to shoot. You were, in fact, just at the edge of papagene's favorite stomping grounds and the scene of many fruitful NEAPUG outings, the Quabbin reservoir. Come on back and the coffee (or bev. of your choice) is on us.

01-02-2008, 08:22 AM
Have you guys seen scootermm? I mean the TSA was right on checking everything this guy carries...oh wait, that was someone else ;) ... Sorry Matt, as we discussed on the phone the whole TSA thing was a real bummer, but the bright side it seems is the work you got back with. Can't wait to see them in person (sooner than later I hope!!)

Do keep us posted on the reply from the TSA and Bruce...glad you made it over to the show - if you give us a heads up next time you are down, would love to buy you your beverage of choice..but understand how family visits go.

01-02-2008, 03:54 PM
All, thanks for the kind words.
I had contemplated trying to meetup with a few of you that I knew were in the area. But alas, it was a somewhat "quick" trip (albeit way too many consistant days of family). The time was pretty jam packed with only a few rare instances of being able to get out and photograph. Few hours here and there when others were napping from the xmas turkey meal, etc.
Next time Im up there I plan to meet up with some folks (gene especially).
Its a gorgeous area of the US. So much history and visual stories everywhere you look. These were just my meager attempts at stopping and capturing what struck me emotionally.
It was logistically a bit of a nightmare, especially when shooting the "trees" image, as it was freezing rain and getting a film holder from the cab of the truck into the camera, darkslide pulled and reinserted without water getting on anything was a bit trying... but seemed all the while to be worth the effort. Plus I managed to haul that beast of a camera/case up there and damn if I wasnt going to come back with at least a few shots :)

PS, I do believe you are right it must have been Manchester, NH... coming from a state as large as Texas, I get a little confused when you can drive two hours in New England and go through 3-4 different states :)

David Brown
01-02-2008, 04:20 PM
PS, I do believe you are right it must have been Manchester, NH... coming from a state as large as Texas, I get a little confused when you can drive two hours in New England and go through 3-4 different states :)

I know what you mean, Matt. I was in Andover a few months ago, and thought I'd see how long it took to get to New Hampshire after work one afternoon. Ended up in Maine! :o

I think here in Texas we call the equivalent sized geographical areas "counties".

... or maybe "ranches" ;)

Jon King
01-02-2008, 06:18 PM
I know what you mean, Matt. I was in Andover a few months ago, and thought I'd see how long it took to get to Hew Hampshire after work one afternoon. Ended up in Maine! :o

I think here in Texas we call the equivalent sized geographical areas "counties".

... or maybe "ranches" ;)

Matt, It also doesn't help that the forefathers in New England didn't really value originality in names - there is a Manchester in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut!.. somehow Rhode Island missed out:rolleyes:. New Hampshire is the one with the 'big' airport though.

01-04-2008, 09:15 AM
The case was checked along with my tripod on the flight.

Do you know that camera gear is not covered by the airline in the event of loss?

I did not, until I had a bag get lost. Luckily it was recovered. Basically anything other than clothes is not covered : cameras, tripods, computers, art, cash ...

also I usually just let my film go through the scanner at the security checkpoints, I have not noticed any problems and they never take it out of the bag. But I only work up to 8x10. Sometimes when I visit my family (in RI) i'll use USPS to send the film back and forth

01-04-2008, 10:31 AM
Do you know that camera gear is not covered by the airline in the event of loss?

VERY good point dan, and I did in fact get my camera stuff covered with my home owners insurance, in the event of loss. Did this right before I went on the trip and USAA allowed for it to be covered for airline travel, But I did have to specifically add a clause to my coverage agreement.

01-04-2008, 07:15 PM
You were literally just down the road from me(4or 5 miles). Next time your are in the area let me know and perhaps we could meet up. The boat and swimming hole are at Brown's Pond. The swimming hole really is a great place to swim for local folks. The water from there ends up in Quabbin, which is Boston's water supply.
Great shot of the mill dam!