DENNIS L. MAMMANA

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PHOTOGRAPHERS' TRAVEL SUGGESTIONS
 

Digital media cannot be harmed by x-ray machines at airport security stations.  Film, on the other hand, can be.  Please take the proper precautions listed below.
 
New Baggage Scanning Equipment Can Jeopardize Your Film:   Because your pictures are important to you, this information is presented as an alert to travelers carrying unprocessed film. Over the past two years new FAA-certified explosive detection systems have been used in more than 50 U.S. airports to x-ray checked baggage.  This stronger scanning equipment is also being used in many non-US airports. The new equipment may fog any unprocessed film that passes through the scanner.  
   
Suggestions for Avoiding Fogged Film:   X-ray equipment used to inspect carry-on baggage uses a much lower level of x-radiation that should not cause noticeable damage to lower ISO film if it gets zapped only once. However, baggage that is checked goes through equipment with higher energy X-rays. Therefore, take these precautions when traveling with unprocessed film:
    
Never place single-use cameras or unprocessed film in any luggage  baggage that will be checked. This includes cameras that still have film in them.
 
If security personnel inform you t hat your carry-on baggage must be stowed with the checked luggage or that it must go through a second scan, you should remove your unprocessed film.
 
Have your exposed film processed locally before passing through airport security on your return trip (if possible).
 
Request a hand search of your film, especially if you're going to be traveling through multiple X-ray examinations.  Depending on how busy they are, screeners may not do it, but it's worth asking.  To make it easier for security personnel to do this, remove all your film from their boxes and plastic holders, and carry it in a clear, zip-lock bag.  This way security personnel can simply glance at the film to make sure itís OK. 
 
If you're asked to step aside for a more thorough search of your carry-on baggage, be aware that film could be harmed and you should take it out of your luggage.
 
Lead-lined bags, available from photo retailers, will weaken the x-radiation's effect on film and reduce potential harm.  However, your bag will almost certainly be pulled for further inspection because of it.
 
Be polite, helpful and patient.  Remember that security personnel are trying to protect us all.
 
Consider shipping to yourself all of your unexposed or unprocessed film through an expedited carrier, but first check with the carrier to determine what package examination procedures they are using.  I've used U.P.S. and Federal Express successfully in the past.
 
[Dennis' Recommendation:  With film unwrapped and in a clear plastic bag, request a hand search by airport security personnel, or ship the unprocessed film directly to your destination.]
 


― Dennis Mammana

 

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