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Why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is So Good

Another “Star Trek” series? Yep! And this is the one we’ve been waiting for. Here’s my review…

I’ve been a “Star Trek” fan since I was a kid, when I watched reruns of the original series. (My mom would often organize dinner with my dad around me watching Kirk, Spock and Bones at 6pm on WPIX.)

I’ve stuck with the entire Trek universe across all of these decades, and I’ve generally enjoyed every iteration.

Born from “Discovery”
“Star Trek: Discovery” has been the main “Trek” property over the past few years. It’s felt heavy at times and has gone through narrative course corrections in each of its seasons.

Honestly, it’s been a bit too dark and stiff for me. Universal destruction is always just around the corner. Yes, the writers keep adding lines about how the crew is family and how much they love each other. Yes, there’s a lot of hugging and tears. But, I just don’t feel it. Not really.

When a younger Starship Enterprise showed up in season 2 with Captain Christopher Pike, played by Anson Mount, the positive change in energy was dramatic. Sure, it was a gamble giving us another Spock, played by Ethan Peck, but it worked. Plus, we saw Pike’s bold Number One, played by Rebecca Romijn. And instantly, I wanted the storytelling to stay with this younger pre-Kirk Enterprise.

And clearly, I was not alone.

Hit It
Now, we’ve got “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” a new series on Paramount+, which follows the voyages of the Enterprise in the decade before Kirk took over. If you’re a Trekkie, you know that Captain Pike and his crew were introduced in “The Cage,” the first pilot for “Star Trek” way back in 1965. (That footage was eventually repurposed in the two-part “Star Trek” episode “The Menagerie.”)

After watching the first two episodes of “Strange New Worlds,” I’m happy to say that this series perfectly captures the energy and fun of the original show.

Yes, fun.
Saving the galaxy used to be fun, right?

There are lots of complementary elements that are helping this new series to hum at warp.

The Strong Cast
Though Pike is now (minor spoiler alert) burdened by knowing his future, Anson Mount continues to give us a compelling Starfleet captain who’s collaborative, funny and also a tad irreverent.

The writers are quickly focusing on exploring the supporting cast. We’ve already got a nice sense of Nurse Chapel played by Jess Bush, and the second episode focuses on Cadet Uhura played by Celia Rose Gooding.

The producers have taken some creative license to update these younger versions of these famous characters, and it’s all for the better. I’m not going to hold the producers to perfectly reflect every detail of the original “Star Trek.”

Better Special Effects
The same goes for the Enterprise. Yes, it’s the same ship, but there are subtle differences on the outside and major enhancements on the bridge. And thanks to modern CGI effects, this ship can really fly. And I cannot tell you (Geek alert!) how much fun it is to watch the Enterprise in action.

The more advanced special effects are a welcome improvement.

Back to the Future
“Strange New Worlds” also benefits from a healthy dose of nostalgia. Sure, there’s a lot of runway for the missions of this previously unexplored crew, but everything feels so familiar and immediately comfortable. The communicators, the tricorders, the transporter beams, and all of those techie sounds… you know all of them!

“Star Trek” series have spent decades trying to differentiate themselves from the original show. “Strange New Worlds” doesn’t need to. These are actually the first chapters of the same Enterprise story.

It’s refreshing that we again get to see the Federation during its peak years, when everything seemed possible.

No More F-Bombs
And I am so happy that this is again TV-PG Star Trek, void of all that unnecessary bad language and occasional F-bombs that have plagued “Discovery” and “Picard.”

“Star Trek” doesn’t need to be so dark and “edgy” to connect with it’s 2022 audience. I think especially these days, we need a reminder that being bright and optimistic is achievable.

I’m looking forward to inviting my 12-year-old son to watch “Strange New Worlds” with me. (He’s not yet connected with “Star Trek” the way he has with Marvel and “Star Wars.”)

Time to Enjoy
No, it’s not groundbreaking “Trek,” but it’s not trying to be. “Strange New Worlds” still succeeds on many levels. It firmly represents “Star Trek’s” core, gives us a great Captain Pike (Thank you, Anson Mount), and most of all… it’s simply refreshing.

And fun.

It’s exactly what we need.

My Street Photography from New Orleans

While taking photos in the French Quarter, I saw people casually living their lives in an comfortably public way. It added to overall fabric of the environment.

During my vacations, I always enjoy the opportunity to spot and photograph interesting imagery while walking about. As you might imagine, New Orleans is a great place to practice street photography.

My family and I recently returned from a fun New Orleans vacation, and we packed in many kid-friendly activities across our five days. Speaking of packing, I’m happy to report that I successfully organized and stashed my camera gear and tripod under the airplane seat in front of me. Here’s how I accomplished that little feat.

While walking around the streets of the French Quarter, I used my Panasonic Lumix GH5 II as much as possible, but my trusty iPhone was also in my pocket to quickly capture a fleeting moment that my bigger Lumix wasn’t ready for.

Here’s some of what I saw.

I found that waiting on line outside of the famous Preservation Hall gave me valuable time to spot these moments.



Of course, Jackson Square is a hub of activity. And it didn’t hurt that we visited during the French Quarter Festival.

We were also in New Orleans during Fleet Week. So we saw sailors about the city.

The festive nature of New Orleans was everywhere.



Even the more mundane day-to-day moments had a nice energy.

We also passed by more sobering realities.



Just like any city, New Orleans offered a wide spectrum of images. Many were festive. Some were sad. Others I could barely look at, let alone take a picture. That was my experience as a tourist walking about without a specific agenda.

Yes, we packed our family vacation with a variety of planned activities. But as we also did plenty of walking from one destination to the next, I really enjoyed that extra time to look about with a photographer’s eye.


Thank you, New Orleans!

How to Pack your Camera and Travel Tripod for your Next Flight

When packing to go on vacation, delicate camera gear can be a particular challenge to carry on board a plane. If you’re trying to travel light, it’s even harder. Here’s how I did it for our flight to New Orleans.

My family vacation to New Orleans was a blast. But flying there in a cost-effective way took some planning. Our goal for each of us was to only bring one carry-on suitcase and a personal item onto the plane which would fit under the seat in front. (Paying for more luggage adds up pretty quickly.)

Our airline tickets were a tad expensive as we flew over spring break after Easter. So, this self-imposed luggage limitation helped to keep our airfare pricing in check.

Traveling light as a family carries a variety of benefits, but I gave myself a particularly difficult packing challenge. That’s because I brought my Panasonic Lumix GH5 II mirrorless camera and 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens (24-70mm – 35mm equivalent) along with my Manfrotto Befree Live carbon-fiber video travel tripod.

A big camera… plus a small tripod? (The Manfrotto is still 16” long when packed up.)
Impossible you say?

Not necessarily. Here’s how I did it.

Think Tank Shoulder Bag
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to safely pack my GH5 II camera and lens. My first thought was to use my Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7M Shoulder Bag as my personal item/camera bag.

But I quickly realized if I then put my travel tripod into my small carry-on suitcase, I really wouldn’t have room for much of anything else.

I really needed a personal item/bag that would fit both my camera/lens and my travel tripod.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack
To accomplish that, I bought a Peak Design V2 30L Everyday Backpack. I wisely purchased the 30L model as opposed to the smaller 20L version. The 30L model just barely fit my Manfrotto tripod within its zippered side flap (with the tripod positioned vertically).

Sure, my Manfrotto could also slip into one of the backpack’s two outside pockets, but remember, my Peak Design was my personal item for our flight.

Technically, the 30L Everyday Backpack is a bit too big to specifically meet airlines’ personal item regulations.

  • Personal item limit:
    17” L x 13” W x 8” H
  • Peak Design 30L Everyday Backpack:
    19” L x 13” W x 10” H

It’s close. (Plus, I told myself that I could squish the backpack a little smaller if needed.)

So, I didn’t want to flaunt my slightly oversized personal item by also having a tripod sticking out of the backpack’s side. Plus, that would have made the backpack even wider. (The smaller 20L model would have been a snap to carry on board, but it wouldn’t have fit my tripod within its interior.)

30L Everyday Backpack Works as Personal Item
As it turned out, I successfully brought my 30L Everyday Backpack through the gate and past several sets of official eyes without incident. (We flew JetBlue out and Spirit back.)

And the 30L Everyday Backpack did indeed fit under the seat in front of me. There wasn’t a lot of extra room left, but just enough to be able to extend one foot in. It wasn’t exactly a model for comfort (I’m 6’), but it was fine for the three-hour plane ride.

Of course, the Peak Design backpack could have also been stashed in the overhead, but my carry-on bag was already there. Plus, I wanted to maintain total control of my camera gear. (I didn’t like the thought of someone jamming in another bag next to mine in the overhead and possibly damaging my tech.)

Camera Bag and General Backpack
From a packing perspective, my Peak Design Everyday Backpack wasn’t close to being full after I popped in the camera and tripod. There was ample space left over for clothing that could be tightly rolled up.

So, it served nicely as both a camera bag and backpack while we walked around New Orleans.

Think Tank Too
Remember my Think Tank shoulder bag? As it turned out, I packed that as well.
How?

It went in my carry-on luggage. (I first stuffed it with rolled-up t-shirts, socks and shorts and then put the whole thing into my suitcase.)

And why bring two camera bags? The truth is I wasn’t sure if I wanted to schlep my Everyday Backpack around during our entire vacation. The Think Tank has a much smaller profile, and on the days when I didn’t feel I would need my tripod, I felt my shoulder bag would be more appropriate.

My Experience Walking the Streets of New Orleans
I used my shoulder bag during the first couple of days of our New Orleans vacation. As it turned out, it wasn’t that comfortable.

Once I packed my 24 oz water bottle into the outside pocket, I really felt the increased weight of the water, and it became more awkward to carry the shoulder bag all day with my camera. (I had the bag slung over one side of my back.) All of the weight hit my lower back, and my body didn’t appreciate it. (Yes, I do have some lower back issues.)

But when I eventually switched over to the Everyday Backpack, the weight was well balanced and focused more towards the top of my back, (The water bottle fit into one of the two outside pockets. And I still kept my tripod inside the backpack.)

Even though I was carrying more weight, it felt so much better. Plus, the remaining space in the backpack allowed me to carry extra layers of clothes for my family. And it also had room for a couple of gifts we bought along the way!

If you’re a parent with years of experience as a ‘Sherpa’ for your family, this backpack does really nicely as a day bag.

The 30L Peak Design Everyday Backpack isn’t exactly small, but it doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m a huge camera bag with a tripod!” I was just another tourist carrying a regular backpack on the streets of the French Quarter.

Next time, I’ll ditch the shoulder bag entirely.

Maximize the Functionality of that Personal Item
New Orleans is a great place for a family vacation. I really enjoyed the opportunity bring along my gear to capture some cool photos and videos along the way.



Using a camera bag in the form of a backpack that can fit a small tripod and doubles as a day bag on vacation was my trick to flying with fewer suitcases.

As long as the backpack can also fit under that seat as a personal item on your flight, you should also be in great shape.

Happy travels!

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