Running Map of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

18 11 2012

Here is my Ho Chi Minh running map link. 

I decided to create this running map of Ho Chi Minh to help visiting runners. Ho Chi Minh can be a bit shocking for first time visitors, especially for runners, given the motorbikes, traffic, and questionable sidewalks. If you read the running forums, there are a number of negative comments about running in Ho Chi Minh, which is partially what inspired me to create this map.

If you can get past the culture shock, there are quite a number of places to run in Ho Chi Minh, but you do have to be very careful.

As a runner, no one will stop for you or give you the right away – this includes motorbikes, cars, and even other pedestrians.

The best time to go running is in the morning, between 5:30 – 6 am, to avoid traffic and the heat. Since normal temperatures are 70 – 100 degrees F twenty four hours a day, you need to be very careful about when you run and how hard, paying very careful attention to signs of overheating. Often I carry a water bottle and an energy bar just in case, as well as some cash and my hotel business card.

If you have any questions about my running map, let me know!

Link to the map.


Managing Your Weight

15 12 2009
This article is about managing your weight…..of your bags!

Quin Cheung at the airport with two fully loaded Urban Disguise briefcases. Photo by Dave Cheung,

This article is about managing your weight…..of your bags!

It is inevitable that if you’re traveling with most professional grade photography equipment you’re going to be over the normal 40 pound/18.14 kilograms carry on requirement of most USA airlines. It’s even worse with most non-USA  carriers as they usually have a much lower carry on weight– as low as 13 pounds/5.90 kilograms. (Need up-to-date help with airline requirements? Seat Guru,, is good for checking carry on requirements.  Click on your airline first, and then click on “Baggage” and all the information will come up.)

One Bag or Two?
For justifiable reasons, many sports and other professional photographers like to fit ALL of their equipment into ONE bag, for example, Think Tank’s Airport Security™ roller. Using one bag means that when you unzip it open, everything is tightly organized and in it’s proper place in order to make maximum use of space.

The problem with the “one bag” approach is that it is going to be extremely heavy. For sports photographers carrying a 400 2.8, for example, that means your rolling camera bag is going to be between 45 – 60 pounds/18.14 – 27.22 kilograms.
What many new photographers fail to realize is that it is more common to be challenged at the airport for the weight of their bag, and not the size. Often if you are using a rolling bag or backpack that is the maximum carrying on size, this is a trigger to airline personnel that they should weigh your bag.

Two Bags

I normally recommend to photographers that if the airline has a two bag carry on allowance–meaning one carry on (like a roller or a backpack) and one personal item (like a briefcase)–they should use two smaller bags, which will lower each bag’s weight.

For example, one combination of two smaller bags would be:

1.    Think Tank’s Airport Take Off™ rolling backpack ( )
2.    An Urban Disguise® photo briefcase ( )

The Airport Take Off™ will carry your 400 2.8, but probably won’t hold everything you need to shoot sports when you travel. But the advantage of the Airport Take Off™ is that it clearly looks like carry on size, or even under sized. So, you’re less likely to be asked to weigh your bag.

You then you put your laptop into an Urban Disguise® briefcase, along with the other gear you were not able to fit in the Take Off. For example, “overflow” items in your briefcase could be your 70-200, a couple of strobes, all your cords, cables, and batteries, your second camera body, etc.

Using this technique, you now have two bags that clearly meet the carry on size requirement. The disadvantage is that now you have your gear in two separate bags, which is not as convenient when you need to access it at your shooting venue.

Still, the inconvenience of the two bag approach is greatly made up by the reduced chance of being hassled at the airport or having to watch as your valuable and delicate gear is thrown into checked baggage.

Here is another example of a two bag configuration:

1.    Glass Taxi™  ( )  This carries a 300 2.8, 400 2.8, or a 500 4. And, you can probably stuff your AC adaptor, batteries, and some other equipment into it.

2.    Urban Disguise® 60 ( ) This will carry the follow items:

•    Laptop
•    Two pro size bodies
•    70-200 2.8
•    One other lens like a 16-35 or a 24 -70.

The advantage to this set up is that no one will guess you have a 400 2.8 in the Glass Taxi since it looks so small.  And the rest of your gear will it in the Urban Disguise® briefcase, which ironically enough, will probably weigh more than the Glass Taxi.
The key is to know the airlines’ requirements in advance and to figure out how you can use combinations of bags in order to keep your gear safely near you while flying.

On Supporting Photographers

26 08 2009

I get a lot of phone calls from photographers requesting to be sponsored by Think Tank Photo.  I recently received an unusual email from Canadian photographer Kelvin Young who was volunteering to go to Nairobi, Kenya with the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital.  (You can read about the flying hospital here).

Photographer Kelvin Young on the ORBIS DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital, with Think Tank gear.

Photographer Kelvin Young on the ORBIS DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital, with Think Tank gear.

I spent some time on Kelvin’s website and also on the ORBIS website and was impressed with ORBIS’ mission and that Kelvin was going to document the event as a photojournalist.

Philosophically, I have always maintained that our mission at Think Tank is more than just supplying bags to photographers. There are many companies that focus solely on the product, and forget about the larger ramifications of what impact their products have on the world.  I have always believed it is vitally important to support photographers, because the images that they create and use to tell stories are absolutely vital.  Our mission is about more.  It is about supporting photographers doing their job.

So the story about the Flying Eye Hospital, a DC-10 aircraft converted into a mobile ophthalmic surgical unit, is really an amazing one.

I am proud of the fact that we could support both ORBIS and Kelvin on their trip to Kenya. You can see some of Kelvin’s photos of the trip on youtube.

Only in Las Vegas

7 06 2009

Normally I’m the one that gets blamed for the crazy ideas and product names at Think Tank Photo, but this new product launch with showgirls has to be given credit to Larry Atil and Brian Erwin. Of course this would only have worked in Las Vegas, otherwise it would not have been so amusing.

Absurdity makes people laugh, and this was absurd.

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The showgirls strolled into the room and seductively handed out bags to each participant, with feathers, beads, and diamond studded pierced belly buttons. This was quite a surprise for both the coaches and the participants, not expecting anything so outlandish at the beginning of such a “serious” training event.

ONLY IN LAS VEGAS. Anywhere else, this stunt would have fallen flat. But here in the city of glitz, gambling, sin and showgirls, it was a grand introduction for both the NPPA event and for Think Tank Photo.

I believe the reason why this happened is because as a company, we do “think outside of the box.” When we brainstorm, we never eliminate seemingly crazy ideas, concepts, or names, and the benefit is that we end up laughing a lot……except in this case we took the risk and actually executed the crazy idea.
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The attractive feathery showgirls were great sports…..special thanks to Tara, Lonestar, and Chrystal of Stardust Showgirls ( for making this a  memorable event.

We are proud sponsors of the National Press Photographers Association and the Multimedia Immersion program. Thanks to Jim Straight, Seth Gitner, and Will Sullivan for allowing us to be part of the program and for giving us the opportunity to introduce our new product line Las Vegas style.

You can see more pictures on the Think Tank Photo Facebook page,, and

Direct communication with photographers.

31 08 2008


Women participate in a survey with Lily Fisher, senior designer and developer with Think Tank Photo, on Friday night, August 8th, during the Women In Photojournalism conference in New Orleans, La.

Women participate in a survey with Lily Fisher, senior designer and developer with Think Tank Photo, on Friday night, August 8th, during the Women In Photojournalism conference in New Orleans, La.

As a product designer, it is interesting to me that most companies do not allow their designers to talk directly to their customers. Designers are very creative, analytical, and intuitive, and there is no substitute for talking directly to the person using the product. Regardless, many companies put other people in the way of this relationship, such as product managers, sales and marketing people, and the like. 


I think the simple reason for this is “control.” Companies don’t like for the designers to be in control, or even to give input on what should be strategically developed. 

Sometimes I refer to this as the “Politics of Product,” meaning the internal company politics that occur about which products should be developed and why. For those of you involved in the design, marketing, or sales of any type product, you probably already intuitively understand what “The Politics of Product” actually means. Let me further try to clarify this.

When a product is designed by committee, all sorts of people give input into what they think the product should be, each person representing a special interest. For example, the designer wants some cool features, the sales people want a certain price point, the marketing person wants something else, etc, etc, ad infinitum. The Politics of Product occurs when the grand debate ensues about what the product should be, what features it should have, what it should cost, and more.

My design philosophy is actually the opposite. There are no business people between the designers and the photographers. Designers should  listen directly to what the photographers need and want and make it for them. No politics! 

Using this design strategy is an absolute pleasure – working with photographers directly, the ones out in the field using the equipment, to find out what their needs are, asking them what works and what doesn’t. As a designer, the most satisfying thing is hearing from a photographer that the product exceeded his expectations!

About Think Tank Photo

27 08 2008


Think Tank co-founder and photojournalist in Thailand.

Think Tank co-founder and photojournalist Kurt Rogers in Thailand.

We are a group of designers and professional photographers focused on studying how photographers work, and developing inventive new carrying solutions to meet their needs. By focusing on “speed” and “accessibility,” we prepare photographers to Be Ready “Before The Moment,” allowing them to capture those historic moments that reflect their personal visions and artistic talents. For some companies, it is only about the product. For us, it is more: It is about supporting photographers doing their job. If we can design products that help photographers travel easier, take pictures faster, and organize their gear more efficiently, then we will have accomplished something beyond the bags themselves.