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QT Luong
23-Dec-2010, 02:04
There is a new version of Jeff Conrad's Still Photography and Permits On US and California Public Land (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/photo-permits/).

Here's are comments from Jeff about the update:

My article on photography permits is over five years old; I've been waiting
for the NPS, BLM, and FWS to issue a new rule implementing Public Law
106-206, but after ten years, nothing has happened and I am not led to
believe that anything will happen soon.

In the mealtime, much of the article has become out of date. Many contacts
have moved on or retired, many links have broken, and even a few laws have
changed. So much has changed that the current article may be more of a
disservice than a help.

I've updated the contacts, fixed the links, checked all the laws (updating a few), and
slightly expanded the material for a few agencies.

Based on the discussion last December
(http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=56544) about
photographers getting unlawfully hassled in California State Parks, I've
included the rulemaking history of that law, suggesting that the current
interpretation is dead wrong. Interestingly enough, I found a very similar
situation with Palo Alto parks, in which the wording of the regulation
(yes, Palo Alto actually has administrative law) is very much at odds with
the explanation given at the commission meeting at which the regulation was
adopted.

I normally try to keep advocacy out of the descriptions of the laws and
policies for the various agencies; I've added the information mentioned
above because it seems obvious that the regulation based on commercial
intent is not what was intended, and if someone were to challenge a
citation based on the stated intent, the laws would probably be either
voided or construed to mean what was intended. Making such a challenge
would be a fairly big deal, so I don't seriously expect anyone to do it,
but I think making the information available is a start, especially because
it is exceedingly difficult to come by unless one goes to great lengths.

I think I've handled it quite gently, letting the language of the
descriptions make the case without much additional comment. Perhaps it
will at least get a few people thinking. No one should have to endure
petty harassment like that to which Boots McGhee, David Karp, and a few
others were subjected.

I've long maintained that in most cases, the intent was to require permits
for disruptive activity, and that the authors, typically unfamiliar with
photography, simply equated "commercial intent" with "large and
disruptive." I now have at least two smoking guns, suggesting that I
probably could find many more if I were to research the legislative history
of other similar laws. Unfortunately, that's a task for which I simply
don't have the time, so I'll need to leave it to others.

I keep forgetting how much work it is prying this information out of
various people (some are far more helpful than others), so I'm not sure
when I'll get around to another update. I will update the relevant
sections if the US DOI ever issue a new rule, though this may not happen
any time soon.

Scott Knowles
23-Dec-2010, 06:23
You're right that nothing on the federal level has changed in quite a few years since there hasn't been any reason to change. The rules work well and no one for any side has complained or any member of Congress has offered legislation. I follow the NPS rules, which is very similar to FWS rules, and their rules have been consistent for at least a decade. Any changes are local for the site, such as for those in D.C. or other areas which are often busy and some uses, like tripods, are restricted if not prohibited.

In short, just write the information has been reviewed and update the date of your information, and then let people let you know when it's not. As for the history of the rules, you're right, it would take considerable time and effort to dig out the agencies' administrative history regarding photography and the legislative efforts, and only really interesting to photography history buffs. But then it would be interesting. No, not going there...

ElRooster
3-Jan-2011, 20:01
I was taking photos today with my pentax 67 on a tripod and a park ranger asked me for a permit and said that I needed one and that he could give me a $175 ticket. I am not a professional and shooting a picture of a tree. He gave me a card with the Deputy Chieg of Developed Resources Operations and a name to get a permit. I emailed this person to ask what is the deal. I don't understand this is my hobby and not doing a pro shoot with models or lights or anything.

Brian Vuillemenot
3-Jan-2011, 20:06
I was taking photos today with my pentax 67 on a tripod and a park ranger asked me for a permit and said that I needed one and that he could give me a $175 ticket. I am not a professional and shooting a picture of a tree. He gave me a card with the Deputy Chieg of Developed Resources Operations and a name to get a permit. I emailed this person to ask what is the deal. I don't understand this is my hobby and not doing a pro shoot with models or lights or anything.

Which park was this in?

ElRooster
3-Jan-2011, 21:11
Santa Monica mountains in the san fernando valley. I can find the name in a second.

Here is the location.
http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=36

And here is the name of the Deputy Chief of Developed Resources Operations
Marsha Feldman.

ElRooster
3-Jan-2011, 21:16
Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch

Marko
4-Jan-2011, 07:23
That's in the Santa Susana Mountains, not Santa Monica Mountains, BTW.

Perhaps we could go for a group shoot over there one of the coming weekends? :)

ElRooster
4-Jan-2011, 08:33
That's in the Santa Susana Mountains, not Santa Monica Mountains, BTW.

Perhaps we could go for a group shoot over there one of the coming weekends? :)

I would love that! Do you live locally? It's really an awesome place, I have some photos I can share but I don't want to hijack this thread. Do you think if there is a group of us we won't be harassed or we will be better prepared? Maybe we can email a request to do some amateur photography from the Deputy Chief?

I will pm you a link to some images I took at this location in the pass along with what I did yesterday, I shoot with a Pentax 67 and Toyo 45a. I wanted to get into 5x7 soon too.

ElRooster
4-Jan-2011, 08:45
Update email.. wow this is crazy!

"Thank you for your e-mail. MRCA is ordanced to permit any commercial use, or potential commercial use, of any location that is managed by the MRCA.
For students, they are able to pay 50% of whatever the location fees are. Other requirements are; a certificate of insurance, proof of an active enrollment in a film school- for the project, and additional monitor fees. We are unable to be flexible on these requirements. And yes- you can be cited by the MRCA’s Park Rangers.
In the future, I suggest that you contact the locations’ management to be sure you have the required permits, etc. This could include NPS, CSP, La City & County Recreation and Parks.
Best to you in the future,
Marsha"

I did not have a model or a crew haha, this is ridiculous.

Robert Brummitt
4-Jan-2011, 08:49
Here is something of a different note.
Last year, I took my son fishing. He's of age where a license is needed. No problem, I thought, happy to support. But when the clerk asked for my son's Social Security number I stopped. Why? I asked. It's required was the reply. I didn't give one when I got mine, I handed over my driver license.
I wrote to my state rep about the issue, he was shocked and said he would look into it. A month later, he wrote saying that the Feds require the number to catch "Dead-beat" parents. How many dead-beat 15 year olds are out there I asked? He agree but its the Feds. They with-hold funds if the states don't comply.
So, it seems the Feds want more of the pie. If they are so incline then they should also charge other forms of art expression.

BrianShaw
4-Jan-2011, 08:52
That's in the Santa Susana Mountains, not Santa Monica Mountains, BTW.

Perhaps we could go for a group shoot over there one of the coming weekends? :)

Count me in!

All I need to do is bring my portfolio to convince any "Smokey the Bear" that I'm not a pro. ;)

BrianShaw
4-Jan-2011, 08:56
Update email.. wow this is crazy!

"Thank you for your e-mail. MRCA is ordanced to permit any commercial use, or potential commercial use, of any location that is managed by the MRCA.

POTENTIAL????? Do they employ psychics?????

Michael Batchelor
4-Jan-2011, 08:57
As a society we have moved from the old assumption of my childhood that unless something is explicitly forbidden, then it is permitted into the position that unless something is explicitly permitted then it is forbidden.

ElRooster
4-Jan-2011, 09:01
I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I'm just like most of you. Passionate about my hobby, so I have better cameras and lenses than the average person but I am not looking to make a profit. I just make prints for myself or friends. I was considering finding out how much a permit is but they also want additional fees like monitoring, certificate of insurance. Imagine every time I have a day off and feel like taking a picture I need to pay $50 or $100 or something for it? This can almost kill my hobby.

What to do? Am I being whiny?

rdenney
4-Jan-2011, 09:19
This can almost kill my hobby.

If there is no commercial intent, then I don't see how the answer you received requires a permit. You could ask for clarification of what comprises "commercial use or potential commercial use". It is appropriate to politely ask them to be specific, and to provide references in state law, as to the definition on which the rule hinges. Rudeness will undermine your cause, and so will complaining. My response to the message you quoted would be something like: "Thank you for your response. I am confused as to the meaning of 'commercial use or potential commercial use'. Can you provide a specific definition of commercial use that I can use to guide my actions? And can you point me to the specific paragraphs in the state code that govern this definition and the permitting process? Thank you very much for your continued assistance."

Rick "who has been approached only one by an NPS ranger, who had no issue when our non-commercial purpose was explained" Denney

ElRooster
4-Jan-2011, 09:39
I followed your advice and wrote word by word what you said. I would like to know what the reply will be. Thanks Rick. I think I should chill out and see what happens. Thanks again.

rdenney
4-Jan-2011, 09:52
As a society we have moved from the old assumption of my childhood that unless something is explicitly forbidden, then it is permitted into the position that unless something is explicitly permitted then it is forbidden.

I don't think this is the case, though some may be trying to make it so.

Example: I took my nieces to the National Gallery of Art last week. They asked if it was okay to take pictures. The response was "Always, unless it is specifically prohibited". There is not even a restriction on the use of flash. I made photos of a number of works, ranging from Rembrandt to Jasper Johns while we were there. I lifted my camera, noticed a guard, decided the picture wasn't that useful, and then lowered it, leaving the guard the impression I was afraid he would intervene. He politely told me that it was fine to use the camera. But in the exhibition of Arcimboldo's works, photography was restricted, and there was a plainly worded sign to that effect at the entrance to that exhibit. Likewise the wonderful display of 19th-century British photography, where they also had the lights turned down as expected. But stuff in their permanent collection was no problem. I would expect the same commercial-use permitting requirement there as in other federal public places.

Rick "who did not, of course, have a tripod and large-format camera" Denney

Darin Boville
4-Jan-2011, 14:34
Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch

Just to be clear to readers not in the area, this is a California Park under management by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. It's an odd duck, not your regular state park. Their mission seems to be to buy up land and then turn it over (i.e. sell it) to the regular state and national parks services.

My point being that you shouldn't extrapolate from an experience there to any other park or government land.

--Darin

ElRooster
4-Jan-2011, 15:11
Just to be clear to readers not in the area, this is a California Park under management by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. It's an odd duck, not your regular state park. Their mission seems to be to buy up land and then turn it over (i.e. sell it) to the regular state and national parks services.

My point being that you shouldn't extrapolate from an experience there to any other park or government land.

--Darin

You sir are absolutely right. After emailing and researching I got up to talking with Lee Dickinson who is the Special Park Uses Program Manager, Visitor and Resource Protection for the National Park Service. He told me the following:

"I am sorry you had such an unpleasant experience while you were shooting in
Antonovich Regional Park. The Santa Monica Mountains are a magnificent
resource that are managed by various land management organizations,
including Federal, State, local and private. While the policy and guidance
you quoted in you message are correct for areas managed by the National
Park Service, the Antonovich Park is not one of our sites, and our policies
do not apply.

Should you have questions about National Park Service managed sites within
the Santa Monica Mountain please feel free to contact the park at
805-370-2301. And I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning still
photography that you might have."

In essence, you are right this is a fluke regional park that have this stern policy but I can feel free to photograph at any NPS sites and everything is fine. I feel much better although it is a shame this regional park is so strict, nice scenery there to photograph.

ER

Marko
4-Jan-2011, 20:23
In essence, you are right this is a fluke regional park that have this stern policy but I can feel free to photograph at any NPS sites and everything is fine. I feel much better although it is a shame this regional park is so strict, nice scenery there to photograph.

ER

Well, I wouldn't call it a fluke, it is pretty clear that they maintain a great many resources for the State. And their policy, as stated in that email, is not really all that different from most other public places here.

The only potential problem, as I see it, is the interpretation of the terms "commercial use" and "potential commercial use" by the enforcement staff.

If the push really comes to shove, you do not need to prove that you are not breaking the rules, they need to prove that you are. If it does come to issuing a citation, I can imagine that it could be pretty successfully challenged in court. Much more successfully than a traffic citation, for example.

joselsgil
5-Jan-2011, 12:48
I would let them give you the citation and then fight in court, if it came down to that.
I have been hassled when shooting a building at night. The person wanted ID and who I was shooting for. I told them I was just shooting for myself and was a photography student.
I know that in the Hollywood area, if you try to setup and take some photos in front of famous landmarks, you can get hassled and asked for permits.
This has come about due to motion picture companies going way back in time. They used to film all over the place causing crowd problems. Not too far from my house McDonalds' has one of their restaurants just for shooting commercials. I have seen up to 4 Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs controlling traffic in the area, just for a TV commercial. This is one of the reasons why Hollywood has lost so much filming business in the area. The cost of permits and hiring traffic control, off duty police for control has made the area too expensive.
Maybe next time they stop you while shooting, tell them the camera doesn't have any film and you can't figure out how to load the 35mm roll of film or where the flash card is supposed to go. :D

ElRooster
5-Jan-2011, 15:04
hahah That's classic, "Sorry Mr. Ranger I can't figure how to load this 35mm film into my field camera."

I don't know if I should bother going back there again it would seem as if I was looking for trouble. I want to continue defending my case to the person in charge until finally she agrees and lets me photograph there.

This is the photo that got me "busted" I wanted to go back there with a 4x5 instead of my 67.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5047/5327840855_c64ceb59ef_b.jpg

Chris Strobel
5-Jan-2011, 15:24
hahah That's classic, "Sorry Mr. Ranger I can't figure how to load this 35mm film into my field camera."

I don't know if I should bother going back there again it would seem as if I was looking for trouble. I want to continue defending my case to the person in charge until finally she agrees and lets me photograph there.

This is the photo that got me "busted" I wanted to go back there with a 4x5 instead of my 67.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5047/5327840855_c64ceb59ef_b.jpg

Nice shot Rooster, how much for an 8x10, and can I get it matted and framed? :D

ElRooster
5-Jan-2011, 16:09
hahahaha hey now! Funny. Are you the park ranger trying to bust me? :p

Azumaguy
5-Jan-2011, 18:01
I will cheerfully disobey this oppressive law. Public lands are paid for by public dollars. I pay a huge amount of taxes and will photograph anything I darn well please as long as the park is open. Period.

Chris Strobel
5-Jan-2011, 18:23
hahahaha hey now! Funny. Are you the park ranger trying to bust me? :p

Lol just yankin ur chain.I feel your pain, I was harassed at a local city park shooting some shrubs, was using a dslr on a big Feisol tripod, the guy got on his radio and was talking with dispatch making me sound like an alleged criminal.I just started packing up my gear to leave and said if you have a problem call city police.Jumped in my Jeep and left watching him take down my plate number in the rear view.Guy was a jerk.I lost interest in photography and stopped shooting for three months after that incidence.Finally went back to shooting my shells and still lifes at home where the only one who harreses me is the wife, which sometimes can be worse lol :D

Marko
5-Jan-2011, 20:54
Lol just yankin ur chain.I feel your pain, I was harassed at a local city park shooting some shrubs, was using a dslr on a big Feisol tripod, the guy got on his radio and was talking with dispatch making me sound like an alleged criminal.I just started packing up my gear to leave and said if you have a problem call city police.Jumped in my Jeep and left watching him take down my plate number in the rear view.Guy was a jerk.I lost interest in photography and stopped shooting for three months after that incidence.Finally went back to shooting my shells and still lifes at home where the only one who harreses me is the wife, which sometimes can be worse lol :D

The world is full of petty people desperately trying to exert some sort of power over somebody, anybody, and this economy isn't helping either... They get their five minutes by trying to ruin your day and it is up to you if you will let them.

But as long as you are on public property, you can safely ignore them or, better, tell them to go pound sand. ;) I've had a few of those pompous little nobodies become persistent to the point of being aggressive, but when I pull my cellphone and tell them that I will be happy to call the police if they won't or can't, they go away.

I am not a lawyer, but this guy (http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm) is and the law seems to be pretty simple in this respect.

Chris Strobel
5-Jan-2011, 23:14
I am not a lawyer, but this guy (http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm) is and the law seems to be pretty simple in this respect.

Thanks Marko, printed and in my lens bag as I type.Yeah in my case it was a security guard, and pound sand indeed :D

Robert Brummitt
6-Jan-2011, 09:25
Long ago, before 911. I was photographing a friend, we were doing street photography with buildings as a back drop. Well, along comes a security guard saying that I couldn't do that. I replied that we were on the public sidewalk and that the building in question are in plain view and that it could be photograph it.
He was getting upset with me, started to use his radio to call for back up when just so happen a police car was driving by. The guard launched out to wave the car in. He told the officer his complaint and the officer listened, asked me my side and my friends side then told the guard that we are on public property and the building is in plain sight from the sidewalk and that we had not committed a crime.
Now after 911 and that governments need funds, I wonder if I could be legal these days? I had organized several photographers rights and the law lectures and maybe I should do that again.

Vaughn
6-Jan-2011, 10:05
A long while back I have been approached a couple times by rangers asking why I was photographing. At the time I could not figure out why they were asking, but I told them I was an artist and I was making art. This seemed to confuse them and they eventually left.

Marko
6-Jan-2011, 10:43
When somebody asks me why I am photographing, my first response is to ask why are they asking. If they are polite about it, I will get into a (short) conversation and try to explain what I am doing and why.

If they are rude or seem to be on a power trip, as it often happens when the uniform is bigger than the person wearing it, and they keep insisting, I tell them that I do it for the same reason Mike Jagger likes pretty young women: a) because I like it, and b) because I can.

:D

falth j
6-Jan-2011, 11:12
People today, seem to be more amenable to a form of life that doesn't involve fighting for what is, for the lack of better wording, 'common-sense' or 'right'.

No matter the 'authority-figures' today, people seem to have neither the will, interest, or dedication to take their case forward, to instill in the mindset of 'authority-figures' that they have to consider the 'rights' they are intruding upon of others...

Before you take me to task, consider for example, your past 'weekend', if you had one where you did not have to work a six or seven day work week...

It wasn't long ago that a work week consisted of six and seven day work weeks of ten or more hour work days.

In the 1950's, the forty hour work week still was not a way of life.


Today, opposite a large recreation site, there is a 20' x 40' sign to remind people, that reads:


If you are enjoying your weekend time away from work, thank the members of a union that had the dedication to fight for a forty hour work week.


If you lived during the time when unions were fighting for a forty-hour work week, you will readily remember the battle they fought with employers across every part of the landscape, and the terrible consequences that employers cited would befall the nation if such a ‘ridiculous’ idea became law.

Causes take time and energy, and certainly our authority-figures won't give us what is right or common-sensical if we don't take ‘them’ to task from time-to-time, or for that matter it seems we need to do this all the time these days...


My 1/20 of one cent actual cash value, worth ...

ElRooster
6-Jan-2011, 15:22
I think I will go this monday or the following on my day off and photograph with my 4x5 camera. If the ranger asks me again for a permit I will tell him that I am not in the wrong and show him that Photographer's Right paper and say that I am just taking a non professional photo and see what happens.
If the ranger is not bluffing and gives me a $175 ticket I will fight it.

Michael Batchelor
6-Jan-2011, 19:59
I think I will go this monday or the following on my day off and photograph with my 4x5 camera. If the ranger asks me again for a permit I will tell him that I am not in the wrong and show him that Photographer's Right paper and say that I am just taking a non professional photo and see what happens.
If the ranger is not bluffing and gives me a $175 ticket I will fight it.

Just make sure it is really "public" land, not merely on its way to becoming public by this conservation group. If it's still private it's theirs.

Marko
6-Jan-2011, 20:41
Just make sure it is really "public" land, not merely on its way to becoming public by this conservation group. If it's still private it's theirs.

If it isn't public, the guards are not law enforcement but private security and therefore can't issue him a citation for disobeying the rules, they can only ask him to leave. They can charge him with trespassing if he refuses to leave though.

If it is public, park rangers, which are law enforcement officers, can't ask him to leave but can issue a citation, which can then be challenged in court. For the citation to stand, it would have to be based on the existing rule, not one made up on the spot.

Either way, they cannot confiscate his equipment (although some of them like to threaten that) and they cannot force him to destroy his images either.

This particular law is not all that complicated - knowledge really is power in this case and standing up for our rights can go a long way.

rdenney
7-Jan-2011, 07:58
I think I will go this monday or the following on my day off and photograph with my 4x5 camera. If the ranger asks me again for a permit I will tell him that I am not in the wrong and show him that Photographer's Right paper and say that I am just taking a non professional photo and see what happens.
If the ranger is not bluffing and gives me a $175 ticket I will fight it.

Did you ever get a response back from your request for clarification of the definition of commercial use?

Even if you didn't, the rules as you have relayed them in this thread are related to commercial uses only. Your assertion that you are not engaging in commercial activities should be all that is required to comply with that rule--there is no way to provide documentation that you are not doing something, and the burden of providing documentation is on them in any case. That means that they would have to show that you did indeed use the images commercially in order for the citation to be upheld. I'm no lawyer, but I suspect most judges are more sympathetic to a plain reading of the law, especially if you can show a good-faith effort to obtain a definition of commercial use specific enough to guide your actions.

If you are approached, just remember to be polite and do not give them cause to pile on a different charge, such as disorderly conduct. And take a friend.

Rick "who is really annoyed by cops who push their weight around unnecessarily just because they can" Denney

joselsgil
9-Jan-2011, 00:22
Long ago, before 911. I was photographing a friend, we were doing street photography with buildings as a back drop. Well, along comes a security guard saying that I couldn't do that. I replied that we were on the public sidewalk and that the building in question are in plain view and that it could be photograph it.


Robert, many many years ago (early 80s), my college photography class took a day field trip to Downtown Los Angeles for a class photo assignment. One thing we were told. Do not photograph; Outside Federal Buildings, Banks, Jewelry Stores. The reason given, potential use of images for future criminal activities, "casing the joints". Nobody in the class pushed the envelope to see what would happens.

Vaughn
9-Jan-2011, 09:15
My photo professor (he died in 1990 at the age of 60+, so this was a while back -- probably late 50's, early 60's) photographed a policeman talking to a pimp in Oakland and got himself busted. The only reason he did not spend all night in jail is because he called up a friend high up in the city gov't.

Turns out the pimp was paying off the cop, so even if photographing in a public place was perfectly "legal", sometimes that does not matter at all. I don't think he knew exactly what was going down at the time he took the photo, and he told the story as a precautionary tale.

Robert Brummitt
9-Jan-2011, 10:20
Robert, many many years ago (early 80s), my college photography class took a day field trip to Downtown Los Angeles for a class photo assignment. One thing we were told. Do not photograph; Outside Federal Buildings, Banks, Jewelry Stores. The reason given, potential use of images for future criminal activities, "casing the joints". Nobody in the class pushed the envelope to see what would happens.

This was a business park, residential area in Palo Alto, California. Nowhere near Federal, State, Banks or Jewelry stores. Many of the buildings were quite new and empty.
I understand the "casing out" idea. I was photographing in Stanford Shopping center or near there once. During the holiday season. My subjects were a Salvation army bell ringer and his older brother. I got a little 2-3 year boy giving change while the two watched. Once I was done, a security guard told me that he would let it slide and why it's not permitted. The shopping center was private property as well.
But, I got a wonderful image! My instructor Lester Dowling at Foothill College praised the photo and gave me an A++. He instructed me to give the print to the Salvation Army and to the two Bell Ringers.That helped me down this wonderful path called photography!
:) :) :)

Marko
9-Jan-2011, 10:24
Robert, many many years ago (early 80s), my college photography class took a day field trip to Downtown Los Angeles for a class photo assignment. One thing we were told. Do not photograph; Outside Federal Buildings, Banks, Jewelry Stores. The reason given, potential use of images for future criminal activities, "casing the joints". Nobody in the class pushed the envelope to see what would happens.

The law is actually very clear on this as the laws go: if you stand on public ground and not breaking any other ordinances in the process (such as stopping the traffic and such), you can take a picture of anything that is clearly visible from that point. The only exceptions that I've heard of are certain military installations and using telephoto lenses and/or other special equipment to gain the view you would not otherwise have, mostly as a safeguard of people's reasonable expectation of privacy.

A jewelry store or a bank that chose to make their storefronts visible in public in order to attract customers have no such expectations and neither do the cops, since they are public employees doing their work in public by default. They may not like it, they will try to prevent or stop you, but in the end, there is nothing they can (legally) do.

There were several relatively high-profile cases over the last couple of years in which some photographers decided to push the envelope. They got arrested and roughed up a bit, but they sued and they all won their respective lawsuits to the tune of $20-30K each.

It all comes down to your knowledge of your rights and the law, as well as your willingness to push for it. Personally, if someone ruins my mood (and therefore my photo shoot), I will make up for it by standing up for my rights.

toyotadesigner
10-Jan-2011, 23:53
"Thank you for your e-mail. MRCA is ordanced to permit any commercial use, or potential commercial use, of any location that is managed by the MRCA.
For students, they are able to pay 50% of whatever the location fees are. Other requirements are; a certificate of insurance, proof of an active enrollment in a film school- for the project, and additional monitor fees. We are unable to be flexible on these requirements. And yes- you can be cited by the MRCA’s Park Rangers.
In the future, I suggest that you contact the locations’ management to be sure you have the required permits, etc. This could include NPS, CSP, La City & County Recreation and Parks.
Best to you in the future,
Marsha"

I can't believe this is real. On the other hand - I don't think you would have posted it as a fake. If it is real, your nation appears to be gone totally nuts and lunatic driven.

That can't be the 'land of the free' as I remember it. It must be located in a parallel universe.

I am glad to live in Europe, and I really hope that I will never get an assignment in the US, because I don't want to be stripped naked at the immigration or thrown to ground and be arrested for using a camera.

No way.

But I really hope that the European governments will create new laws for Americans, so they will have to disclose all their private data and bank accounts prior to departure, that they will have to pass idiot tests at the immigration, be stripped naked, scanned with body scanners, examined by fat, ugly and brainless 'officers' who shove their fingers into their b*tts, etc., and that their cameras, devices with cameras, video et must be left at the point of immigration (for security reasons!) until they return to their 'home country'.

BTW, who is going to stand up to stop the lunatic development? Or would this already be an official offense against any unknown rules and laws?

America should return the Statue of Liberty [Official name: Liberty Enlightening the World] which had been given to the United States on October 28th, 1886, as a gift from France.

Just in case you don't know the last lines of the poem at the base of the statue:


Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore;
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Sanjay Sen
11-Jan-2011, 00:05
Dude, I have no idea what your rant is about!

Marko
11-Jan-2011, 08:01
I am glad to live in Europe, and I really hope that I will never get an assignment in the US, because I don't want to be stripped naked at the immigration or thrown to ground and be arrested for using a camera.

No way.

You're kidding, right? Just try Googling "Photography Is Not A Crime" and see what you come up with... Hint: the term originated in Britain. Search and find out why. ;)

Or try setting up a tripod in view of some landmark somewhere in Paris, for example.

Or go take street photos in Germany.

There was a guy recently in Oregon, I believe, who flipped the cops, got hassled, sued and won! The court found he had the right to express his displeasure with the police, as long as he didn't threaten or obstruct them.

Try that anywhere in Europe and see what happens!


But I really hope that the European governments will create new laws for Americans, so they will have to disclose all their private data and bank accounts prior to departure, that they will have to pass idiot tests at the immigration, be stripped naked, scanned with body scanners, examined by fat, ugly and brainless 'officers' who shove their fingers into their b*tts, etc., and that their cameras, devices with cameras, video et must be left at the point of immigration (for security reasons!) until they return to their 'home country'.

BTW, who is going to stand up to stop the lunatic development? Or would this already be an official offense against any unknown rules and laws?

Apart from the silly security theater at the airports, we still do not have to "show the papers" here, unless actually arrested or pulled over in traffic.

And we don't have to jump through heaps of red tape in order to obtain those few "papers" we do need.

Maybe you should come over for a visit and see what's real and what's BS. If you dare, that is... :D

Jack Dahlgren
11-Jan-2011, 10:38
I can't believe this is real. On the other hand - I don't think you would have posted it as a fake. If it is real, your nation appears to be gone totally nuts and lunatic driven.

That can't be the 'land of the free' as I remember it. It must be located in a parallel universe.



I think that the key part of the quote is:

"For students, they are able to pay 50% of whatever the location fees are. Other requirements are; a certificate of insurance, proof of an active enrollment in a film school- for the project, and additional monitor fees."

This clearly refers to filming in the park - being Los Angeles, this is a common thing to do and most places down there want their cut from the industry. Permitting is required because it is usually a crew of people, trucks, etc. Personally, I'd prefer that my parks aren't filled with film crews on location.

I don't think that the person responding understood that it was just still photography.

ElRooster
11-Jan-2011, 10:40
The problem is that they are treating me as a one man filming crew. haha Just me, my tripod and my camera. That is not a film crew. It's a little silly thank God the NPS parks aren't so strict.

rdenney
11-Jan-2011, 11:51
The problem is that they are treating me as a one man filming crew. haha Just me, my tripod and my camera. That is not a film crew. It's a little silly thank God the NPS parks aren't so strict.

Did you ever hear back on their definition of "commercial use"?

Rick "curious" Denney

ElRooster
11-Jan-2011, 13:32
No clear definition yet. This was her reply the same as I posted before.
-------
Gabriel-
I am out of town, presently- but, I felt that I wanted to address your concerns. Being a student- I am sure, at times- it can be frustrating to know all of the requirements for filming. I will be back in my office- around January 11th. If need be, please feel free to contact me, at that time.
Here you go- as stated in the MRCA Filming Permit:

Permittee understands and accepts the following MRCA Ordinance 1-2003 section 3.13: No person shall use parkland for any commercial or filming use without a permit issued by the Executive Officer or his designee. Commercial or filming use may be permitted only when to do

so would not damage or impair the natural features of any park, nor unreasonably interfere with public enjoyment of the area. Any person using MRCA parkland for commercial or filming purposes shall have the original signed permit in their possession and shall display such permit at the request of any employee of the MRCA or of the SMMC, or any peace officer. No person shall violate any term, condition, or limitation of any such permit.


Marsha A. Feldman

-------
Hi Marsha,

I apologize if I came across as rude. I was in shock and I felt like a harassed victim but I do want to thank you for your response. I am confused as to the meaning of 'commercial use or potential commercial use'. Can you provide a specific definition of commercial use that I can use to guide my actions? And can you point me to the specific paragraphs in the state code that govern this definition and the permitting process?

Thank you very much for your continued assistance.

Gabriel

ElRooster
11-Jan-2011, 13:34
Dude,

I mean I don't get it. Either she thinks I am part of a pro film crew or that I am a film (movie) student but she doesn't seem to understand that I am an amateur photography student without a crew, lights or model.

Jack Dahlgren
11-Jan-2011, 14:25
Dude,

I mean I don't get it. Either she thinks I am part of a pro film crew or that I am a film (movie) student but she doesn't seem to understand that I am an amateur photography student without a crew, lights or model.

I think you need to explain that more clearly.

Something like:

"I think there may be some confusion about my actions. I am not filming the park. I am engaging in casual nature photography for my personal enjoyment with an old camera. The camera is on a tripod because it is a heavy antique and is hard for me to hold still. I think that this is covered under the exclusion in MRCA Ordinance 1-2003 section 1.1 d. I assure you that my use is purely personal and not commercial. Do I still need a permit for this activity?"

Maybe accompany this with an old black and white of a photographer under the darkcloth.

This appears to be the ordinance:
http://smmc.ca.gov/MRCA-ordinance-10-03.pdf

rdenney
11-Jan-2011, 14:39
This appears to be the ordinance:
http://smmc.ca.gov/MRCA-ordinance-10-03.pdf

According to my reading of this ordinance, you are screwed. Make pictures elsewhere. Despite the dreadful summary of the law by the person who wrote the response that has confused us all, the law clearly states that a permit is required for "commercial or filming use" (emphasis mine), and clearly defines "filming" to include still photography. The only exclusion is for "casual" photography "of a non-commercial nature".

What will hang you is "casual". I think you'll have a hard time proving in court that setting up a 4x5 camera on a tripod for an extended period is "casual", if you are trying to fight a citation received by a park ranger. A plain reading of the law, and since I'm not a lawyer that's the only reading I can claim, would suggest a handheld camera as used by nearly all tourists.

"Commercial" is defined as "for profit" which is hard to prove before the fact, but that "or" in the permit requirement makes that point moot.

This is a law that needs changing, it seems to me, but I would not want to try to argue against it in court, and working to change the law seems the better course.

Rick "or learning to make art with a handheld camera when photographing here" Denney

ElRooster
11-Jan-2011, 17:19
Handheld Pentax 67with a grip it is then! haha

ElRooster
12-Jan-2011, 16:36
According to my reading of this ordinance, you are screwed. Make pictures elsewhere. Despite the dreadful summary of the law by the person who wrote the response that has confused us all, the law clearly states that a permit is required for "commercial or filming use" (emphasis mine), and clearly defines "filming" to include still photography. The only exclusion is for "casual" photography "of a non-commercial nature".

What will hang you is "casual". I think you'll have a hard time proving in court that setting up a 4x5 camera on a tripod for an extended period is "casual", if you are trying to fight a citation received by a park ranger. A plain reading of the law, and since I'm not a lawyer that's the only reading I can claim, would suggest a handheld camera as used by nearly all tourists.

"Commercial" is defined as "for profit" which is hard to prove before the fact, but that "or" in the permit requirement makes that point moot.

This is a law that needs changing, it seems to me, but I would not want to try to argue against it in court, and working to change the law seems the better course.

Rick "or learning to make art with a handheld camera when photographing here" Denney

I finally spoke to someone on the phone and they now say that I have the right to photograph at this park as an amateur photographer and they called the ranger to tell him to let me do my thing. I have a right to photograph as I please. Good news and this shows that it is worth fighting for your rights! I am really happy thanks to everybody for their input and advice especially rdenny.

Gabriel

ElRooster
12-Jan-2011, 16:47
"Hello Gabriel,

I am pleased that I was able to clear up any misunderstandings there may have been regarding our policy. Non-commercial, amateur photography does not require a permit. Student film projects or still shoots do require a permit.

Thank you for visiting our parks and for taking the time to contact our office with your concern.

Have a wonderful day!"

rdenney
12-Jan-2011, 18:55
I finally spoke to someone on the phone and they now say that I have the right to photograph at this park as an amateur photographer and they called the ranger to tell him to let me do my thing. I have a right to photograph as I please. Good news and this shows that it is worth fighting for your rights! I am really happy thanks to everybody for their input and advice especially rdenny.

Gabriel

Hey, I'm glad it worked out. Being polite and persistent paid off. I was afraid you were out of luck when I read the wording of that ordinance. But apparently they've decided that amateur photography, even with a view camera is "casual", which is great.

Rick "have fun, and be real friendly with the ranger if he comes around" Denney

Steve Smith
13-Jan-2011, 01:49
Public lands are paid for by public dollars. I pay a huge amount of taxes and will photograph anything I darn well please as long as the park is open. Period.

It would be fun to challenge this nonesense of permits and insurance by setting up a plain wooden box on a tripod.

The health and safty/insurance aspects would be the same if it was a camera or a box but it would be an interesting excercise to be charged with photographing without a permit and/or insurance then bring in exhibit A, a box which cannot take photographs.


I will cheerfully disobey this oppressive law.

Is it actually a law though? Or is it just one of their terms and conditions for being on the land?


Steve.

Steve Smith
13-Jan-2011, 01:55
According to my reading of this ordinance, you are screwed. Make pictures elsewhere.

I have just read that and I would say that amateur use is fine without a permit, with or without a tripod.


Steve.

rdenney
14-Jan-2011, 06:47
I have just read that and I would say that amateur use is fine without a permit, with or without a tripod.

That's not what I read. What I read makes filming, specifically including still photography, a permit-requiring activity, and it also makes "commercial use" a permit-requiring activity. Note the "or" in the ordinance--there is nothing in their statement that requires that photography be commercial. The only exclusion from the permit requirement on filming is "casual use of a non-commercial nature". So, the non-permit-requiring photography must be both "casual" and "non-commercial". The non-commercial part is easy enough in this case. But what about "casual"? The ands and ors are important in any plain reading.

(Often enough, I see things in written laws would suggest the lawmaker intended for the "casual" to be defined by the "of a non-commercial nature", but this is an example of law-speak, not plain language. If they intended "casual" to be defined by "non-commercial", they should have just said "non-commercial". After all, they had already defined "commercial use".)

My experiences suggests there is a different standard required when fighting a citation versus when getting permission, depending on the judge. If one asks permission, is told a permit is required, uses a complex-looking 4x5 camera anyway, and is cited, then one must hinge one's defense on the notion that using a 4x5 is "non-commercial". The judge, after all, would know that Gabriel had asked and been told a permit was required, unless he used an alias with his emails, and unless the ranger forgot his previous warning. But a plain reading indicates that it must also be "casual". What does that mean? In court, it will mean whatever the judge wants it to mean (it is not defined), and your only recourse if you disagree will be an expensive appeal process. This would be the case no matter the intent of the law--that is an argument for a different venue. Would a judge, who is sympathetic to the rangers, overrule their citation on the basis that using a 4x5 camera non-commercially is "casual"? I would not want to risk my $175 plus court costs on it. There is nothing casual-looking about using a 4x5 camera. Now, if they defined "casual" as photography not requiring a support crew, or not requiring commercial models, or whatever, then it would be easier. But they don't offer that definition. One would probably win eventually, but at what cost?

Arguing with the park staff that because it is for amateur use that it is casual is different--they are not trying to protect the legal decisions made by someone with whom they are sympathetic, and they can be swayed by the original intent. Granting their permission is probably no skin off the ranger's nose--he is just doing his job, and if that job is redefined, so be it. But having one of his citations overturned is another matter.

Rick "who might push things further himself that what he would advise a student to attempt" Denney

Marko
14-Jan-2011, 07:54
Would a judge, who is sympathetic to the rangers, overrule their citation on the basis that using a 4x5 camera non-commercially is "casual"? I would not want to risk my $175 plus court costs on it. There is nothing casual-looking about using a 4x5 camera. Now, if they defined "casual" as photography not requiring a support crew, or not requiring commercial models, or whatever, then it would be easier. But they don't offer that definition. One would probably win eventually, but at what cost?

This is the inherent (and hidden) danger in those little nibbles at our rights. They don't call the concept "death by a thousand cuts" for nothing, after all.

The problem is not so much in the encroachment, but in the fact that encroachment looks too tiny to be worth a fight. But one little cut leads to another and before too long, we will wish we fought the very first time. Every time we do choose to fight, a precedent is set which influences all the future fights. Every little battle we decide is not worth fighting is a good potential precedent lost.

There are people who choose to fight this kind of gradual loss of liberties at every opportunity and while they may look like the fringe or goofy types, they are doing us all a great favor. Search for "Photography Is Not A Crime" and explore some of the links.

ElRooster
14-Jan-2011, 08:28
"Hello Gabriel,

I am pleased that I was able to clear up any misunderstandings there may have been regarding our policy. Non-commercial, amateur photography does not require a permit. Student film projects or still shoots do require a permit.

Thank you for visiting our parks and for taking the time to contact our office with your concern.

Have a wonderful day!"

I printed this and will have it with me the next time I go to this park. I believe I am in the clear, because I am a not a professional. The office called the ranger and let him know that what I was doing was fine and didn't need a permit. He was a little confused but was just doing his job and I think it will be fine now. In my case talking to the authorities helped my case, if I didn't ask questions politely I feel that nothing would have happened.
Oh I remember something else the woman on the phone told me; when I said I was a student the ranger was confused because if you are a student doing a student project you DO need a small permit for some reason, but if you are an amateur then it's ok. No different than other park visitors.

rdenney
14-Jan-2011, 10:56
This is the inherent (and hidden) danger in those little nibbles at our rights. They don't call the concept "death by a thousand cuts" for nothing, after all.

We must be careful to distinguish what we would do for ourselves and what we would like those with means and will to do on our behalf, from what we would advise a student of limited means to attempt.

Given that Gabriel had already inquired and been told a permit was required (later revised, of course), he would not be able to invoke the common-sense defense based on the wording of the ordinance. He likely would have been out $175, and without the means to carry it further, would have not achieved your objective of clarifying a poorly written law. He'd be better off writing a polite letter to his elected representative.

I have read the online sources for these issues, linked earlier in the thread, and the lawyer who wrote that web site has all but said he doesn't have the time to do all the work of pursuing it. If he has boundaries of what he can pursue, then so would a student.

Rick "thinking the cure for a death of a thousand cuts is not to proceed directly to the fatal cut by applying it to oneself" Denney

Marko
14-Jan-2011, 19:47
Direct confrontation is not the only, and definitely not the most effective, way to fight this particular battle. Gabriel has obviously chosen the smartest and most efficient way.

Just like he previously acknowledged his awareness of the wording, so have they limited their future options by responding to his civilized inquiry and clarifying the ambiguity.

Had he chosen to not have done anything, this particular acknowledgment would not have happened.

rdenney
14-Jan-2011, 20:13
Direct confrontation is not the only, and definitely not the most effective, way to fight this particular battle. Gabriel has obviously chosen the smartest and most efficient way.

Just like he previously acknowledged his awareness of the wording, so have they limited their future options by responding to his civilized inquiry and clarifying the ambiguity.

Had he chosen to not have done anything, this particular acknowledgment would not have happened.

Isn't that what I said?

Rick "arguments are down the hall" Denney

Marko
15-Jan-2011, 08:59
Isn't that what I said?

Rick "arguments are down the hall" Denney

It is, in a sense that direct confrontation can be very costly. I felt like pointing that there is a difference between choosing a different means to fight and choosing not to fight at all. Gabriel chose the former and I thought it was a great choice, worth mentioning.

Marko

Kevin Crisp
19-Jan-2011, 11:54
And sometimes in public places, it is not OK, even when it is OK:

MIAMI -- A man was arrested and turned over to federal authorities Tuesday after police said he was taking photos of "sensitive areas" inside and outside of a terminal at Miami International Airport.

According to the incident report from Miami-Dade County police, on Jan. 11th, 32-year-old Oluwole Aboyade was seen walking through the airport and taking pictures.

A sergeant stopped Aboyade in the Dolphin parking garage.


In the incident report, he wrote: “I explained to Mr. Aboyade that I was alarmed by his behavior and concerned for the safety of people and property in the area.”

Police said Aboyade did not give them any information about what he was doing or why. In the incident report, the sergeant described his behavior as "evasive."

Police said there was no indication Aboyade had a plane ticket.

Shortly after the confrontation, the sergeant led Aboyade inside the terminal, where he was detained.

After further investigation, federal immigration authorities said Aboyade was in the country illegally and wanted for violating U.S. immigration law.

Because Miami International Airport is a public facility, anyone is allowed to take video and pictures inside.

An official from the Transportation Security Administration told Local 10 that if photography is stepping over the line into surveillance, TSA agents should alert police, which is what happened in Aboyade's case.

Aboyade is currently in custody at the Krome North Detention Center.

Joseph O'Neil
23-Jan-2011, 08:27
A couple of years ago I had my 4x5 Tachihara setup in Bahia Honda state park, under the old bridge that is closed and no longer used. I've included a photo below from my DSLR so you can see for yourself what kind of shape the bridge is in. :)

Great place to shoot IMO, the bridge, the palm trees, the water, and the small chance I might actually get to see a Miami Blue butterfly, one of the most rare and endangered butterflies in the world, with one of the last known spots for them to live is under the old bridge in Bahia Honda state park.

Well, with my ole 4x5 out, some well meaning person "reported strange activity" in that somebody had "some kind of device on a tripod" pointed at the bridge.

So two state park rangers show up, talk to me, and in the end everything worked out fine as they were actually quite nice people and one of them actually knew what a large format camera was. Something "that old" wasn't a threat to anyone, and for what it is (or was ) worth, I got the feeling that I was just another one of those eccentric people they see all the time down in teh Keys. :D

But what got me is I thought they would be more concerned about the butterfly, but no, they had to investigate the "threat" against the bridge. Ah well.

Anyhow, still haven't been able to photograph the butterfly, but will try again. Although I only shoot B&W in my 4x5, the light blue colour of the Miami Blue I think would make for phenominal grey tones in a good old B&W print. I will not try to photograph the bridge however.

As for the bridge, take a look at my attached photo below, and, well, you'll see why I was kinda bewildered at the time....
:D