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Thread: Field Etiquette

  1. #11
    Robert A. Zeichner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Southfield, Michigan

    Field Etiquette

    I just returned from a trip to the Canadian Rockies with 5 other photographers. We were all trying to set up for a scene of Mt. Rundle refelcted in Vermillion Lake and were on the verge of tripping our shutters when a tour bus drove in on a road between us and the lake. This was a totally inappropriate road for such a vehicle and there wasn't even a place for it to turn around to get out. The bus parked and a herd of German tourists made a beeline for the hill on which we were standing. We were stunned as they surrounded us, clicking away with their digital point & shoots, getting in front of us and doing everything else they could to interrupt our activities. It was so hopeless, that one in our group just whipped out his digital camera and shot the rest of us being attacked. The bus then attempted to back out and nearly ran off the road just as it was beteween us and the scene. We all waved and shouted "right there, that's perfect". The driver opened his door and announced that he was simply trying to back out of the half mile road he let himself get conned into driving down and that he was not parking. The toruists seemed upset that they now had to walk back to the bus. What a firedrill that was. I guess sometimes, you just have to step back and laugh a bit, otherwise you just get upset and ruin your day. I'm certain we will enjoy a laugh or two whenever we recall this. I did get a couple of nice negatives afterall as I'm sure did the others.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    SF Bay Area

    Field Etiquette

    All good points. I did not mean to impart a sense of annoyance; in fact, the whole scene was rather amusing -- and, yes, good for the future of sheet film! I sincerely hope that the group came away with some very fine images. Anyway, I found plenty to photograph down the beach. Back to the darkroom.

  3. #13

    Field Etiquette


    You didn't mention the location, but I'm guessing it was Cannon Beach (or maybe Ecola State Park just north of town). The wonderful thing is that the entire Oregon Coast is open to the public - all 360 miles of it. So, it's not usually too hard to find your own lonely section of beach to photograph in solitude.

    I've spent quite a bit of time photographing at the Coast, and other than right at Haystack Rock, I seldom have to worry about peole getting in my shot. I tend to avoid the summer tourist season (I prefer the mountains in the summer). In all my years photographing at the Oregon Coast, I think I've seen two other large format photographers. So, the troupe you saw (a workshop, no doubt) is a rare event.

    As far as the etiquette question... I'm a firm believer in first-come, first-served. If you're there first, you claim your spot and it's yours until you're done. I do recall an amusing situation in Zion Canyon a few years ago when two photographers set up at the same time, shooting in oppsitie direction, each in the other's shot. As they each had spent considerable time setting up, they both refused to move. A regular Texas stand-off. After much stomping around and waving of arms, words were exchanged, but both still refused to move. They were both still standing there when I left. I'm not sure if either ever got the shot the wanted. Sometimes it's more productive to just pack up and move on.

    Although I shoot alone a lot, I have no problem shooting with others. I have one friend I've shot with for years, and we NEVER get photos that look remotely similar. We just see things differently. It works out well.


  4. #14

    Field Etiquette

    Drink lots of beer the night before you go shooting. Eat beans for breakfast. The cloud of noxious gas surrounding you all day will act as a force-field to keep other photographers away.

  5. #15
    grumpy & miserable Joseph O'Neil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    London, Ontario

    Field Etiquette

    I suppose it depends on where you setup. I was in Colorado this past summer in July, and three places stick out in my head:

    1) Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

    What a bunch of *ssh*les! Sorry, but never in my life have I ever met so many rude people. Almost every time I setup my tripod and 4x5, somebody, from somewhere would walk or stand right in front of me and take a shot. It's almost as if "hey, look at that guy, he's got a tripod, shoot what he's doing quick!"

    I dunno, but I wouldn't ever want to shoot there again unless I was well armed and had a half a dozen pit bulls on long leashes. Is there a way to mount a Speed Graphic on top of a .50 cal and maybe snap off a shot between tracer rounds?

    Weird thing was, the people who lived in Colorado Springs, at least the ones I met, were all very nice. Even other toursity spots like Pike's Peak - all nice people. Go figure?

    2) Aspen, Co.
    What a totally amazing town to shoot large format in! I would go back there in a heartbeat. Abolute total opposite to my experience in the Garden of the Gods. Two things happened in Aspen. First, I have never in my life had some many strangers just come up out of the blue and compliment me on my 4x5, and be seriously interested in it.
    Secondly, the moment I setup anywhere, no matter how crowded, peopel just got out of the way, even before I looked up.

    It's almost as if they pour concentrated politeness in the tap water in Aspen. Key West, FL is a pretty good place to shoot large format - lots to image, and nice people there too (even the drunks there have a weird respect for my 4x5 when I used it), but Aspen was simply amazing.

    When I win the big lottery....ah well.

    3) Independance Pass, CO.
    The whole route is amazing, and I highly reccomend it to any LF shooter. A few precautions to take for sure, but overall people were polite, nobody got in yoru way, but nobody paid much attention to you either whnever I pulled out my 45. pretty anonymous, which was okay by me.

    so I think the best answer is where you shoot, more than what manners are or should be. For example, at home here, once I had an older homeless guy threaten me because he didn't wan't me to get his picture to the space aliens and the CIA. Or was it the NSA? Never mind I was shooting away from him, he knew how these things worked.

    Conversely, first year I was in Key West, a homelss man said for a buck he'd tell me where all the good shooting spots were. he told me he wasn't hungry, but wanted a beer before lunchtime. I can respect honesty, so i figured, what the heck. SOB - turned out he really did know some good spots. I gave him a little extra to get that beer, and was possibly one of the best monies I spent that year.

    have fun
    eta gosha maaba, aaniish gaa zhiwebiziyin ?

  6. #16

    Field Etiquette

    I take a bull horn along with me. When someone gets in my way I just yell out, "Get out of my picture or at least take off your clothes."

    Works every time.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Field Etiquette

    Curmudgeon, your reply reminds me of an “issue” I have noticed at my local supermarket. The place is full of naive women who are blissfully unaware of anyone behind them who may also be trying to shop. With shopping cart parked sideways, blocking the aisle, they stand deep in thought, or perhaps intent on counting the ceiling tiles.

    Once in a while I have the good fortune to shop at the same time as a very distinguished, well-dressed elderly gentleman who has found the perfect solution.

    Doing his perfect impression of the actor Monty Woolley, he sings old Nelson Eddy - Jeanette MacDonald love songs at the top of his lungs. Absolutely scares the wits out of these self-absorbed thoughtless matrons. They scatter like sparrows.

    Perhaps singing lessons should be in my future as well.

  8. #18
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Everett, WA

    Field Etiquette

    Bring a chainsaw and a hockey mask. Works like a charm! :-)

    Don't ask them to move. Just ask them to take their clothes off.

    The only time that I've seen lots of other photographers is when I have been over to Heather Meadows near Mount Baker. There's a much-photographed lake which is a camera magnet. Nobody can get in each other's way because there's only a few feet of land that you can stand or else you're in the water or on the road.

    I actually enjoy setting up my camera on the edge of a precipice. Nobody can get in front of my lens. Not for long, anyways!

    Kerry: You should have set up your camera right between theirs, photographing at a 90-degree angle to the both of them. It wouldn't have even mattered if you actually exposed film, its just the idea that a third person can pop between both of them, and make a shot!
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Field Etiquette

    Just a gentle reminder.....

    If people are only stepping in front of you after you emerge from the darkcloth, they are being polite. They just don't understand the process.

  10. #20

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Calgary, AB Canada

    Field Etiquette

    If someone set up their tripod almost over top of mine, I would probably pull a Jack Nicholson and pee on the guys tripod. Gotta mark you spot ya know LOL.
    Eric Rose

    I don't play the piano, I don't have a beard and I listen to AC/DC in the darkroom. I have no hope as a photographer.

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