View Full Version : Why is a tripod such a threat?

8-Aug-2006, 12:55
In past posts many of you have cited instances of illegal tripod use even though
cameras could be used without a tripod. There have been cases where shop
owners, security guards and police have immediately intervened with the threat
of penalties, even arrest. Why is it that tripod use is not tolerated by property
owners and government?

8-Aug-2006, 13:04
Tripod==Pro . I think that's part of it. In crowd areas it's the tripping hazard.

Ron Marshall
8-Aug-2006, 16:23
I photographed hand-held 35mm at Angkor Wat a couple of years ago, without charge. A friend went soon after with a LF and tripod and the first time he set-up he was told by the guard he had to pay a few hundred a day for a permit.

They considered anyone with a tripod to be a pro, and wanted a cut of whatever he might eventually earn.

Brian Ellis
8-Aug-2006, 19:09
The fear that users of tripods are pros and might be making money off the facility without paying anything, the fact that some security types are asses, the possibly justified idea that in some places a tripod is a hazard, the thought that the tripod will be there for a while and may be blocking the view or access of others, the fact that the photographer with a tripod is an easy target since he or she can't cut and run quickly, the fact that people who are in a position to make rules like to do so because it makes them feel important and powerful, who knows what else. I don't think there's a single reason. And in fact in many areas tripods are tolerated. I photographed in downtown Tampa with a tripod for many years and was asked only once, very nicely, by a security guard to stop. Once I was photographing the outside of a building and was asked by the owner to come inside and photograph there too if I wanted to. I think we tend to hear about the bad situations, not too many of us start threads that say "I photographed with my tripod yesterday and no one gave me a hard time."

8-Aug-2006, 19:48
I think we tend to hear about the bad situations, not too many of us start threads that say "I photographed with my tripod yesterday and no one gave me a hard time."

Good point, Brian. I too have heard most of these reasons why tripod photography is "not allowed". But I have also had good experiences with tripod use even in some areas where tripods are often frowned upon. The stories aren't very interesting, however: I went somewhere, set up my tripod and 4x5, shot a few sheets, and left. The pics were good and are exhibited on my living room wall. Not very interesting... see what I mean?

Another Brian

8-Aug-2006, 21:01
Well, er, I must admit to using a tripod center-column (with Arca B1 head attached) to swat a fellow who attempted to relieve me of my camera. It happened on a lonely beach in St. Vincent a few years back: I didn't hear the gentleman approach over the noise of the waves. He had a knife, but I had a ready-made Arca-mace. It all happened so fast, and I still can't believe I actually hit somebody. Anyway, I got his arm, he dropped the knife, and ran away. Tripods are a threat alright!

Eric James
8-Aug-2006, 21:59
I have never used a tripod as a defense weapon but often carry my G1548 partially extended with RRS head set for impact when traveling in moose and bear country. If confronted by wildlife by plan would be to raise the thing overhead to intimidate the beast, and if charged, take one good swing. In reality I would probably shiver behind the closest tree (moose) or get closer to my maker during a charge (bear). On one occasion a few years back I was skiing with my dog in moose country with a G1228 on my back. I soon discovered that is was way too cold for aurora photography (as dressed) that night, so I just kept moving. On the way home we were confronted by a moose in the trail. Even when wearing the extended 1228 and poles as a hat it refused to budge - the stand-off lastest ~15 minutes and as my toes and finger froze I realized that the beast had won the stand off so we back-tracked and returned by an ungroomed alternate route adding 10KM to the adventure.

Two years ago I was testing some new lenses on a local brick wall - it retrospect, I could have chosen a better site, but bricks aren't too common in Alaska and the local CDC building was the closest. Nor did it help that the terrorist threat level had just been escalated. I had barely finished setting up when I was told by a CDC researcher that security was on the way and I had better high tail it the hell out. I calmly explained what I was up to but my story fell on deaf ears. (Secretly I knew that security would respond from the nearby Anchorage Native Medical Center, and the person most likely to read me the riot act would take a good 10 minutes to finish his coffee before setting out. I restated my case while taking the necessary shots - and even swapped lenses for another test - all while calmly going around and around with the guy from the CDC. He was polite and soon realized that I was not a threat - but security was on the way, he reminded me. I packed up and headed home (waving to the security fella as we crossed paths) and finished my testing on my garage door.

I haven't been confronted by another human beast over the use of a tripod in the past couple years but I have read with great interest this and related threads. The advise that makes the most sense to me is to 1) deny being professional, 2) stay calm and acquiesce, 3) come back later if possible and 4) show them your prescription bottle of Sinemet, and hope for sympathy.

9-Aug-2006, 08:01
"show them your prescription bottle of Sinemet, and hope for sympathy."

:) :)

Paul Metcalf
9-Aug-2006, 08:14
My "no tripods allowed" encounters have only centered on the perception that the tripod was an impediment to foot traffic in highly congested areas (around perimeter of Washington Monument - within the flag circle, inside/atop the Empire State building, in the Metro Tunnel in Washington DC, and inside the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO). Both of the Washington DC encounters were pre-9/11, the Empire State building and Stanley Hotel encounters were post 9/11. So far, no "Big Brother", anti-pro-you-can't-make-money-off-of-my-thing-you're-trying-to-take-a-picture-of, nor self-defense incidents (knock on ries Wooden tripod).

Louie Powell
9-Aug-2006, 08:42
I have encountered the "no tripod" thing twice. In on instance (at Fort Ticongeroga), I was told that their policy forbade tripods on the basis of the potential impediment to foot traffic. Interestingly, at the time the policy was not publicized either as postings at the entrance or on their web site. It was very frustrating to be turned away after driving up there with the expectation of being able to make photographs.

At the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA they have a well-publicized no-tripod rule. In that instance, it is my understanding that they are concerned about potential damage to the old wooden flooring in the buildings. I understand and can appreciate that concern - I don't know if they are willing to make exception with prior arrangements if they know that the tripod will be equipped with rubber feet although there are several books (some of which are sold in the museum's gift shop) that feature photographs clearly made there with large cameras and tripocs.

Several years ago I was going to be in Maine, and contacted the group who manage the Fort Knox historical site to inquire about the use of tripods and large format. They assured me that there would be no problem, but to be on the safe side, we went mid-week and got there early. But there was a problem afterall - the person who was selling admission tickets was also a photographer and wanted to get into a long conversation about equipment selection. Very difficult to get away from her to start making pictures!

I was photographing at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY on Monday. They apparently have no restriction on photography or the use of tripods. I tried to be reasonable and considerate, making sure that the rubber feet on my tripod covered the spikes completely for any indoor setup, and keeping out of the way of people as much as possible. A couple of the museum employees asked me if I was doing it "for myself" (ie, confirming that I didn't have a commercial intent). A pleasant experience altogether.

I also had a nice experience with a tripod in the Utica (NY) train station a few weeks ago - not only did the station master not complain about what I was doing, he invited me to come back and offered to give me access to areas that were not open to the public. He was proud of his building and wanted to show it off!

Jeremy Moore
9-Aug-2006, 09:11
"show them your prescription bottle of Sinemet, and hope for sympathy."

:) :)

I've got a prescription for that stuff... probably the only thing I have in commong with Weston ;)