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Thread: personal safety / security while photographing

  1. #41

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Leipzig, Germany
    Posts
    496

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Always watch your feet when walking (critters, sticks, stones, holes...). When you want to enjoy the scenery, stop. This is especially important when carrying camera gear (tripod). Wear sturdy footwear, no sandals or sneakers. Wear long pants, long sleaved shirts, and a hat. That sun is fierce in the SW. Keep unperishable food in your car. The distance to the next restaurant or store might be bigger than you are used to. Canned meals can be warmed under the hood of your car while you go shooting. Fresh fruit make a great travel companion, I especially enjoy grapes while driving. If you don't like country music on the radio, BRING SOME MUSIC!

    The four corner region must be one of the most beautiful areas on this planet. Take the trip, don't worry, enjoy yourself, take many, many pictures.

    Michael

  2. #42

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Location
    Oregon now (formerly Austria)
    Posts
    2,702

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    I was being flippant (as is my wont) when suggesting Smith & Wesson...

    Perhaps I should get serious. I travel 90-100 days a year in the Southwest, mostly in winter and usually camping in a tent. I travel with my wife (Native American who loves wilderness camping and carrying extra filmholders and lenses... How lucky can I get).

    My safety concerns have little to do with people. For me, an injury out in the backcountry, perhaps in a canyon with no cell phone reception, is my number one concern. Getting lost and having to spend the night out in winter is another.

    When traveling with a companion, the first is less serious, because there is someone who could get help. If you are alone, however, a disabling injury could end up being deadly. Even with a companion, when I am out in rugged country I carry rudimentary first-aid materials. For me, being able to stop bleeding and splint a leg are top priority. I carry a hex-key that I can disassemble my tripod with and a roll of duct tape. With these, I can splint a broken leg and get myself back to the car/camp where I have a more extensive first-aid kit. I also carry an assortment of bandanas, which can be used as bandages along with the duct tape. (All these come in handy for other things as well.)

    I have taken to carrying a cheap, hand-held GPS now, after almost having to spend what would have been a very cold night out in canyon country in the winter. Topo maps are good, but they don't show small obstacles (if your contour lines are 10 meters, a 25-foot cliff won't show up...). I make a waypoint for the car/camp, and a couple more along the way for landmarks, intersections, etc., then I turn the unit off to save battery power. Sometimes it is reassuring to just turn the thing on and see where the arrow points when I tell it to show me which direction my camp is. I also carry a roll of flagging tape and blaze trail when I need to. I blaze in and remove the tape on the trip out. I am looking for images and not paying attention to where I am going a lot of the time, and this helps immensely.

    In my car and on my car are water, firewood, a signal mirror and fire making materials (Bic lighters, matches, etc.), extra gasoline, a sleeping bag, extra clothing, etc. All of this I consider necessary for being comfortable for a while if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. I carry some of these items when hiking as well (mirror, lighter, water, space blanket, Swiss Army knife, duct tape, etc.).

    I also carry my cell phone with a full charge. I consider it an indispensable survival tool.

    As for preventing assault, I would use the numerous prudent precautions mentioned above, including the pepper spray (but not the .357 magnum). As for theft... get some insurance that covers your posessions in the car, leave things in your locked car or take it with you into your hotel room. Document your camera gear. Make a police report immediately if anything is stolen. This should at least get you a replacement if anything is stolen.

    Hope the above augments the other fine feedback you've received so far.

    And, don't worry too much. It's good to take precautions, but, in the almost 30 years I've been photographing off-road and in the back country, nothing scary has ever happened to me (except for the one time I almost had to spend the night out...).

    Best,

    Doremus

  3. #43
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,442
    Sheesh. Anyone carrying everything you guys are suggesting won't have room for cameras.

    Traveling in the desert requires a degree of self-sufficiency, but how much depends on your distance from the Interstate. For desert driving, I bring a small but well-stocked toolbox (and the skill to use it), at least five gallons of water, a first-aid kit, a small shovel, a blanket, a good spare tire, and a complete set of USGS quads. These days, the quads are on the iPhone and a Garmin is more useful for paved roads. (Cell coverage is spotty at best, so don't depend on it.) Everything else just stays in the truck.

    As for bad guys, you probably are at more risk for that where you live now. Whatever skills you have now for maintaining situational awareness and avoiding risks work in the desert, too.

    Rick "noting that thievery is much more common than robbery in most of the Southwest" Denney

  4. #44

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    4,394

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    I haven't seen it much here in AZ, but when in NM I saw cars broken into at trailheads a lot. Actually, they were often just broken, vandalized by smashing large rocks through the windshields. And it was often the really nice, new Range Rovers and Lexus SUVs. I even saw cars parked on the shoulder of interstates, sometimes with a flat tire or other breakdown indications, the owner off to get help, only to return to find the windshield smashed out. This was 10 years ago, but there was a really ruthless population that resented intruders and rich people.

    Once, near Taos, I parked at an official dirt parking spot near a popular hot spring in the Rio Grande. The trail dropped down the canyon to the springs, only a half a mile or less. The area was desolate, 2-3 miles off the paved roads. When I parked there were two other cars there. I walked halfway down the trail, thought of something I'd forgotten in my car, and walked back up to get it. In the 15 minutes I'd been gone, someone had appeared out of the rocks, broken the window of the car parked beside me, and left (or ran when their lookout saw me coming).

    When I parked I always tried to hide my 4WD in a wash, behind some mesquites, etc. I figured if they didn't see a vehicle there, they'd cruise to the next location.

  5. #45

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Milford Pa.
    Posts
    2,923

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuzano View Post

    Incidentally, I am NOT a member of the NRA. First, I don't believe in their politics.
    i agree. dont tell my gun club.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    A more common car problem: being out in the middle of nowhere and losing the key or locking it in.
    a rock will get you inside a vehicle faster than a key will......

    i once bet my friend i could get into his locked car in less than 7 seconds without a key......he took me up on it.....when i grabbed the closest brick sized rock he quickly welched on the bet.......
    My YouTube Channel has many interesting videos on Soft Focus Lenses and Wood Cameras. Check it out.

    My YouTube videos
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  6. #46

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,472

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    I don't want to leave my bunker, daylight is scary.

  7. #47
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    14,762

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Eddie - a smashed window isn't the nicest thing if you encounter snow the next day, or
    just up the next pass. Easier just to have a spare key. And if it's a rented car, they aren't
    too fond of the idea either. I've always traveled in conspicuously used pickups, preferably
    4WD. Photo gear goes into ordinary-looking picnic boxes or scroungy-looking backpacks.
    It has always worried me leaving any gear in the car. Once on a long backpack into the
    canyons I didn't want to leave my MF gear behind, so my nephew volunteered to carry
    it in his pack. He wasn't too pleased when I never shot it the entire trip, and only used the
    view camera. Quite a bit of extra load for him. Since then I might leave a perfectly functional but otherwise worn brassy Pentax 6x7 in the car for roadside inifinity potshots, but nothing I can't inexpensively replace. But so far, no break-ins after decades of travel
    all over the West. I usually park at trailheads a bit troublesome for the low-lifes to get to,
    or when possible, ask local rangers about the risk of parking at a particular location.

  8. #48

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    St. Louis, Mo.
    Posts
    3,032

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    I don't want to leave my bunker, daylight is scary.
    I left my bunker one time in Washington D.C. It was a nightmare out there!

    Oh wait a minute. That wasn't real. It was Fallout 3.

  9. #49

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    3,114

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Smith & Wesson....?
    Remington. The pump variety.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  10. #50
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    14,762

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Anyone try traveling with a nervous pet skunk? That should do the trick.

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