Hassled in Death Valley

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by Gary892, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Gary892

    Gary892 Member

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    Some friends and I decided to meet in Death Valley for the weekend of February 23,24, and 25 2007. It so happens that most like to photograph. 1 had an 8x10, 2 had 4x5’s, and 1 had medium format. The others used D****** Cameras. We all arrived late Friday after noon and set up a schedule of meeting places and time. The way it worked was at 5:00 be at Zabriski (sp) Point if you want. 9:00 Sand Dunes by Stove Pipe Wells as an example. All meeting places were voluntary but Dinner was required.

    All was going well until Sunday Morning when four of us were at “Hells Gate”. A park ranger truck showed up with two Rangers and they proceeded to give us a hard time about photographing with out permits and licenses. The cameras in use were 1 8x10, 1 4x5, and 2 D******. The asked if we were a workshop, the answer was no. They asked if we were a photo group and the answer was no. We told them we were friends and we were out enjoying the day and doing some photography and none of the images were for commercial use.

    One ranger’s response really surprised me. He said “you are using a tripod so the pictures must be for commercial use.” One friend started to explain why the tripod was needed when I just gave him a look to pack up and leave.

    We managed to avoid a ticket but we were followed around the rest of the day.

    As I traveled around the valley I saw many people with large format cameras and tripods but they didn’t get bothered. How do I know? I asked a few of them.

    So I guess the message is, don’t congregate in groups to go photographing in our National Parks.
     
  2. david b

    david b Member

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    what is a d****** camera?
     
  3. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    What were the names of the Rangers and their badge numbers?
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    One of the DV rangers is an LF photographer himself and is on APUG. I think his userid is something like "RangerBob." Try sending him a PM and I'd bet he'd be willing to brief his colleagues. A search on "Death Valley ranger" should turn up some of his posts.
     
  5. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I've see this kind of remark on other threads about officious peaked-cappedness. I do wonder at the thought process (for want of a better term) that must be going on in order to come out with this kind of nonsense.

    • You need a special "professional photographer" ID Card or they won't sell you a tripod?
    • Tripods are so amazingly expensive that only professional photographers (who are, by definition, all rich) can afford them?

    When it's a undertrained, knuckle-dragging private security bod who's obviously parroting what he's been told to say by a jobsworth chair-warmer it's irritating but understandable. When it's a park ranger, one wonders...

    One thought - If you tell someone (accurately) that you're a not a professional photographer and they maintain in front of witnesses that because you're using a tripod you are a professional and are therefore breaking some law...

    ...is that slander?
     
  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The NPS Director's Order #53 on special uses states:

    "14.1 Permits Requirements. The Special Use Permit (Form 10-114) is the instrument used to authorize filming or photography in NPS areas.

    A permit is required for any filming or photography that:

    * involves the use of a model, set, or prop; or
    * requires entry into a closed area; or
    * requires access to the park before or after normal working hours.

    A permit is not required for:

    * A visitor using a camera and/or a recording device for his/her own personal use and within normal visitation areas and hours; or
    * A commercial photographer not using a prop, model, or set, and staying within normal visitation areas and hours; or
    * Press coverage of breaking news. This never requires a permit, but is subject to the imposition of restrictions and conditions necessary to protect park resources and public health and safety, and to prevent impairment or derogation of park resources or values."

    Note that the word 'tripod' does not appear in this policy, and therefore its use was a matter of interpretation by the ranger involved. Likewise, the policy makes it very clear that commercial photography is allowed and does not require any special permits.

    I suggest sending a letter to the superintendent of the DV park, with a copy to the director of the NPS, complaining about the treatment you received. You may not get an apology, but hopefully the superintendent will see the need to educate his rangers.

    For what its worth, I was photographing on both the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods parks (both NPS properties) last with with a 4x5 - no problems whatsoever.
     
  7. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Exactly. I would have demanded a ticket...oh please give me a day in court over bullshit like this...
     
  8. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I think I'll stash a copy of that in my camera bag.
     
  9. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i have had in the past 6 months been approached when using a tripod, and have been asked to leave. Tripod =professional=not a good thing; or so it seems to be these days.
     
  10. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Perhaps someone could check to find out if this policy has been re-validated... it may have expired in Dec 2006:

    DIRECTOR'S ORDER #53: SPECIAL PARK USES

    Approved: /s/ Fran P. Mainella (signed original on file)
    Director

    Effective Date: April 4, 2000

    Sunset Date: December 31, 2006 (or when superseded)
     
  11. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    This was my first thought on reading the original post!
     
  12. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I don't have the regs in front of me right now but there are two phrases in them that they use as a carch-all to screw with us.

    One is "Hand Held" meaning no tripod. The other is "Self contained" that can be used to mean anything other than a simple point and shoot. They can include LF film holders, off camera flashes, hand held light meters and even interchangable lenses. Anything not part of the camera body.

    How do I know this? NPS told me so. I have had the same problems in Death valey, Zion and Arches. Death Valey was by far the worst.
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Okay, I found "Ranger Bob" and sent him a PM. Let's hope he sees it and can provide some real information here.
     
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  15. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Ha, it seems like the NPS doesn't want tripods but are gung-ho over snowmobiles and atvs...EC
     
  16. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Interestingly, when my GF, a couple models, a MUA and I were out there in January after Photo LA, we were stopped too (I had the tripod, yellow hassey, d****** camera and lots of lighting gear). Explained what I was doing (collaborative work for our portfolio), showed some of my work, asked if he'd like to be part of the shoot and he said OK. "Next time get a permit."

    Similar thing happened on Santa Monica Beach. Actually used the "Beach Officer" in the shoot too. He was also thrilled. Made him sign a release - the irony.

    When dealing with Napoleonic men in 'power', seems like grumpy old men with big ass cameras doesn't do it. :tongue: BUT, it helps to have some gorgeous women in skimpy clothing around!

    Regards, Art.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2007
  17. DannL

    DannL Member

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    The basic policy looks fairly cut and dry to me. Most parks have a headquarters/administration where you can ask specific questions in advance.

    http://home.nps.gov/applications/digest/permits.cfm?urlarea=permits

    The other side of this "story" is . . . you were either "hassled" or you were not. If you were, then it is imperative that you contact the park administration and get clarification on this matter, without delay. Explain your experience exactly as it occured. "You" must approach this matter in a mature/professional manner. It is always advantageous to make your intentions known in advance.
     
  18. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I think I recall seeing a posting recently about a statement issued by the Director of the NPS trying to clarify in a positive way their position on non-commercial photography, but I wasn't able to find it in a quick search this morning.

    Seems like there is a choice:

    1. Anything not specifically permitted is prohibited.

    versus

    2. Anything not specifically prohibited is permitted.

    The latter is what should happen in a free society, but it seems to me that we are moving in the direction of the former.
     
  19. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

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    Ok, I've had enough. I will start here and go from there. Maybe these guys will be sympathetic. These are the guys that house the NPS photo collection....most of which were probalby taken with a TRIPOD!!!

    NPS Historic Photograph Collection


    There are presently 2000 images from the Collection available online. The collections of several eminent National Park Service photographers, including Jack Boucher, Arno B. Cammerer, George A. Grant, and Abbie Rowe, are also included in the Collection


    What Harpers Ferry Center Provides
    Contact Harpers Ferry Center for media assistance or to start a media project. Give us a call at 304-535-5050The National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection is comprised of more than two million images which cover a wide variety of subjects: Park architecture, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Native American heritage, NPS personnel, roads and transportation, scenic views, and much more.

    I will call these guys and work my way up the ladder. I pay more than my fair share of taxes to be hassled with a tripod.

    Let's gang up on this one.....



    .
     
  20. lee

    lee Member

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    I was hassled at the NPS San Antonio several years ago and was told I needed a permit. I packed up and went to see the man in charge since I wanted this to be a legit project and if I needed a permit I was willing to get one. The man in charge told me that I did not need a permit and the ranger that told me that was wrong. If I was shooting a commercial for TV or print media ok but for my own project I was good to go. I went back many times and was never hassled again.

    lee\c
     
  21. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I was in DV the weekend before you with tripod, et al. No hassles. I have never been hassled there, but I know others that have been. One friend was asked by a ranger if he was a professional since my friend was using a tripod. My friend asked the ranger what his hobby was -- "fishing". So my friend asked the ranger if he had a boat. "Yes". Did the boat make him a professional? I think that was the end of that.

    I imagine in your case you looked like a workshop and there are lots of them there all the time. You have to admit that it is pretty unusual to have that many people together in one place with tripods and big cameras.

    I have forwarded this thread to a NPS administrator/ranger that I know. I'll let you know if I hear back.
     
  22. DannL

    DannL Member

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    Part two of my reply . . .

    Read section 14.1 Permits Requirements.

    http://www.nps.gov/policy/DOrders/DOrder53.html

    Though, as mentened earlier, the policy is probably being renewed/reviewed. In either case, and until that happens, I believe this is the current standing policy for the NPS.

    I think the funniest part of this thread is seeing how folks interprete a policy they have never seen or read. Especially the different versions of "how I'd handle this situation". That just shows me how dedicated we really are to the preservation of our basic rights. Everyone is aware that we have basic rights, they just don't know what they are. :tongue:
     
  23. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I know what my rights are. I just don't know what all my government has done in violation of them at any given moment.
     
  24. photobum

    photobum Member

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    It's funny how these things go. Just this weekend I hung a 16x20 on my living room wall. It was shot at a APUG meet in Asbury Park a year an a half ago. Shot from inside the Casino looking out onto the boardwalk. You can see tripods on the boardwalk and our own David Goldfarb in the background.

    The town officals were so happy to see us shooting there that the beach badge people were told to let us on the beach for free if we wanted.
     
  25. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Gary is there a local town that has newspaper coverage for the area? I'd like to write a little article for their publication.

    Second, were these rangers out of a specific office. I would like the number to call. The best way to handle stuff of this type is to barrage them with complaints. With the number of us around we should let them know our voice. I don't mind permits for large commercial usage but for enthusiasts it's bs.
     
  26. Gary892

    Gary892 Member

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    I have read all the responses up to this point and I need to shed some light why I did not argue with the ranger.
    I was told not too long ago by a NPS Ranger in Joshua Tree Nation Park, that if you get a ticket on National Park Land that ticket stays with you forever. So if you ever get stopped by any police officer it shows up as a federal alert. I have no way of checking to see if that is true or not because I know no one I trust who can confirm that.

    Secondly, when I was 22 I am now 56, I was traveling through Texas, nothing against Texas it's just where this happened, I was pulled over for speeding. Yes I was speeding 10 miles over the speed limit. The officer escorted me back to a house that turned out to be the Judge's house and I was charged right then and there. The "Bail" if you will, was $22.50. At that time that was a lot of money to me. Fortunately I had enough money to pay and they let me leave. The judge even gave me a receipt.

    Since that day, I have a level if distrust of anyone who has the power to throw me in jail justified or not. So I never confront an officer or a park ranger.