Tripod restrictions NYC/NY state parks 2009

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by eddie gunks, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    hey all,

    my experience on august 22, 2009.

    we were at a NY state park yesterday in NYC. it is in Brooklyn. we wanted to shoot across to the Manhattan skyline. great clouds etc.

    we walked through the gate and were accosted by the "guard" about our tripods. we politely asked to speak with his supervisor. he was happy to send us there. The super explained to use that NO COMMERCIAL photography is allowed in the NYS parks. "THEY" (not these two i am sure) have decided the definition of commercial is tripod use. we collected the necessary info for the "permit" which includes a $1,000,000 insurance rider!

    we turned in our LF cameras for hand held MF stuff and shot what we could.

    we will be drafting a letter to the various departments regarding their definition of commercial.

    we will post the letter we draft here so others can print it and send it in as well. i believe it will be most beneficial if we used snail mail as snail mail is not easily dismissed with the delete button.

    i found this so far. again, some one told the employees that the definition of commercial photography=tripods.

    if any one cares to help or write letters please do. i will try and get something drafted but i may not be the best writer for this.

    i spoke with the supervisor named Mechelle Morgan. a very nice and professional person....just miss informed IMO.

    any help?

    eddie
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've been approached by guards for this reason in Battery Park and in the parks along the Hudson up the west side of Manhattan up through Chelsea. Usually they just inquire whether the photographs are for commercial use and accept the explanation that they are for personal use. I'm sure the interpretation can vary from one park to the next. For instance, they're usually more restrictive about tripods at Fulton's Ferry landing in DUMBO, where people like to photograph the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, so it could be a Brooklyn issue, and maybe a letter writing campaign should focus on whatever division of the NYS parks service is responsible for Brooklyn. No one has ever bothered me with a tripod on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, but it doesn't seem to be a very actively patrolled area, at least not by Park police--just the NYPD, and they aren't worried about tripod use.

    Usually I'm photographing in places where no one cares about a guy with a strange camera on a tripod--

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I had a similar experience at Fort Ticonderoga a few years ago.

    The frustrating part of this is that you made the effort to visit the venue only to be told that you weren't allowed to make photographs. These places need to understand that if they are going to have rules that exclude certain people, they need to post those rules where prospective visitors can look for them and then decide whether to visit.

    They also need to understand that their rules need to be explicit and not something that requires interpretation by the minimum-wage high school dropouts they hire as rent-a-cops.

    I can certainly understand prohibitions against commercial photography in these places. And I can understand that in some places (and at some times), there is a logical issue with the use of tripods as a matter of public safety and crowd control. But what I can't understand is how a bureaucrat can decide that the use of a tripod ALWAYS equates with commercial photography. You are generous in calling it misinformed. Another interpretation is it is blatantly discriminatory. There are handicapped people who must use a tripod to do photography - New York State Parks are very sensitive to the issue of access for the handicapped.

    Final thought - TripAdvisor.com provides an opportunity to write travel reviews. I wonder what would happen if some of these places started being reported as "NOT PHOTOGRAPHY FRIENDLY".
     
  4. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    this is not just common to your part of the world. It is a strange thought pattern that leads folks down that path; however, i have been "kicked " out of a cemetry for the same reasons ; tripod =commerical whether it is true or not.

    i hope you are successful with your campaign
     
  5. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    thanks so far.

    it would be helpful if others would print out the letter i WILL post here and send it off as well. it would be great if they got more than two letters. all it would require is a stamp and an envelop.

    i will try and get something put together ASAP.

    i am sure the workers i encountered were told to say what they did. IF not i am sure their boss is going to give em an earful. lets see what i can come up with.

    eddie
     
  6. Mark Minard

    Mark Minard Member

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    Thanks for the heads up on this issue; I never realized NYS Parks had this kind of policy in place.

    Unrelated but back in '88 I had a farmer roll up on me holding a shotgun.. Scared the hell out of me but taught me a lesson I've never forgotten. I always ask, very nicely. Nice goes a long way, I've found :smile:
     
  7. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    While I've never had this problem I understand it does exist for many. I will sign your letter Eddie.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I've been approached once in a awhile here in Richmond, Va about using a tripod for the same reason.

    Jeff
     
  9. FM2N

    FM2N Member

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    Eddie,
    Sorry to hear you had the trouble. I often shoot in that park and have never been bothered. They just ask if i am a pro, I say no they move on and I take my photos. I would be glad to sign the letter. Probably happened because you did not drop me a line. HAHA
    Arthur
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I will sign the letter.

    Steve
     
  11. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    This is pretty much the norm in most parks. It just comes down to selective enforcement. I had a similar experience at Great Falls (Virginia side) last January.

    I had climbed the fence of the overlook, set up some MF gear on a tripod, tied it and me to the fence post with climbers' rope and began shooting. Within a few minutes, a friendly VA. park ranger asked if I had a permit for photography. I said no, and added that I didn't know that I needed one.

    He asked if I planned to sell my photography and I replied, "That sure would be nice." He then explained the difference between the tourist snap-shots and "Commercial" photography. He added that the Hasselblad (yes, he knew what he was looking at), the tripod, and the climber's rope pretty much ruled out "tourist snap shots."

    He let me finish up and suggested that in the future I consider a permit.
     
  12. Tom Nutter

    Tom Nutter Member

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    This access problem is definitely a coastal problem...in the interior of the country, people are less apt to tell you you can't do something; quite the opposite in fact. I was once at a rodeo in the state of Wyoming photographing through the fence with a Leica and a 28mm. The guy with a clip board inside said, "Sir am I in your way?" I said no, and that his job was more important than mine. He then told me that I was welcome to come inside and photograph the bull ride from where he was standing...right next to the gate where the bulls come out jumping. I said that was quite alright, but thanks. I don't know if I looked like a pro or not, but no one on the east coast, where I live, has ever made such an offer. I have often been told not to take pictures however, in various situations.
    I've also been given absurd explanations by differing parties about why I am not allowed to make photographs in any said situation...ranging from, "We hired the model, so you can't take pictures," to "The Patriot Act makes it illegal for you to photograph that." Civil Liberties are definitely a low priority in many places.

    Also, the national parks service has a fairy lengthy and complicated system for obtaining permits to photograph in one of their parks. If I think of the link, I will post it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2009
  13. Tom Nutter

    Tom Nutter Member

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    AHHH... here it is! Now you can't say you didn't know!

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

    ...and to tie this all together... I once had a friend who was trying to photograph a building adjacent to the Liberty Bell park in Philadelphia. He set foot on the grounds of the Bell with his tripod and view camera, and before he could even line up a shot of said building, was lectured about "professional" permits and sent away, even after explaining his intentions. This was prior to September 11.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2009
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  15. Stefan Findel

    Stefan Findel Member

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    Eddie,

    I can't open your link 'this'.

    I support you and will sign your letter or write a similar one.

    Stefan
     
  16. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    thanks stefan. i can not get it to work now either. it was just the rules saying no commercial photography. but it did not define commercial. i will find it again.

    thanks for writing a letter. it is easy for me to write one from me about my specific experience but it takes more to write one others can print sign and send.

    thanks all. i am drafting now.

    eddie
     
  17. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    As a visitor to the US, Florida to be precise, back in 2005. I had no problems photographing while using my baby EbonySW23 on a tripod in the amusement parks, Disney, MGM, Universal. Officials were all very friendly and accommodating. I wish I could say the same here in the UK. Photography around London can be a real pain with security breathing down my neck. Sometimes they are even breathing down my neck before I've even got the camera on the tripod.:mad:
     
  18. DLawson

    DLawson Member

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    I forget whether it was in the Patriot Act or just around the same time, but there were some US laws passed restricting photography of things you could stand and stare at all day (power plants, bridges, etc.). I recall some highly discussed cases about that. I hope those details are no longer in force, but that doesn't mean people won't claim it is the law.
     
  19. Shaggysk8

    Shaggysk8 Member

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    The only time I ever had a problem in london is when a security guard was sleeping on the job and well, me being me I could not resist and the snap of the shutter woke him up, I ran for my life...haha

    But I have not found any issue in the UK and I can be rather rude sometimes and just take what I want where I want, but I do try and see if I would offed people or not.

    So is the UK better than the US on this issue?
     
  20. Tom Nutter

    Tom Nutter Member

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    The only thing I know of is the banning of photography in the New York Subway, which I have heard is not terribly enforced. I think people were made to believe things you mentioned were in the Patriot Act, but, I don't believe it's actually true specifically. That said, nobody wants to run the risk of being accused of being a terrorist and being detained indefinitely, pending investigation.

    I think many times, even with parks services, it s a corporate fear of unrecoverable profits being made by others, and perhaps also in some cases, fear of industrial spying....just my opinion.

    I think anybody with a brain would realize someone who was REALLY trying to do one of these things would try to do it without drawing attention to themselves, but who am I to say? Corporations don't have brains, just boards...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2009
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The banning of photography in the subway has been proposed at least twice since 2001, and has failed each time. Here are some photographs from a protest of one of these failed proposals--

    http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/photo/mta/index.htm

    Photography in the New York City subways is most certainly permitted, though people should use good judgment obviously in using a tripod or flash, bearing in mind that the subway conductors and motormen are coming out of a dark tunnel and need to be able to see what's in front of them.

    Please see the NYPD internal memo regarding photography in New York City and specifically in the NYC Transit system attached to this post--

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum49/...equire-photography-permits-15.html#post800544
     
  22. Tom Nutter

    Tom Nutter Member

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    Good to know all is not lost. Thanks for the info. Maybe I can actually resume my street photography project.
     
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  23. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    I think the rangers in that park are particularly difficult. I've been accosted there twice whilst using MF on a tripod , and whilst I have eventually persuaded them that I wouldn't sell the images, it was unreasonably hard work and it is clear both that they are sceptical and persistent and that they kind of enjoy being so. As an overseas visitor who loves NYC it creates a poor impression. Its not a "bridges" issue btw; on one occasion I was taking a close up of some rusty doors at the back of the park, away from the water. And it must occur even to them that a terrorist would find it just as easy to get what they need handheld.

    The issue is complicated by the fact that they and people like them ask the wrong question. They tend to enquire whether you are a professional photographer. As it happens I am, but of course not every photograph I make will be used or is intended to be used professionally. Second because they do not understand the difference between Professional photography and Commercial photography. That means that I'm either faced with getting across a complex argument along the lines of "yes I do sell some pictures but I won't sell these ones" or I have to lie to simplify matters, which I kind of resent.

    I''ll sign your letter.
     
  24. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    i have not forgotten. i have been out of town on work for two days....now i am needing my favorite beer.

    david, i plan to mention that park and the rangers by name in my perxonal letter as i thgink they need a good clarification for sure.

    stay tuned.

    eddie
     
  25. roodpe

    roodpe Member

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    I was with eddie in Brooklyn that day and can confirm that the NYS Parks Department has equated tripod use with commercial photography. This small park is under the jurisdiction of the New York State Parks Department and not the City parks department. That may be the reason for the varied enforcement of this rule throughout nyc.

    New York City recently went through the process of defining commercial photography that requires a permit. They initially tried to equate tripod use with commercial photography (& filming) but changed their definition after outcries (mostly from amateur filmmakers). This policy can be found here:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/downloads/pdf/moftb_permit_rules_final.pdf

    I think this policy is fair and makes more sense than a ban on tripod use. It allows tripod use in most instances including on sidewalks. It is clear in scope and therefore can be easily enforced.

    I will be writing the to Parks Department, requesting they adopt the NYC policy. I agree with eddie that more letters will help the cause. I will post my letter once it is written.
     
  26. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I have had problems in the UK, too. Exactly the same sort of thing, the assumption that tripod = commercial.

    I know of a guy, not me, who rang and asked before he attended an event at a stately home if photography was permitted. He was told yes, but not commercial photography - and no tripods. He arrived with his manual SLR, but when trying to enter the security guard refused him entry because he had a 'professional camera'. I think it was something like a Nikon F3 - maybe a pro's tool 15 years ago... anyone with a plastic camera or compact was allowed in, anyone with anything large and metal was not. He had to leave his camera in the car (in the carpark with the 'take all your valuables with you' signs) and take his compact in with him instead...