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12/15/2011 04:14:49 PM · #1
Well, it was late Sunday. . .around 6 p.m., and I could not find a motion blur topic that appealed to me. I had been thinking and thinking, and it just wasn't happening. Finally, I figured I would try a traffic blur shot. So, I grabbed my camera gear and headed out to the Cable Bridge that spans the Columbia Here.

I wanted to sit in the large median between lanes, and thus get both sides of traffic streaming past me. Keep in mind, this is a No Drive Median. It is not protected by concrete barricateds, but I was standing very close to the concrete division. In fact, look at this picture, as I shot it from the same place I was standing to try and take my motion blur shot.

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I had been standing there shooting for just a few minutes, when suddenly I was lit up from behind. The officer was a little freaked and asked me what I was doing. I pointed at my camera/tripod (which I was now holding) and told him I was taking pictures. "WHY?" was his reply.

He asked me to get off the roadway so we could continue our discussion.

Once we were on the shoulder, he once again asked me why I was standing in the median. To which I asked if it was illegal for me to stand there. He would not respond in the negative or affirmative (as he probably did not know), but instead advised me of the safety dangers of said behavior, scanned my license, and told me to be on my way.

I still have no clue if it is illicit to stand there (and yes, I am aware of the personal risk), but if I choose to take a risk for my art, who gives a crap? Obviously, the Kennewick Police Department. I have no desire to start a brawl with the local police over a single shooting location, but come on. . .

Anyone else had brushes with the law over their photography?
12/15/2011 04:27:44 PM · #2
Sounds like a pretty innocuous encounter.
12/15/2011 04:31:26 PM · #3
Originally posted by Spork99:

Sounds like a pretty innocuous encounter.


Yeah. . .but once they have you written down for some kind of offense (at least in a small area like this), then they tend to get more and more aggressive. I just wonder if I should call the police captain, and while letting him know the officer was very polite, ask in an off the cuff way whether it is really illegal for me to do that. Because what's next, you can't stand on the shoulder of a road because it is a risk to your person. . .etc.
12/15/2011 04:41:35 PM · #4
For the Street Macro challenge in October, I was driving home from work looking for an empty parking lot that was still catching some of the low sunlight. I found a big empty one and hopped out and took several shots over and around the sewer grate. As I was packing up getting into my car I heard a short burst of the siren. A police car had quietly rolled up and the lights twirling.

Turns out you probably shouldn't pick a synagogue parking lot to be crawling around doing suspicious stuff around the sewer grate. This is especially true if in the prior week someone had spray painted red swastikas on the side of the structure. However, the officer was very nice after he found I explained what I was doing and showed him a couple of the shots.
12/15/2011 04:42:20 PM · #5
This guy made me pee my pants in fear:

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12/15/2011 04:50:05 PM · #6
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

This guy made me pee my pants in fear:

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Indeed. LOL. Raw Intimidation - 10 out of 10
12/15/2011 04:55:42 PM · #7
Just a suggestion - while you were standing there taking photos, drivers of the cars streaming past may have been distracted by your presence. Thus you may have been endangering more than your own life.
12/15/2011 04:58:11 PM · #8
Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

Just a suggestion - while you were standing there taking photos, drivers of the cars streaming past may have been distracted by your presence...


Ah, yep. Startle 'em right out of their texting reverie you will. Dangerous as all get-out.

;-)
12/15/2011 05:05:06 PM · #9
LOL. . .yeah, I agree, it might startle someone else, but still. . .sigh.

I also got brushed back for this one, so I had to unleash the zoom lens. . .and even then they were kind of agitated that I was taking pictures of them. It seems anymore that people in public don't like being people in public.

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12/15/2011 05:13:33 PM · #10
There are very strict safety standards for working in a state roadway. I am assuming the bridge is a part of the state highway system.

First of all from a personal safety standpoint, you must have a reflective safety vest and in some cases safety shoes (steel toe boots) and a hard hat. All items have to conform to the state department of transportation safety code.

Second, from a traffic standpoint, depending on the type of highway and the type and location of the work, signs and traffic control devices have to be placed according to the state department of transportation specifications. There may be laws governing the use of law officers for traffic control who may need to be present on the site at the expense of the operator.

Third, from a beaureaucratic and political perpective, there are permits and approvals to be acquired from the state department of transportation all subject to fees. This needs to be done well in advance to taking any action on the roadway. Knowing how government works, permits could take weeks to years in order to obtain.

Keep in mind the state DOT is a branch of government directly under the headship of the governor of your state who is also in charge of the state troopers who patrol the state roads.

So you did a bold but risky thing to get out in the middle of the median on a busy, state owned bridge to take such a fine looking shot. But keep in mind there are volumes of manuals written on the correct and proper procedures one must take in order to occupy a state right-of-way.

Message edited by author 2011-12-15 17:15:50.
12/15/2011 05:16:40 PM · #11
Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

Just a suggestion - while you were standing there taking photos, drivers of the cars streaming past may have been distracted by your presence...


Ah, yep. Startle 'em right out of their texting reverie you will. Dangerous as all get-out.

;-)

ok my cousin is a state cop and he told me the best reason he's been given for texting while driving was because if i call them i won't be able to hear my music.
12/15/2011 05:33:35 PM · #12
Originally posted by EL-ROI:

There are very strict safety standards for working in a state roadway. I am assuming the bridge is a part of the state highway system.

First of all from a personal safety standpoint, you must have a reflective safety vest and in some cases safety shoes (steel toe boots) and a hard hat. All items have to conform to the state department of transportation safety code.

Second, from a traffic standpoint, depending on the type of highway and the type and location of the work, signs and traffic control devices have to be placed according to the state department of transportation specifications. There may be laws governing the use of law officers for traffic control who may need to be present on the site at the expense of the operator.

Third, from a beaureaucratic and political perpective, there are permits and approvals to be acquired from the state department of transportation all subject to fees. This needs to be done well in advance to taking any action on the roadway. Knowing how government works, permits could take weeks to years in order to obtain.

Keep in mind the state DOT is a branch of government directly under the headship of the governor of your state who is also in charge of the state troopers who patrol the state roads.

So you did a bold but risky thing to get out in the middle of the median on a busy, state owned bridge to take such a fine looking shot. But keep in mind there are volumes of manuals written on the correct and proper procedures one must take in order to occupy a state right-of-way.


Your response has just made my life 38% less fun.
12/17/2011 11:39:47 AM · #13
Cops patrol.
One of the main things they do when patrolling - look for anything unusual.
What you were doing would certainly qualify as unusual.

He probably just finished taking a 4 hour seminar on how to spot terrorism.
One of the first things they try to spot is drawing, notetaking or photography of things like trains and bridges or symbollic targets.
(Not sure how that works in DC where everything is constantly photographed.)

I am thinking that a terrorist would not set up sticks and stand out like you did. They'd try to lay low a bit and not draw suspicion.

I am hoping he was cool after he got your explanation.

We live in a world where 99% of people we encounter are basically good and not all that dangerous. Cops live in a much more dangerous world. I usually try to cut them some slack. Their world view is very different than mine.
12/17/2011 01:41:24 PM · #14
Originally posted by crowis:

Originally posted by Spork99:

Sounds like a pretty innocuous encounter.


Yeah. . .but once they have you written down for some kind of offense (at least in a small area like this), then they tend to get more and more aggressive. I just wonder if I should call the police captain, and while letting him know the officer was very polite, ask in an off the cuff way whether it is really illegal for me to do that. Because what's next, you can't stand on the shoulder of a road because it is a risk to your person. . .etc.


What offense? You weren't cited or arrested.
12/17/2011 01:46:07 PM · #15
Originally posted by EL-ROI:

There are very strict safety standards for working in a state roadway. I am assuming the bridge is a part of the state highway system.

First of all from a personal safety standpoint, you must have a reflective safety vest and in some cases safety shoes (steel toe boots) and a hard hat. All items have to conform to the state department of transportation safety code.

Second, from a traffic standpoint, depending on the type of highway and the type and location of the work, signs and traffic control devices have to be placed according to the state department of transportation specifications. There may be laws governing the use of law officers for traffic control who may need to be present on the site at the expense of the operator.

Third, from a beaureaucratic and political perpective, there are permits and approvals to be acquired from the state department of transportation all subject to fees. This needs to be done well in advance to taking any action on the roadway. Knowing how government works, permits could take weeks to years in order to obtain.

Keep in mind the state DOT is a branch of government directly under the headship of the governor of your state who is also in charge of the state troopers who patrol the state roads.

So you did a bold but risky thing to get out in the middle of the median on a busy, state owned bridge to take such a fine looking shot. But keep in mind there are volumes of manuals written on the correct and proper procedures one must take in order to occupy a state right-of-way.


Agree with all the above. I am all for freedom and our right to take photographs, provided we do not violate the rights of others, particularly their rights to safety. In this case, it is obvious that that median was not designed for pedestrian walking. Had you caused an accident by dropping some of your stuff onto the road, distracting drivers or falling you would have endangered not just your life but also that of others, perhaps even many others. Any legal work in that median would probably require warning signs and barricades for a few hundred feet in both directions from the point of work. You should be free to have fun by risking your life any time you wish, but without endangering others. You got a very nice shot, but do you really think it was worth the risk?
12/17/2011 02:09:48 PM · #16
Was looking for a good image for the Science challenge, had to go to the children's hospital yesterday, of course had my camera, the lobby was full of beautiful Christmas trees, around one tree was a team of drs, all dressed in scrub gear for surgery. WOW what a shot, one even had a stethoscope dangling from his hand. The other and X-ray envelope. Perfection....not so much, was approached by a security guard and asked to put my camera away. No explaination, just stern. No children were present, doctor's backs were to the camera, so recognition of faces. But seems that is a biggy now. Sure was sad to lose that shot. :(

Message edited by author 2011-12-17 16:00:00.
12/17/2011 03:45:18 PM · #17
Originally posted by brucedgates:

I am thinking that a terrorist would not set up sticks and stand out like you did. They'd try to lay low a bit and not draw suspicion.

No they would do what anyone with brains would do..... get the blue prints or become or hire a structural engineer that can spot weak points from a simple walk around or drive by..... If I follow your assumption they would just be looking for weak points enough to bring down a bridge. Minimal training from whatever google found would prob be enough to guess the most likely spots (or common sense in a lot of cases).

But it's part of the security theater we all seem to accept... now I know the airports are the broadway and where the action is but these local hacks are off (off off) broadway and I guess they need a training ground.
12/17/2011 10:42:12 PM · #18
Originally posted by robs:


No they would do what anyone with brains would do..... get the blue prints or become or hire a structural engineer that can spot weak points from a simple walk around or drive by..... If I follow your assumption they would just be looking for weak points enough to bring down a bridge. Minimal training from whatever google found would prob be enough to guess the most likely spots (or common sense in a lot of cases).



those weak spots are generally well protected and have been since 9/11 on all major structures. not to say you cant take one down, but you aren't doing it from someplace easily accessible. the best bet would be to compromise a pier, but that's easier said than done. you would need to set the explosives inside the concrete to do any "real" damage and that takes time. lots of time.

12/17/2011 11:09:57 PM · #19
Originally posted by mike_311:

those weak spots are generally well protected and have been since 9/11 on all major structures. not to say you cant take one down, but you aren't doing it from someplace easily accessible. the best bet would be to compromise a pier, but that's easier said than done. you would need to set the explosives inside the concrete to do any "real" damage and that takes time. lots of time.

I think that's more PR then reality...I have never seen anyone "guarding" structures around here.... A while back a truck hit a support beam of a major bridge from the roadway with all the railings and what not but they had to close the bridge and all this hand wringing about if they could fix it or it would be a major repair to the structure that would take weeks.....

My main point is you don't need detailed pictures... especially a duck/night because they are useless and there are far better ways even if you buy into the paranoia. Time for them to do something more useful... overdue parking tickets to followup on or something.
12/18/2011 09:33:11 AM · #20
Protected meaning structurally, quite a few retrofits have been done, especially on suspension bridges.

The police are doing something useful. Just because they are hassling someone for being somewhere they shouldn't isn't a reason to complain about them.

IMO, the op was in a spot they shouldn't have been, and the police did there job. They didnt make them delete their pictures or confiscate the equipment or harass them, they simply said you can't be here, move along.
12/18/2011 10:35:06 AM · #21
Originally posted by mike_311:

Protected meaning structurally, quite a few retrofits have been done, especially on suspension bridges.

The police are doing something useful. Just because they are hassling someone for being somewhere they shouldn't isn't a reason to complain about them.

IMO, the op was in a spot they shouldn't have been, and the police did there job. They didnt make them delete their pictures or confiscate the equipment or harass them, they simply said you can't be here, move along.


That pretty much says what I was thinking.

I had a county cop stop and ask me what I was doing while shooting from a local draw bridge. I think he was just curious, more than suspicious. I was using the stop light post to steady the camera while shooting over town, to get a tele shot of Venus setting through the treetops. Maybe the tele lens got his curiosity up. Other than that, no problems here. He seemed to be ok with me when I told him that I play drums with his boss, the sheriff, for local events and our own entertainment. He just said to be careful of the traffic, and was on his way. It's possible that the bridge tender called for them to see what I was doing, since I was close to the machinery for the traffic gate arm.

When I stop on the roadside to shoot, it was not uncommon for people that know me to stop and see if I needed anything. I have told just about everyone that I know, that if they see me stopped by the road, that I will be shooting pix, and if the hood is up, I'm shooting pix of the motor, and to just wave as they go by.
12/18/2011 10:37:17 AM · #22
Sunday, 6.00 pm, photographer ARTIST smeared across Columbia bridge in a brave attempt to snap a shot from the middle of the bridge. There were no other casualties, just a couple of drivers treated for shock after the accident, and a certain amount of vehicle damage due to collisions, etc. Both carriageways were reopened at around 8.30.

Actually, that didn't happen because an officer decided he could do without all that at the end of his weekend and moved the photographer on.
12/18/2011 11:00:46 AM · #23
Originally posted by robs:

.
My main point is you don't need detailed pictures... especially a duck/night because they are useless and there are far better ways even if you buy into the paranoia. Time for them to do something more useful... overdue parking tickets to followup on or something.


Was the latter part of that comment really necessary.

Sometimes when you have nothing to do, do give me a call or send me a PM and I would love to take the time to explain to you some of the "mundane" aspects of security you seem to allude to.

Working in the realm of security is one of those "Damned if you do and damned if you don't" environment. The mere fact that we have not experienced another 911 scenario is not to be confused with there no longer being any threats.

Have a great day and a very Merry Christmas

Ray
12/18/2011 09:13:07 PM · #24
For the record, I never said I belonged in the roadway. I was merely questioning it's legality. And when it comes to the risk, only an idiot would assume standing where I was standing was a risk free endeavor. However, when I want a shot, I want a shot, and if I want to put myself at personal risk, then that is my choice. There are many shots on this site, and others, where the photographer has put themselves in great risk to capture the moment they wanted. I was nice to the officer, did not give him any "grief" over the incident and left. I just found it funny that setting up a camera in a median (a pretty wide one where I was standing) was considered so hazardous that the police felt they had to put a stop to it.
12/18/2011 09:30:38 PM · #25
Originally posted by crowis:

For the record, I never said I belonged in the roadway. I was merely questioning it's legality. ...

If it is a divided highway/freeway then it is likely that the vehicle code prohibits pedestrians and/or parking at any time except in an emergency. I'm pretty sure in California it is illegal to be in the median except in an emergency.

Originally posted by crowis:

... I was nice to the officer, did not give him any "grief" over the incident and left. I just found it funny that setting up a camera in a median (a pretty wide one where I was standing) was considered so hazardous that the police felt they had to put a stop to it.

This is what I'm finding the most interesting in this, thread ... the number of "incidents" where the police/security officer makes a reasonable and polite inquiry, and the situation is quickly and amicably resolved -- quite a refreshing change from the usual stories ...
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