When Privacy Turns to Paranoia

October 25, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

As I've stated in past blog entries, a tripod is an essential tool for my photography. A tripod helps me in the following ways:

  • It stabilizes the camera...which creates the sharpest possible image.
  • A stable camera allows for blending multiple exposures--which is essential for HDR photographs.
  • It permits longer shutter speeds for creative effects such as long exposure photography.
  • Longer shutter speeds allow for lower ISO settings...which maximizes image quality.
  • Longer shutter speeds also introduce flexibility with aperture settings (i.e., smaller apertures are available for greater depth of field).
  • A tripod helps in locking down a composition and ensuring that lines are straight.
  • A tripod allows me to use my heavy lenses more easily.

The tripod is so important to my photography that I won't bother shooting certain interiors when a tripod is prohibited.

The problem is that tripod restrictions are becoming stricter each year. Over the past year, I've been told that photography with a tripod is banned not only in certain interiors, but also when photographing exteriors. Last year, I was informed that tripods were prohibited anywhere on the Harvard campus!

During my last photography road trip to the Missions of California, I was prohibited from using my tripod in some unexpected places. While taking pictures of the Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, I was told to put my tripod away when I was caught taking pictures of the building from the sidewalk. In Las Vegas, I was told to stop shooting the City Center buildings as I was taking pictures from a walkway across Las Vegas Boulevard! Of course, the restrictions are for worse when shooting interiors.

My approach is to have everything ready to go. I set up quickly and grab a few shots before security approaches me. But, this game I play with security takes quite a bit of the fun out of photography.

Just when I thought that photography restrictions couldn't get any worse, I came across this sign in San Juan Capistrano, California. This home faces a public road. Under the current laws of the United States, photographers can still take pictures while standing on public property. Yet, this homeowner placed this sign on the front gate of his property! Apparently, photographers must stage photo shoots there. But, I have no idea why. The home didn't attract my eye at all and wasn't particularly well maintained.


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