Ominous title, yes? You can relax, though; nothing illegal was done here. But under other circumstances, could it have been?
Allow me to explain. This shot was taken with a very high-powered Sigma zoom that resembles a telescope. I was standing on a bridge, looking at a dam in the distance. The dam and its accompanying facilities are owned by a local town, and the entire land was marked no trespassing for fear people would be injured. So to get the shot, I had to stand on a nearby bridge. Mind you, I’ve actually been confronted for using that huge lens. People honestly thought I was spying on someone!
Some of my students have asked me, “When am I allowed to take pictures?” It’s a fair question. In this post-9/11 “occupy movement” world, everyone’s so afraid of being labeled a terrorist for pursuing their passion for photography. So what is the truth?
First let me give you a link: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm
At the above site, you can download a handy piece to print and put in your pocket, just in case. But the short version is this:
1. If you are standing on public property, you CAN take pictures.
2. If you are standing on private property, ask permission. Their place, their rules.
3. Law enforcement can’t take away your camera or erase your data without a warrant.
4. Private individuals can’t detain you or harass you without serious legal consequences.
5. Some sensitive government buildings can forbid you to take pictures if it’s a matter of national security, and law enforcement can stop you photographing if you are close enough to potentially interfere with their duties (but you are allowed to take pictures if you’re not interfering).
6. You must respect people’s privacy when they’ve secluded themselves, even if it’s on public property.
Those are the details. If you are confronted, always remember to be respectful and polite, especially if you want to be a professional photographer. And don’t be afraid to take those pictures!
Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/22, 32″