Shooting in unsafe environments...

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by rmh159, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    There's a nuclear plant near-ish to where I live that I've always wanted to get a nite shot of since I realized it existed. Now I know there are security issues with taking pics of a nuclear plant but I found that there's a running / biking trail that gets close enough to the plant to get a good shot of. The issue? It's over a mile hike to get to the spot on the trail and the hike goes through a forrest and brings you out on a bridge that's about 300 feet over a river. There's also a well traveled highway right behind the bridge (completely out of frame but about 10 feet behind the shooting position).

    So my issues are... the hike to the scene and the fact that if I was confronted... I'd literally have no where to go and no matter how you slice it... someone taking a photo of a nuclear plant at nite would probably raise a few eyebrows. Being that the highway is there, I would definitely be spotted and if someone was to call the cops there would be no way to get out of dodge fast enough without questions.

    That said... the scene is BEGGING for a photo. The plant is on top of a wooded hill, there's a slow moving river below it that would reflect well at nite, there's a ton of steam rising into the air and the path gets close enough so the plant would fill the frame.

    So what would you do? Take the risks for a shot you know would be good knowing you could have a run-in with cops? Any similar stories?
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Being a public place (in the US), I would think that you have every right to take whatever photo you like. However...having the right to do so...won't stop a lot of people and most authorities from doing their best to stop you. On the other hand, there may be some certain sites that are legitimately illegal to photograph.

    I would ask permission first. Call the facility (maybe offer then a print)...and/or call the local police. Get something in writing before you hike up there. That way you will have something to show anyone who thinks you're up to no good.
     
  3. First off, don't be lazy :wink:. Go hike it. You have to work for your best shots. It's worth it, and you will feel a whole different sense of pride. This one is one of my favorites, and took two days of hiking and camping. I have a large print of it on my wall.

    Then go dressed conspiciously - meaning wear loud colors, and fun hat, etc. Don't go dressed like a criminal with a black balaclaca or one of those cartoonish safe cracker hats.

    Then have all your ID ready, and maybe a print-out of your website. Also, print up some sort of business cards on simple card stock paper with your name, address, etc and let it say "Photo Artist - Urban Landscapes" or something like that. Include your URL, or other relevant info.

    Finally, if someone ACTUALLY comes up to you and gives you grief, just move on. No point in explaining civil liberties to an adult getting paid minimum wage - typical perimeter security people are not the brightest, nor permitted to make autonomous decisions. If it is really that far to hike, I doubt anyone is coming, unless they can fit the small company pick-up or golf-kart along the trail.


    Have fun, I'm jealous you'vefound such a cool location. I love large industrial installations at night - the lights are usually very cool.
     
  4. One more thing: I disagree with Big Mike in this case. I think asking permission will just end up with a "no." There is no way they're going to say "yes" unless you are accredited and working on a specific project, and even then they will probably say "no." You have no evil intent (I hope and assume) and you are taking a shot from a public location. Most people will just say "no" rather than exert the effort to find out if it is allowed. They don't want to appear stupid or weak to the boss, or are just plain lazy.

    Sorry to be so cynical, but my experiences are not great in this area.
     
  5. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the feedback!

    My concerns with the hike isn't so much the laziness factor (although that is always present) it's that I'll be about 1 mile or 2 away from my car and if I run into someone who wants to steal the camera... I'm not left with many options or a way to quickly get out of the place.

    The good part though is that I'd be far enough away to avoid any type of security. The location is seperated by a forest and a river so... not worried there. Any trouble with the "fuzz" would most likely be caused by someone driving by and calling. I think I might just pick a morning and get up around 3am to drive over and get a few shots. Hopefully that'd be late enough to avoid any kids that might be hanging out and early enough to avoid a lot of traffic or joggers. Who knows. I should only need a few minutes to throw out a tripod and get some shots.

    I agree though... the challenge is what makes it so attractive.
     
  6. Ab$olut

    Ab$olut TPF Noob!

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    I wouldn't worry about someone stealing your camera sounds like this hike aint exacly in 'the ghetto' i have been to a few unsafe sites to take photos it comes with urban exploration and I haven't seen a hobo or drug addict yet like everyone that doesn't urbex thinks... :lol:
     
  7. dsp921

    dsp921 TPF Noob!

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    It is possible that photographing the facility is prohibited. The US Department of Energy can prohibit photography of nuclear facilities. Areas visible to the public aren't usually off-limits, but understand that it is possible that taking pictures of the plant is not allowed. Also, just in case, if someone does confront you, they have no right to your camera or card/film without a court order. Should be a nice little adventure, though. Don't forget to post the pics...
     
  8. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    Just wear a ghille suit so that nobody sees you. lol
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Since I had nothing to hide, i would call plant security and explain what I wanted to do. It is a public view, all you want to do is have the cops know that you aren't a bad guy so give them a heads up at the plant in case they get a call from the cops.


    You aren't asking permission, you are just letting them know you are legit... Can't help you with the hike though.
     
  10. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    and in fact nuclear facilities are one of the super big "NO NO's" for photographers. After seeing POP Photo's "War on Photographers" writeup I did just a little bit of search but I am just about 100% sure that nuclear facilities are off limits. One of the very few things that are actually against the law to photograph.

    Full Article: http://www.popphoto.com/popularphotographyfeatures/2668/the-war-on-photographers.html

    Quote above taken from the last paragraph on page 3.

    This is Krages personal site for advice and as a means to purchase his books (including "Legal Handbook for Photographers") as well as the PDF format of "the photographers rights"
    http://www.krages.com/
     
  11. EBphotography

    EBphotography TPF Junkie!

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    Aren't the rules for nuclear plants similar to military bases since they are a target for terrorists? I believe in the photographers rights it says the plant manager may ban photography of the facility, so I would call ahead and see what policies have been put in place for this facility.
     
  12. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    exactly. IMO the best and only way to photograph a nuclear facility would be to get written permission from the plant director. If you somehow manage to get that I'd let the cops know when you plan on going out to take the photo's because if a cop rolls up with you snapping shots of a nuclear reactor, you're gonna be in trouble.

    It's a shame because the univerally acknowledged cooling towers are so cool looking.
     

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