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Old March 20th, 2010, 11:44 PM   #1
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Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

I had 2 hours to fill in this evening, while my 9-year-old was at a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party (the horror, the horror!).

So I sat in the carpark, trying out Scene File settings for my new AG-HMC40 that would work well for low-light shooting. Shot a few clips out the car window, and a few of the car's interior - handheld, so they are wobbly as heck:


... all this came to an adrupt halt when a policewoman suddenly knocked on the window and wanted to know "Why was I filming power pylons?!"

And in retrospect, if you look at the final clip, yes indeed there are pylons - OOPS!!!

I stayed (fairly) calm, and we both stayed polite. It didn't help that the camera is so new that I couldn't figure out how to play some of the clips back for her (mis-matching framerates, I figured out later). When I explained I was testing out a new camera, she said "Well, that's the line we are usually given". Oy vey....

After 15mins of background checks I was sent on my way. So no harm done really. But I thought I would share.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 05:04 AM   #2
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Is it illegal to shoot power lines? Sounds like the policewoman had nothing better to do either. It seems that anyone with a camera these days is seen as a potential terrorist or spy, have the law enforcement agencies not worked out that the real terrorists are actually quite smart and a real terrorist wouldn't be dumb enough to wander around waving a camera about in plain view when they could simply use google street view.

At this rate it won't be long before cameras and camcorders get banned from everywhere.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 12:38 PM   #3
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Besides, all the lazy (clever) terrorists just sit at home and use Google Earth! :-)

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Old March 21st, 2010, 05:47 PM   #4
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Which all goes to show yet again what goes for espionage, treason and social noncompliance for the humble John Cit is fine for big business when there are profits to be made and the allegiences of government members are for sale.

That's probably earned me an Echolon red flag.

Our former conservative national government (think the demeanour of Bush) reinstated sedition laws that our judiciary has severe concerns about so I should probably keep my mouth shut.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 07:06 PM   #5
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So decent footage + addition to watch list = good day as far as I'm concerned :)
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Old March 21st, 2010, 11:48 PM   #6
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Who knows ... maybe one day in the future NOT being on the list will make you an odd person.

I'm sure we'll soon discover why the UK quickly ditched its ID system (to stop those pesky foreigners) after World War II.

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Old April 22nd, 2011, 09:17 AM   #7
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

You remained polite? That's more than I would've done.
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Old April 22nd, 2011, 11:13 AM   #8
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

Given the silliness of her reasoning, I'd be asking if I was on "Candid Camera". Or at least strain my ears for the tune to the Benny Hill series.

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Old April 29th, 2011, 10:09 AM   #9
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

Pure paranoia!

A couple of years ago I was shooting near a bridge over Interstate 85 (testing a camera, to see how it handles fast moving vehicles). Soon an arrogant young policeman showed up and asked me all sorts of questions. Kept me there for about half an hour in 98F while he was on the phone with someone in his air conditioned patrol car, then he told me that several drivers called 911 with "suspected terrorism activity" (duh! what dumb terrorist would shoot video of a bridge using a large pro camcorder or a pro tripod, in plain sight, at 4PM???). He advised me to never again shoot bridges and asked me to leave.

Brings a question to my mind: would showing a copy of your business license help in this kind of situation? Make it worse?

Does anyone have an educated opinion?

Thanks,
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Old April 30th, 2011, 12:31 AM   #10
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

I'm not an attorney, and this should not be taken as legal advise, but...it most certainly is not illegal to film bridges, power lines, water towers, etc. when you are filming from a public place. Thats not to say you wont get grief from it by law enforcement, but it's not illegal. Just google "photographer’s rights" and click on the first link. Though it's called The Photographers Rights Card, it applies to video as well. Print out the PDF and carry it with you when you film in a public setting.

I've been approached by the police a number of times for filming stuff likes parks, buildings, bridges, etc. and in each instance I was asked to leave, I handed the police officer the Photographers Rights Card, and asked what law I'm breaking or what is prohibiting me from filming the shots. They almost always say something about "suspected terrorism activity". In every case, they would go back to their car and radio back to their dispatch, and after about 10-15 minutes, would come back and tell me to have a nice day. It was simply a matter of the cop acting way beyond his authority, or just not knowing the laws regarding filming in public places. Now if the cop doesn't want to look at your card, and insists that you leave...it would probably be best not to argue and comply with his request. I would certainly get his name and badge number and follow up with the proper authorities later on.

In any event...download, read, and then put that PDF in your camera bag. The information was last updated in 2006, so I had an attorney review it last year just to be sure everything still applies, and he said it was spot on.
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Old April 30th, 2011, 12:38 AM   #11
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

The real irony is that if we were truly being naughty, we could just as easily covertly film the object in question and have something good enough for ulterior planning motives. Or simply use Google Earth.

Just not the same quality as what the proper gear will give us, that's all.

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Old May 12th, 2011, 02:19 PM   #12
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

I was filming somewhat naively on the London Underground a while back and was stopped on my exit and given a pretty heavy grilling by transport police. I would normally react pretty badly to this kind of thing but realised quickly there was serious danger of them taking the tape so was as reasonable as I could muster, plus strictly speaking it is private property so I was in the wrong if innocent of the obvious implication I was some kind of 'threat'. Interestingly they said stills photography was fine but not moving images - every reason to go DSLR then!

Anyway the footage is now part of film released on DVD so I had the last laugh.

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Old May 15th, 2011, 09:46 PM   #13
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Re: Low-light tests (a cautionary tale!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Cox View Post
Interestingly they said stills photography was fine but not moving images - every reason to go DSLR then!
Don't be so sure; those guys know more than you would think! My good old still camera that happens to also take 640x480 video has been temporarily confiscated by a theater attendant because I was holding it steady... still picture were allowed but not video. So they know that photo cameras also take video!
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