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Old December 10th, 2015, 10:31 AM   #1
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USA National Parks in autumn

Isn't it great when a hobby can also be a profession and pay for a vacation? I shot this 4K and HD slow-motion (240 fps) stock footage at various national parks and wildlife refuges during September and October of 2015.

Yellowstone National Park: 00:10
Grand Teton National Park: 03:45
Great Salt Lake: 5:45
Golden Spike: 6:02
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: 6:23
Bryce Canyon National Park: 8:35
Glacier National Park: 10:06
Waterton Lakes National Park: 11:10
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge: 11:37
Theodore Roosevelt National Park: 12:45

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Lenses: Canon 200-400mm zoom; Zeiss 15.5-45mm zoom
Codecs: 4K RAW, 2K RAW, 4K XAVC
Grading: DaVinci Resolve

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Old December 11th, 2015, 07:15 AM   #2
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Beautiful footage Doug. Question: Did the NPS issue a commercial permit that covers all the parks or did you have to apply for a permit for each one individually?
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Old December 11th, 2015, 08:25 AM   #3
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Permits? I don't need no stinking permits! :-)
If you're just one person with a camera and tripod no permit is necessary on federal lands.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 08:45 AM   #4
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Interesting. I was going by this:

1. National Wildlife Refuge System Commercial Activities Special Use Application (FWS Form 3-1383-C) http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-1383-C.pdf for:

Commercial activities such as guiding hunters, anglers or other outdoor users
Commercial filming (audio, video, and photographic products of a monetary value)

... That last one I've seen stated as including stock footage. I'm heading out to Bosque del Apache in January & will see what they have to say. The reason I was asking was the standard form has an entry field for the park or refuge so looks like you would have to apply for a separate permit for each one, pretty much a PITA on a trip like you took.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 09:04 AM   #5
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

There's a lot of misunderstanding of the rules-- even by the park service and it depends on who you talk to and what paperwork you read. Lots of conflicting info out there. Notice that even this page says a permit is needed for stock. Film, Photography and Sound Recording Permits - Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

But believe me, nobody is going to care or even ask you what you are doing. I talk to rangers all the time when I am out shooting and I have never once gotten a permit or been hassled. And if they do ask about a permit (happened once or twice), just act like you know what you are talking about and tell them that "no permit is needed for a single camera and tripod". They won't know if you are right or not, but being confident carries a lot of weight! BTW, this works with many places you may shoot. Tell them you are no different than a tourist. Also, tell them you are on vacation. They will back off. Nobody really cares unless you are making a big deal out of your "production" and causing a problem.

I don't care whether a permit is technically required or not because my attitude is still the same, "I don't need no sinking permit." The worst you'll ever get from a ranger is be told to stop, and in all my years even that has never happened once. Getting kicked off of private property is a whole different matter, but federal lands, where anyone is permitted to walk or take photos, are always okay to shoot.
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Old December 11th, 2015, 10:02 AM   #6
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Doug, great footage. Lengthy permit discussion here if anyone is interested. National Park filming legislation
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Old December 11th, 2015, 11:08 AM   #7
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Mark, thank you for the compliment I have enjoyed your footage as well.
Yeah, that is a lengthy discussion and it makes my head hurt to even look at it. Fortunately, it doesn't matter to me because the bottom line is that I still don't need no stinking permits. :-)
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Old December 12th, 2015, 08:13 AM   #8
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Yeah, you do need permits. You just haven't been busted yet.

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Old December 12th, 2015, 12:02 PM   #9
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

There is just so much wrong with this type of harassment by the government.
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Old December 12th, 2015, 12:20 PM   #10
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Totally agree!
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Old December 12th, 2015, 12:32 PM   #11
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Yes I agree too. By making her department's funding a product of the fees collected she has a motivation to find commercial usage wherever she looks.
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Old December 12th, 2015, 04:01 PM   #12
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Doug's just been lucky so far.

Yellowstone is gunning for photographers and filmmakers.

I've had a geyser watcher call in a ranger when I was filming once. Had another friend accosted by someone with a range finder saying he was three feet too close to an animal.

Here's an article on workshop permits that talks about rangers Googling workshops looking and waiting for workshops to come into parks so they can check if they have the proper permit.
National Park Photography Workshop Permits: Are They Really Necessary?

Ignorance of the law isn't an excuse. If it was, everyone that said I didn't realize the speed limit was xx would never get a ticket.

And of course now that Doug has said he don't need no stinking permit, a quick Google search from the Yellowstone film permit office would turn up this thread.

I would love to see someone that had the funding to fight get busted because I believe that as long as you're doing what the public is allowed to do, you shouldn't need a permit.

Photographers were smart and were organized so that they were exempt from the permit law but there's really no organized group of nature and wildlife filmmakers that could lobby for an exemption.

So, until someone gets busted, fights the charges and wins, it'll only get worse.
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Old December 12th, 2015, 07:08 PM   #13
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

It is a shame that nature videographers are such a small group. It takes an organization to fight this type of government abuse. One guy at a time just can't accomplish anything.
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Old December 12th, 2015, 07:54 PM   #14
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Railsback View Post
Yeah, you do need permits. You just haven't been busted yet.
The video posted above is interesting, but he takes the completely wrong argument in defending himself. He lets the discussion become all about whether he is selling his footage or not. That is not the point. The argument to make is that video is no different than still photography. Period. If a still photographer can legally be there doing whatever he is doing, then so can a video shooter. The NPS can make all the rules they want but that doesn't mean they will hold up in a court of law when challenged.

Can anyone cite a court case where a video shooter fought against the park service and LOST? I would love to see that case. Until then, it is just a bunch of bureaucrats making dumb rules for dumb reasons.
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Old December 12th, 2015, 08:09 PM   #15
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Re: USA National Parks in autumn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Railsback View Post
Doug's just been lucky so far.
Luck has nothing to do with. I simply know how to deflect the rangers and make them back down and go away when they choose to approach me. Same thing with police on a public street or anywhere else the general public is allowed to stand and shoot photos or video. In fact, I was approached as recently as this fall in Yellowstone by a ranger who was already supervising a permitted crew with talent, props, etc. If anybody should have known if I was breaking rules or not it should have, been him, yet he backed off within a couple of minutes and left me alone. The only reason he even approached me is because the other crew didn't want me there otherwise we never would have even talked. Once I got the ranger to acknowledge that I had a right to be there, I gave it a couple of more minutes to stand my ground, and then I quietly left out out professional courtesy to the other crew -- even though they didn't deserve it for not talking to me directly

I am well aware of when I really need a permit -- and I actually have gotten permits for when I had crew and needed special access. But there is no way in hell I will ever get a permit when it is just me and a tripod and I'm standing next to a photographer who supposedly does not need a permit for shooting the same thing and taking up the same space.

But I hope I don't give the impression that I have confrontations with rangers or don't like them. I love the park rangers and they have been nothing but courteous to me and helpful to me. Not once have I ever had an actual argument with a ranger. I've even had a couple look through the camera and try following focus. Fun! But if they ask you if you have a permit you need to be prepared to respond strongly and confidently. And the argument has nothing do with commercial vs. private because that is a dead end and you will probably lose that argument.

Someday if one of them wants to ticket me for shooting or take me away in cuffs, I will gladly be that person who gets the policies changed for everyone else. I'll be the Rosa Parks of National Parks videography!
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