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  1. #1
    Ctn
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    Street photography

    Not sure if this is the right spot for this topic but i have something i need to ask you.

    How do you guys handle street photography and in specific photographing other people. I experience a huge hesitation when i want to photograph persons in the streets i dont know.
    This is partially due to the fact i have the feeling some people will just smack you in the face and smash your camera and partially the idea intruding in someone's life.

    Street photography is really something i want to get into, but this largely keeping me away from it.
    How do you guys cope with this? Are you experiencing the same?

  2. #2
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    First thing to do is get things straight in your head. Why do you want to do pictures in the street? Why do you want to do pictures of this particular person? You'd better have your project pretty clear because sometimes you're going to have to explain it to people (your subject for instance).

    This is what I wrote a couple of years ago. Things haven't changed very much, except that parents have got even more paranoid about children (at least in France)

    Street photography

    First the legal aspect. France has the clearest, strictest law and lots of jurisprudence examples. What I am about to write doesn't necessarily apply where you are but keep it in mind.

    1. Private property is like hallowed ground. You do not have the right to take pictures of someone who is on private ground without getting permission, both from the person and from the owner of the property, even if you are on public ground. Private ground includes anywhere there are rules and regulations, like "public" parks, "public" transport, "public" buildings, shopping malls, etc. OK so that still leaves you the street

    2. Out in the street, a person is exposed to the regard of others and is not really owner of their image. So you can take pictures of people as long as you aren't a nuisance and create a breach of the peace.

    3. The problem is publishing the image, whether in a book, magazine, competition or on Internet. The person might claim you are slandering them. Or you may be bringing information to a third party who was not present thereby causing damage to your subject (the married couple kissing one another who turn out to be married but not to one another - ouch).

    4. Inevitably people appear in photos of general scenes (try to do a picture of the Eiffel Tower with no people visible). This is acceptable as long as the person is not individualised and picked out

    5. Long tele lenses (greater than 200mm in film terms) are out. This is being a peeping tom, intrusion of privacy

    6. Anything commercial, where you make money out of the person's image - get a model release

    7. There are exceptions. A press photographer has the duty to inform the public. Grandma doing photos of the kiddies in a restaurant is part of a group where it is tacitly accepted that photos can be taken within the group (but not details of the interior of the restaurant)

    OK so how do I do it?

    a) I tend to do photos in the street at events where people accept to have their photos taken. Example = Chinese New Year. People are there to be seen. But only the participants, not the spectators

    b) I adapt my gear to the situation. If what I'm doing is a bit doubtful (political demonstrations) I use a small camera and lens and try not to stand out too much

    c). I am always open. I never hide. My shooting distance is from 5 to 10 feet, with the camera visible. I don't necessarily say anything, I just show interest. If the person turns their back or shies away, I give up. Otherwise I visibly take hold of the camera and do the shot fairly quickly. Afterwards I say thank you and move slowly on (if you turn your back and run off in shame that makes people suspicious)

    d) I am always ready to talk to people. I have a clear idea of my project in mind, and I can always explain to people why I wanted the picture. I usually have a stock of business cards handy so people can pick up their picture on a web site if they want

    e) I rarely publish in any form. I always ask myself if the person would probably agree to what I want to do, if they seemed to be willing to pose, etc

    f) Some subjects are completely taboo. Nowadays I never do pictures of children, people have got paranoid about it. Nor do I do picture of people who are openly agressive or who I suspect will ask me for money. Officials, the police, anything remotely concerning national security where I could be taken for a terrorist or a criminal preparing a crime
    Charles

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  3. #3
    Ctn
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    Re: Street photography

    Thanks for that very helpful and complete answer franglais. Thats definately something i can work with.
    Bottom line is think about what you are doing and dont make a secret of what you are trying to do.

  4. #4
    banished Don Schaeffer's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Street photography is in fact a dangerous thing. You have to be brave.

  5. #5
    Liz
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Ctn View Post
    Thanks for that very helpful and complete answer franglais. Thats definately something i can work with.
    Bottom line is think about what you are doing and dont make a secret of what you are trying to do.
    Street Photography is my favorite - what I do most of the time. I used to be quite afraid of focusing on people on the streets. However, since it is what I love doing, I had to overcome the fear, although I am still cautious and have learned some do's and don'ts over the years. I'll just share a bit from my personal experience.

    What I've found is that since I switched from my Canon dslr's to the M4/3 system, I am a bit more "brave" since my smaller camera is not as threatening to people - so this helps!

    One time I saw a gentleman in Bryan Park in NYC with a rather strange costume on. He had a white wedding veil and a big crown on his head and was dipping his feet into the pool. I asked if I could take his picture and he hesitated. I then told him that I would give him a couple of dollars (he was asking people for money). He looked at me, then at my dslr - and said "by the looks of that camera you could give me $20!" I took his picture and gave him $5. But my hands were shaking by that time and I did not get a good shot!

    It is much easier to do street photography in larger cities or other places where there are lots of people - and lots of cameras. In NY not many people pay attention to photographers unless you have a huge camera pointed right at them. NYC is my favorite place to go. Parades, marches, parties, whatever are also fun places are non-threatening. The best thing is to learn to relax (easier said than done).

    Sometimes I will see something interesting I want to shoot in an area where I am obviously focusing on a specific situation, so I ask the person(s) if I can take their picture. I've never had anyone say no. Obviously in every situation, you need to think it through before asking if you can focus on children. I have done this, but only when there is a good reason, and when I am sure there is a parent or guardian that I am asking.

    It took a long time for me to act like I was supposed to be out there shooting people with my camera, but it does get easier. Don't give it up - just go out there and do it! It gets easier!

    Here are a few of my street shots. This is a small series I did in an interesting scene in NY. The policeman was directing pedestrian traffic away from a street that was closed to pedestrians because there was a parade. It was a bit easy to shoot these (even though I was focusing on a cop because of the parade that day). Normally I would not go up to a cop and just shoot without asking. I don't always get the best IQ or composition in street photography - but I always have fun. These aren't great shots - but lots of fun.

    I've added the conversation between the cop and the pedestrian as best as I recall. Everyone was giving him a challenge! The best was the elderly lady!

    No Miss, you can't walk up this street - it is closed to people



    Read my lips! As I said, the street is closed to pedestrians!



    I am sorry, M'am, but this street is closed today.



    Look Sonny! I am old enough to be your Grandmother. I can take care of myself!



    Good luck! And enjoy! Street photography is a lot of fun.

  6. #6
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Just remember it's what you do with the photos. If you publish the photo you need the model releases, and location releases unless it's news. And even then you can be in legal hot water
    GRF

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  7. #7
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by freygr View Post
    Just remember it's what you do with the photos. If you publish the photo you need the model releases, and location releases unless it's news. And even then you can be in legal hot water
    Publishing includes the Internet, and this site.

    It's very frustrating. I made a great trip to Poland earlier this month (recommend Krakow in particular but it's not for the faint-hearted - what the Nazis did was disgusting). I would love to share them here but 90% of the best images were on private property and are "touchy".
    Charles

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  8. #8
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais View Post
    Publishing includes the Internet, and this site.

    It's very frustrating. I made a great trip to Poland earlier this month (recommend Krakow in particular but it's not for the faint-hearted - what the Nazis did was disgusting). I would love to share them here but 90% of the best images were on private property and are "touchy".
    You should note that your definitions of both 'private property' and 'publish' in this context are regional (and perhaps personal) and are not true everywhere - both legally and culturally. - Terry
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  9. #9
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by OldClicker View Post
    You should note that your definitions of both 'private property' and 'publish' in this context are regional (and perhaps personal) and are not true everywhere - both legally and culturally. - Terry
    Do you have any examples? I've been following this subject for years in the French context. I sometimes carry around with me a copy of the applicable law, in case I have to convince people that I'm within my rights in doing photos in a particular place of a particular subject. I don't think I'm putting a personal interpretation on it but I'm not an expert.

    Here is my rather rough translation of French Penal Code:

    Article 226-1

    "One year imprisonment and 45000 Euros fine for infringing on the private life of another person by any means:

    1. Recording or transmitting without the consent of the author words spoken privately or confidentially
    2. Recording or transmitting, without the consent of a person the image of the person in a private place

    When the acts previously mentioned were done visibly and with the persons being recorded being aware of the recording, and the persons did not oppose the recording while they had the possibility to do so, then the consentment of the persons is assumed."

    Article 226-2

    "Punished by the same amount the act of keeping, carrying or bringing to the knowledge of the public or to a third person or to use by any means whatsoever the recordings or documents obtained by one of the acts mentioned in 226-1.

    When the crime committed by the previous article is carried out by the press (written or audiovisual) the specific laws governing these activities are appliucable to determine the responsible persons."

    Article 226-6

    "In the case of 226-1 and 226-2 public action can only be carried out after complaint by the victim or his legal representative"
    Last edited by Franglais; 01-27-2012 at 06:34 PM. Reason: Include text of the law
    Charles

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  10. #10
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Well this guy never stopped at nothing.
    Ron Galella, King of the Paparazzi - Photo Essays - TIME
    The police informed me that I can go on private property if I like as long as there are no no trespassing signs and even then I have to be given the opportunity to leave before I am arrested, but I would never just walk into someones property without asking first.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

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  11. #11
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais View Post
    Do you have any examples? I've been following this subject for years in the French context. I sometimes carry around with me a copy of the applicable law, in case I have to convince people that I'm within my rights in doing photos in a particular place of a particular subject. I don't think I'm putting a personal interpretation on it but I'm not an expert.

    Here is my rather rough translation of French Penal Code:

    Article 226-1

    "One year imprisonment and 45000 Euros fine for infringing on the private life of another person by any means:

    1. Recording or transmitting without the consent of the author words spoken privately or confidentially
    2. Recording or transmitting, without the consent of a person the image of the person in a private place

    When the acts previously mentioned were done visibly and with the persons being recorded being aware of the recording, and the persons did not oppose the recording while they had the possibility to do so, then the consentment of the persons is assumed."

    Article 226-2

    "Punished by the same amount the act of keeping, carrying or bringing to the knowledge of the public or to a third person or to use by any means whatsoever the recordings or documents obtained by one of the acts mentioned in 226-1.

    When the crime committed by the previous article is carried out by the press (written or audiovisual) the specific laws governing these activities are appliucable to determine the responsible persons."

    Article 226-6

    "In the case of 226-1 and 226-2 public action can only be carried out after complaint by the victim or his legal representative"
    The example I can give is here - near Chicago.

    For your terms I questioned in this context:
    - 'private property' is that owned by a private party; not public parks, gov't buildings, etc.
    - 'published' is commercial use.

    I can capture anybody that has no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. inside a personal residence, in a public bathroom, etc.) as long as I am not someplace where photography is designated as restricted (these restrictions have nothing to do with privacy and it doesn't matter where the subject is). If it is restricted, it must be evident such as being posted or being informed by security. In order of increasing likelihood - public streets, sidewalks, parks, monuments, gov't buildings, etc. may have restrictions (mostly just commercial restrictions). For private property it is up to the owner.

    I do not need a model or property release unless the image is to be used for commercial purposes. Things like posting on a forum or FaceBook, club competitions, editorial use and the portfolio of a pro photographer do not require any releases.

    This does not mean that I am crazy enough to go everywhere and shoot everyone, but the trouble wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) be legal. But an irate soccer mom who thinks she is defending her cub can be a force that needs to be feared.

    Also, this is the US - the possibility of a lawsuit for anything always exists if a lawyer thinks he can make a $.

    Terry
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  12. #12
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais View Post
    Do you have any examples? I've been following this subject for years in the French context. I sometimes carry around with me a copy of the applicable law, in case I have to convince people that I'm within my rights in doing photos in a particular place of a particular subject. I don't think I'm putting a personal interpretation on it but I'm not an expert.

    Here is my rather rough translation of French Penal Code:

    Article 226-1

    "One year imprisonment and 45000 Euros fine for infringing on the private life of another person by any means:

    1. Recording or transmitting without the consent of the author words spoken privately or confidentially
    2. Recording or transmitting, without the consent of a person the image of the person in a private place

    When the acts previously mentioned were done visibly and with the persons being recorded being aware of the recording, and the persons did not oppose the recording while they had the possibility to do so, then the consentment of the persons is assumed."

    Article 226-2

    "Punished by the same amount the act of keeping, carrying or bringing to the knowledge of the public or to a third person or to use by any means whatsoever the recordings or documents obtained by one of the acts mentioned in 226-1.

    When the crime committed by the previous article is carried out by the press (written or audiovisual) the specific laws governing these activities are appliucable to determine the responsible persons."

    Article 226-6

    "In the case of 226-1 and 226-2 public action can only be carried out after complaint by the victim or his legal representative"
    Note: In the USA, Public is anything you can see from the public road/side walk. Private is any area which is not open to the public like inside your home, or in your solid fenced back yard. If you are in a city park it is considered public.
    Published, depends on use, Travel photos of private homes, viewable as from the street at least in the US no legal actions are available to the owners unless it's being published in a magazine, travel book, add, but on this site no problem as it can be defined as art, not commercial. Maybe an lawyer can correct me if I'm wrong. But out side the US it's a different thing.
    GRF

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  13. #13
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Freygr, OldClicker, thanks very much! I stand corrected, I never realised that there was such a difference between countries.

    In France I believe that a "private" place is anywhere with published rules. Someone is responsible for the place and published the rules. Go into a "public" park or "public" transport or a place "open to the public" like a shopping mall and there are rules posted somewhere.

    One question. In France people talk about "Droit l'image" meaning that a person "owns" their image even in a public place and can ask you for money if you try to take their picture. Does that sound familiar?

    "Droit l'image" does not exist in law (this why I carry article 226 around with me). I think that people get the idea after seeing celebrities getting substantial damages from newspapers and magazines for invasion of private life. They don't realise that the money part is after publication, not in taking the picture. And it's commercial publication as well..
    Charles

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  14. #14
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais View Post
    Freygr, OldClicker, thanks very much! I stand corrected, I never realised that there was such a difference between countries.

    In France I believe that a "private" place is anywhere with published rules. Someone is responsible for the place and published the rules. Go into a "public" park or "public" transport or a place "open to the public" like a shopping mall and there are rules posted somewhere.

    One question. In France people talk about "Droit l'image" meaning that a person "owns" their image even in a public place and can ask you for money if you try to take their picture. Does that sound familiar?

    "Droit l'image" does not exist in law (this why I carry article 226 around with me). I think that people get the idea after seeing celebrities getting substantial damages from newspapers and magazines for invasion of private life. They don't realise that the money part is after publication, not in taking the picture. And it's commercial publication as well..
    No "Droit l'image" where I usually shoot; but the US is a big, diverse place. Some do seem to believe that they can require the photographer to delete the images.

    "Go into a "public" park or "public" transport or a place "open to the public" like a shopping mall and there are rules posted somewhere." The shopping mall would be the same here - private property usually with (very small, hard to find) posted rules. True public places (gov't owned) often have rules about photography, but not privacy. For instance, our county forest preserves require permits for any commercial (wedding, family portrait) or 'organized' (a club outing) shoots. The fee depends on the activity (club shoots are free). Many public buildings do not allow tripods. Most of these rules are for safety or to limit congestion.

    Again, privacy in the US is about 'reasonable expectation of privacy'. If I can be prevented from shooting someone for privacy reasons, I probably can also be prevented from 'peeping' even without a camera.

    Terry
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  15. #15
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    Re: Street photography

    Thanks for sharing that tips...As a beginner in photography, I am learning a lot from it.

  16. #16
    Ctn
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    Re: Street photography

    Same. I learn alot from to too.
    I am glad to see im not the only one that is struggling with this.

  17. #17
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    An example from this afternoon

    My project:

    I have always been interested by the multicoloured, multicultural population of Paris and the suburbs, in particular the children of people from all over the world who came to work in the area from the 1960's onwards. They are French but sometimes they have difficulty in integrating.

    My favourite example of integration is Chinese New Year in Paris Chinatown, ever since I noticed how many of the participants aren't even remotely Chinese. It's the local Carnaval celebrated by the people who live there - whatever their origin

    Dealing with the subjects:

    It is socially acceptable to do photos at the Chinese New Year parade, plus it happens in the street. The costumed participants usually accept to be photographed. These young men all came crowding in and they adhered to my project when I explained why I wanted them in particular

    Street photography is not difficult if you choose the right moment and the right subject
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Street photography-4510-020.jpg  
    Charles

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  18. #18
    banished Don Schaeffer's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    I used to do a lot of street photography. But I shot from the safety of a bus window. I still got some nasty feedback. Now I shoot mostly flowers.

  19. #19
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    Re: Street photography

    I have done some street in a number of countries.
    I am currently visiting France and have avoided it here as I am aware that it is very restrictive and i do not usually go for releases.
    The UK, Spain and Italy are not restrictive as long as you are in a public place.
    There are some exceptions such as Trafalgar Square which has local byelaws that restrict commercial photography.
    Italy and Spain were the best. People there seem to love having their photo taken.
    If I get any queries then I always offer a free copy to whoever I am taking the photo of and if they object then I do not publish and assure them their photo will not be used.
    I did not have any problem with the people in South Africa but kept in my car as it is dangerous there. If the natives see an expensive camera they will go for it and often produce a gun (attacked twice there so gave up trying).

    Sometimes I will stay hidden because you get the more natural expressions (not because I am trying to be sneaky).

    More often I will just go out a click away. If you catch people before they pose then I find you get a more natural scene but sometimes, if they are cooperative, then you can get some nice portraits.

    I think my advice would be make sure you are aware of the law before you go out. Start cautiously with people that are really friendly and then progress.

    Here is a gallery of some examples from the UK. Taken in a seaside town where people are more used to cameras snapping away.


    Street photography in the UK


    Good luck with your photos and just go for it and have a try. Once you get into it then it becomes less daunting.

  20. #20
    banished Don Schaeffer's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    I once took a picture of someone's floral hedge from the public sidewalk. She came running out and yelled at me. I deleted the photo. I asked myself--what's the point of having flowers if you can't look at them. The camera is an extension of the eye.

    I don't think posting on a forum is the same as publication. It's more like showing a photo to friends. Publication is a one-way medium with a commercial aspect. Usually, the prohibitions in law exclude artistic use.

  21. #21
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    The one I have trouble with is 'model release'.
    Street shots are often quick, showing an atmosphere or cultural relevance and if using a zoom, you very well may never be able to make contact with one or several people in the image.
    What if its an inspiring world famous image or has the potential.(not likely in my case),
    News, both printed and broadcast, show pics and videos all the time of individuals and crowds.
    I doubt they have release forms from everyone but the images are being used commercially?
    Keep Shooting!

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  22. #22
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog View Post
    The one I have trouble with is 'model release'.
    Street shots are often quick, showing an atmosphere or cultural relevance and if using a zoom, you very well may never be able to make contact with one or several people in the image.
    What if its an inspiring world famous image or has the potential.(not likely in my case),
    News, both printed and broadcast, show pics and videos all the time of individuals and crowds.
    I doubt they have release forms from everyone but the images are being used commercially?
    In the US, editorial (news) is completely different than commercial and does not require a release. Even though not required, local newspaper photographers that I know are very careful about getting the names and permission from nearly everyone they photograph. - Terry
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  23. #23
    racing > all
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    Re: Street photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog View Post
    The one I have trouble with is 'model release'.
    Street shots are often quick, showing an atmosphere or cultural relevance and if using a zoom, you very well may never be able to make contact with one or several people in the image.
    What if its an inspiring world famous image or has the potential.(not likely in my case),
    News, both printed and broadcast, show pics and videos all the time of individuals and crowds.
    I doubt they have release forms from everyone but the images are being used commercially?
    I coach a few sports and the local newspapers get photo releases on any picture taken even though it's still news. A good policy IMO.

    My wife and I took a vacation in 2010 to San Diego for a nursing conference. One of the things we did in our free time was take a boat ride to see Dolphins. There is a large Navy base there and I was photographing an aircraft carrier leaving when my wife spotted something in the water. I switched to a longer lens and saw it was a sub and started snapping some pictures. When we got home, I posted them in a thread on our local car enthusiast forum.

    I got an email that someone had responded to the thread so I checked it and saw his comment (cool shot of the sub!). Yet, in my post, there was no sub shot. I edited the original post and put it back in, hours later noticing it was gone again. I PMd a moderator to inquire who was deleting it and he responded that there was no history of edits other than my one to the specific post. Later that afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting two federal agents who had a few questions as to why exactly I was photographing one of their brand new Virginia class nuclear submarines. After about an hour of questioning myself and my wife, they decided I posed no threat to national security, but asked me to show them the computer, the camera, and anywhere else I had the pictures and delete them while they watched. I didn't tell them I had a copy on a backup drive, it was a great shot even if I can only look at it myself.

    Their chief concern was that the locations of active submarines is something they don't want getting out into the public for obvious reasons. My question was, if that's the case, why did you bring it into port on a bright sunny day at noon, especially a port where you know there is so much tourist and fishing traffic. We never did figure out who deleted the photo off the website, the head administrator claims it wasn't him.
    98 Cobra - AI racecar - 300HP, lots of suspension

    Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (450D)
    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
    Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS

    So long as you credit me as the original photographer, go to town with my work. You can't make it any worse.

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