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View Full Version : TO DAVID SOMMER, RE: COPS AGAIN


AEM7NATE
08-06-2004, 11:15 PM
I got a beautiful day today, and went to Perryville MD on my day off to sit on the platform of the MARC station and catch the electric action. No more the 25 minutes later a pleasant MD trooper politely booted me off. She ran the full ID thing, and we chatted about what I did and all, but in the end I had to leave. "Uncomfortable folks" she reasoned.

I just wanted to share this mainly with Dave, as I read his post and subsequent article on his mis-adventures quite carefully. When this trooper called me in, she went pretty far up the line (chain of command), so the "Right to Photograph" and other common sense pleas would not have gotten far with her, so my 8hr day of fun lasted 25min.

All I am doing is sharing, not flaming anyone. It just gets me that as hard as we are fighting to maintain American life, so many of these small freedoms (not only railfanning) are going away. I want to shoot electrics, and other Amtrak Northeast action. I shoot Provia 100F on a K1000 with different Pentax lenses, (new at slides, all my current work here is print). I take pride and enjoy shooting manually, as I get better satisfaction setting up the shot. It takes time. I refuse to hide in a bush, snap a shot and hide again. Heck, I never thought the toughest challenge shooting manually would be to get to the trains!

I will keep trying to shoot what I enjoy. I believe this is a good PHOTO topic, as what leg do us railfans have against this absurdity? It's amazing how fast cops jump on "concerned calls".

What do you guys think? I hope this is not seen as complaining. My way of fighting our current world climate is to not change anything I did before 9/11/01. I am trying to at least.

God Bless America (and railfans!!)


Regards,

NM

Ween
08-07-2004, 01:55 AM
Heh. Things are different here in IL. I had a guy stop today as I waited trackside and say, "You know, there's a tressle about a quarter mile or so down the track that you could get under and get a pretty neat 'looking up' shot."

Needless to say, no cops were called. :lol:

Joe
08-07-2004, 03:31 AM
WOW! I've never gotten advice from a passerby! Just stares and the occasional rude gesture! We need those kinda people up in Chicagoland! :lol:

StL-rail
08-07-2004, 06:36 AM
I've been known to take risks sometimes to get that perfect shot. For example, in this photo (http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=72527) I stood in the center platform of Kirkwood Station (RR property, technically). I left right after it had past, because I had to go home. Later that night, my friend called me, he told me the RR sent out a cop, and that the crew had said, quote "Theres some idiot with a tripod taking pictures at Kirkwood, between one and two."

Ok, so I might have been on RR property (technically, mind you :roll: ), but I wasn't putting myself in a particularly dangerous situation, wasn't throwing anything at the train or anything, just taking pictures.

Now I know there are many RR crews out there who understand, and may, or may not respect our hobby. They know that we are doing nothing wrong, and are there just for fun, or to preserve history and what not. But, there are also (no offence to all RR employees) some crews out there, that are just plain jackasses. They have no understanding or respect for our hobby. They don't want to take the time learn about us railfans either. To them, its just a job, nothing more, nothing less. They are just like the countless other miserable Americans, working in jobs they would rather NOT have.

I say they need to take a second look at what they are doing to our hobby, and possibly our national safety, as most railfans would report what they considered "suspicious" activity. Not to mention the REAL trespassers.

Just my two cents.

Chris Starnes
08-07-2004, 07:05 AM
"Theres some idiot with a tripod taking pictures at Kirkwood, between one and two."

Chances are if they said that you were doing something that you shouldn't have been....

Not to many places you go will you be called if if you are minding your own business and are on public property.

Aaron
08-07-2004, 07:33 AM
Chris I would have to disagree with you. Quite often so I get Police asking me what I am doing, and why I am doing it! Public or not. I have just come to realize police presence is just part of the hobby. I even once had a helicopter track me down. Stupid Farmer calling the police saying i was trying to derail a train. That was a kinda a plus side since every train on CN and CP were stopped from Toronto to Smith Falls (on CP) and Toronto to Quebec on CN. Offered some nice slow moving photo opps.

Ween
08-07-2004, 08:22 AM
"Theres some idiot with a tripod taking pictures at Kirkwood, between one and two."

And here he is!!!!!!!

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=72514

Probably not the wisest spot to set up shop. Maybe if there was some other people on the center platform it would be different, but I can see why the crew thought you were "some idiot!" :lol:

AEM7NATE
08-07-2004, 04:13 PM
Regretfully, I would not have shot between 1 and 2 either. Four years ago? Sure. Today? Nope. Now I might have gone on that platform between the tracks...

Nothing critical to you John, I have that same drive for the shot. These days though I am forced to temper it with what may or may not get me in trouble. Some may say that is giving in, I don't think so. Though I won't hide-and-shoot, I would rather move to other locations then be faced with the reality that there is no where else.

I will also say that permission and 'asking' can be powerful. Swallow the pride and ask. My experience (not always) has been I get MORE leeway when I ask!! Also, I get cards and signatures from those who question me, (cops). That way if I get bothered again, I can flash the card and say I am legal. :roll:

Best Regards All.

Warren
08-07-2004, 05:13 PM
I know John and so do the station people and even some of the engineers and none would have a problem with him being there. That is a great thing about Kirkwood station nobody messes with us railfans even with a police station in plain view of John and the station they have never came over to see what we were up too not once even with John Kerry comming thru!
John knows the area and also has a scanner strapped to his hip and would not ever get caught between two trains there. I think his friend may have been pulling his leg cause I had the scanner on and heard nothing of the sort. :)

Robert28
08-07-2004, 06:00 PM
Unfortunatly I think Cops are somthing that we are going to have to deal with for the forseeable future. I just choose to stay away from areas where I have been hassled before. Fortunatly in East TN we have plenty of rural locations. Actually the only place I have been questioned is in the town I live in. So I don't shoot there anymore. In other places I've had cops drive right past me and wave. I think alot of it has to do with the attitude of individual depts. I had one cop in a little one stoplight town question me but he just wanted to know if I was from one of the areas newspapers. :) And yes I have had run ins with unfriendlly crews but I also have had crews sit and talk to me at sidings and such while they were waiting. So i guess the point is take the good with the bad, don't do anything stupid and be safe out there.

Robert

Ween
08-07-2004, 06:03 PM
John knows the area and also has a scanner strapped to his hip and would not ever get caught between two trains there.

Speaking of idiots, I almost got shwacked the other day in New Baden:

http://paulhamus.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=37249

I heard the grade crossing bells start dinging and I turned around and here comes this mother trucker at track speed! I scrambled off the rails, but I was able to get my camera out and grab a snap! I like the old days when you could hear the diesels chugging from a mile away!!

AEM7NATE
08-07-2004, 06:55 PM
You were ON the rails?

Respectfully speaking, were you out of your mind? ;<)

NM

Warren
08-07-2004, 09:07 PM
Well Ween it's backlit :wink: lol and it looks like from the elevation of the shot you may have been on your backside! :lol:

JButler
08-08-2004, 02:36 AM
"center platform of Kirkwood Station (RR property, "technically")."

If the photo of you between the tracks is any indication, you were not on the “platform,” an area where pedestrians/passengers are expected to be. So technically you were trespassing, technically you could be cited or arrested, technically you could be fined or jailed, technically if the crew doesn't know you or what you are doing, you are a hazard to them. Additionally, photos you take from private property, without permission, could be subject to forfeiture through civil process (not likely to happen of course).

"I heard the grade crossing bells start dinging and I turned around and here comes this mother trucker at track speed! I scrambled off the rails"

You were actually on the tracks?!?!

Guys, next to some nutcases from the middle east who want to blow up everything in the U.S. we, railfans, are our own worst enemy.
A little common sense goes a long way. Stay off the tracks, stay off RR structures and equipment. Don't put yourself in a place or position that a crew will have to worry about you and what you are doing. Most cops, myself included, and RR officials will let you slide on minor trespassing issues as long as you are using your head and staying out of harms way.
I don't want to sound like I'm preaching, because it is easy to be on RR property and not even know it, and everyone, including me, has stood right next to the tracks to get a good shot. But, if your actions on RR property make RR employees nervous, you will become a target of the RR or the police, and maybe you deserve a closer inspection by the local constabulary. At any rate, you are not helping our case as railfans.

Another point to keep in mind, the major railroads have always wanted to keep railfans out of their hair. We are a liability and nothing more to them. They can use 9-11 as an excuse to keep us from some areas, but the actions of some of our buddies will do us much more harm.

Jim Butler

cmherndon
08-08-2004, 04:34 AM
I've had a few run-ins with the cops myself at Waddy (twice), Harrodsburg, and Burgin. The incidents at Waddy were called in by residents, and the other two were just cops passing by and wanted to know what I was doing. Apparently it didn't seem odd to them. As far as crews go, most of them that I know of (and this can be backed up from a conductor friend of mine) can tell if someone's out ot cause trouble or just out taking photos. I guess the main thing is just be safe and don't do anything stupid.

Ween
08-08-2004, 06:31 AM
You were actually on the tracks?!?!

Along the ties, but close enough to where I could have gotten pummeled.

Either way, I don't want to turn this into a high school algebra word problem, but how far away does a train travelling at 50 MPH trigger the grade crossing gates and bells to sound factoring in another 100 yards from where I was to the grade crossing itself? It wasn't as if I was in grave danger. Had I been Stephen Hawking in my moto-chair, I may have not had time to get out of the way, but I was able to get out of the way, get my camera out of it's case, set up, and get a shot. I'd say I had a good 15-30 seconds of lead time before the Catfish would have gotten me. I know that doesn't sound like alot of time, but time yourself running for 30 seconds and see how far you get!

And Jim, in my case, it's pretty self-critquing, but thanks for the lecture anyway. :lol:

E.M. Bell
08-08-2004, 03:43 PM
I have taken pictures laying in a ditch, hanging from rocks and trees, the top of my truck, bridges, cliffs, parking structures and so on and so forth, but geeez man, never from no mans land (what a lot of rails call the area in between two main tracks).....glad you got a good pic, but is it really worth putting yourself in danger and scaring the bejebbers out of a train crew just to get a shot to post here?? Ever seen what a broken and dragging metal band, dragging chain or other such obstruction can do to a person, even at slow speeds?? Speaking as a former engineer, seeing anyone in that position would scare the hell out of me no matter what speed I was going, and would result in that person being called in in a expedited manner.

its just a friggin hobby, lets be safe out there..NO PICTURE is worth spending the rest of your life in a wheel chair, or missing a few parts, and if you dont have respect enough to keep yourself out of danger, then at least have a little respect for the train crews..those guys have to deal with enough idiots every trip they make without a photog adding to it...

Warren
08-09-2004, 12:14 AM
kd4jsl wrote
I have taken pictures laying in a ditch, hanging from rocks and trees, the top of my truck, bridges, cliffs, parking structures
:shock: and
NO PICTURE is worth spending the rest of your life in a wheel chair, or missing a few parts
You may want to be careful too! :D :wink:

E3429
08-09-2004, 09:33 AM
[/quote]I have taken pictures laying in a ditch, hanging from rocks and trees, the top of my truck, bridges, cliffs, parking structures and so on and so forth, but geeez man, never from no mans land (what a lot of rails call the area in between two main tracks).....

Never?
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=48114

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=71025

:twisted:

E.M. Bell
08-09-2004, 01:37 PM
standing on the sidewalk at the crossing at Waddy with a train that was tied down and hadn't moved in 45 mintues, and at the end of a track bumper at Kingsport...BTW, both taken with at least a 300mm tele....just like..

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=72769 Outside of a cruve with a 640MM lens..train was a loonnng way away and not moving. There is a BIG differance between the two you pointed out, and standing in the middle of two mainline tracks with a train passing by at speed. Next??????

cmherndon
08-09-2004, 02:01 PM
standing on the sidewalk at the crossing at Waddy with a train that was tied down and hadn't moved in 45 mintues, and at the end of a track bumper at Kingsport...BTW, both taken with at least a 300mm tele....just like..

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=72769 Outside of a cruve with a 640MM lens..train was a loonnng way away and not moving. There is a BIG differance between the two you pointed out, and standing in the middle of two mainline tracks with a train passing by at speed.


Yes, SLR users can give that illusion of standing somewhere they shouldn't be. There is a HUGE difference between getting close when the train is not moving, and being a total ass clown and standing between the two main tracks in front of a MOVING train. Just don't whine when you get run over standing in "no man's land"

Warren
08-10-2004, 12:58 AM
kd4jsl wrote:
There is a BIG differance between the two you pointed out, and standing in the middle of two mainline tracks with a train passing by at speed. Next??????
As far as Mr. Bell's photos they look like he always respects RR property, mine should be so good! :)
I just want to make it clear here that this train was stopped and waiting for the east bound amtrack who was at least 10 min out. John was long gone by then.
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=72514
Ween assumed something about that photo that was not true and may have just been kidding.

Ween
08-10-2004, 06:46 AM
Ween assumed something about that photo that was not true and may have just been kidding.

Yeah, I was kidding. When you see this guy ( :lol: ) in my posts, I'm just joshing. No worries...

StL-rail
08-10-2004, 08:27 AM
JButler wrote: "If the photo of you between the tracks is any indication, you were not on the “platform,” an area where pedestrians/passengers are expected to be. So technically you were trespassing, technically you could be cited or arrested, technically you could be fined or jailed, technically if the crew doesn't know you or what you are doing, you are a hazard to them. Additionally, photos you take from private property, without permission, could be subject to forfeiture through civil process (not likely to happen of course)."

Acutally, that photo isn't an indication of where I was standing. I was at the other end of the platform, maybe, oh, 15 ft from the grade crossing. I have heard conflicting stories many times, some saying that the platform is owned by the City of Kirkwood, others that it is owned by UP. So, I'm still not real sure which is right. I positioned myself at what I figured was a safe distance from the tracks, as I am aware of the possibility of dragging equipment. Although, there is a defect dector just east of Kirkwood, and it reported "no defect", so I was probably somewhat safe from anything like that.

Robert28
08-10-2004, 08:44 AM
I'd have to agree with Mr. Bell on this one too. As a photographer I do my best to stay off of RR property. There is no excuse to set up between two mains. Instead how about letting that one pass and investing in a tele or zoom lens so you can shoot from the other side of the track and still get the same picture. Someone also stated that he had a scanner so he wouldn't get caught. That don't fly either. You all may get better reception out there in flatland but here in the hills rarely do I hear trains more than one or two blocks from me. There are some areas on the south end of the CNO&TP where about the only warning you get is the crossing bells or you hear the noise of the train echoing of the hills. As has already been stated be safe and for crying out loud use your head.

Robert

E3429
08-10-2004, 11:01 AM
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=64143

Expect movement on any track at any time. :lol:

E.M. Bell
08-10-2004, 12:51 PM
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=64143

Expect movement on any track at any time. :lol:


Once again...LARGE lens from a very low angle shot from across the spiral of the curve....and if you have so much fun trying to catch me in something, at least have the guts to sign your post like everybody does...

Next??

Ken Carr
08-10-2004, 11:06 PM
Ok I give up here a shot
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=41666
In between the main and track 2 and 3. There's 1.7 miles of striaght track in front of me and another 3/4 of mile behind, with visability over ten miles. In this example I'll take my chances

Aaron
08-11-2004, 12:00 AM
I think that I need to add something to this convo. If I ever plan to journey out on the rails I make sure that I check a signal and have my scanner on hand usually with the fred chanel on priority scan which means i have the EOT and FOT devices monitored and my scanner will alert if a train comes within a mile of me, but most importantly I make sure I can read the signals. I am not saying that I like to walk the rails, but there are precautions that can be taken if you are going to take the chance. I know that I am going to get a lot of feed back from this

Ween
08-11-2004, 04:48 AM
If I ever plan to journey out on the rails I make sure that I check a signal

Yeah, that's what I was doing!!! :lol:

AEM7NATE
08-11-2004, 06:08 PM
All:

How amusing this thread has become. I'll add is that any shot can be very deceiving as to where it was shot from. :wink:

While I doubt I would go between tracks, I might push the limit a bit if permission is had, and/or circumstances are favorable. It really can be a fine line. I just try to remember that my most relaxing times can be by the rails and I don't want to do anything to jepordize that. As hard as it is, we must use restraint at times, even when treated unfairly. In the end most of law enforcement is just doing their job (not ruin our day), and even when I don't agree I will respect them for who they are and what they do.

Just the same, I am not beyond some respectful education of such cops on what I am doing!! :lol:

dns860
08-16-2004, 12:35 AM
I've been traveling. Great to see I'm not alone in having problems pursuing my hobby.

A new article about my experiences with the police while photographing trains appeared in The Harford Courant on August 11th, 2004. If you'd like to read it, click here:

http://www.ctnow.com/features/lifestyle/hc-phototrouble.artaug11,0,5567581.story

Thanks to all for their advice and support!!! I've got some catching up to do on these boards. It's great to see so many comments from around the country!

Dave

AEM7NATE
08-16-2004, 01:25 AM
Hi Dave!!

Well, my original post was directed at you, so I am glad you finally caught it. How interesting our hobby has become!!

Regards,

NM

Bob Pickering
08-17-2004, 03:49 AM
This is interesting however I have photographed all over the eastern USA recently including Perryville and no problems

I try to put myself where I would not alarm people and I usually keep my gear in my bag. To the casual observer I look like a passenger. To others who see my radio I am sometimes mistaken for someone who works for the RR however I make efforts to not look like a railroader.


Unfortunatly some law enforcemnet (I work in Emergency Services) do not take the right approach to things.

Bob

cmherndon
08-17-2004, 05:01 AM
however I make efforts to not look like a railroader.

Hmmm. I guess we take a whole different approach to it then. I always go out and railfan wearing jeans and steel toed boots (complete with a GE two-way radio). I've found that people don't ask any questions other than, "Do you work for the railroad?" Usually, that answer is "yes".

Miketherailfan
08-17-2004, 09:24 PM
Here's something crazy:

July 30th found my dad and me waiting for the PRR Es 5711 & 5809-lead Buckeye Limited in West Park. While my dad sits near the steps on the signal bridge, a cop pulls up and talks to my dad. Apparently some local idiot called the police on him saying he was "a terrorist messing up the signal box" but never opened the it! People around here are always stupid :x