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Old 09-25-2004, 05:32 PM   #16
dns860's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Mount Vernon, New York
Posts: 68
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Last Wednesday I made twelve 8"x11" prints of a variety of Metro-North trains. I put them in a large manila envelope with my resume and a letter requesting some sort of documentation stating I was a known railroad photographer and that I have railroad's permission to do my thing from public areas on railroad property.

Meanwhile, I've kind of drifted away from the railfan scene. When I think about it, I really do feel my life is missing a fun, productive component. The new camera I bought in June now just sits in its case on the bookshelf, out of action, its batteries removed.

I do like all kinds of photography, but I only have so much interest in practicing my skills by taking pictures of ducks in the pond at the park, as one policeman advised me to do. Believe me, that's about your only acceptable option for public subjects around here nowadays, and I wouldn't be surprised if even that brought some attention from the police. How would they know if you're focusing on a duck or the Citicorp building in the distance?

See, you can't take pictures of banks, dams, bridges, tunnels, offices, or government buildings. Even if they're far off in the background. That means you can't even pose your girlfriend in front of the post office. It's a federal building.

If I was in the camera business, I'd be pretty bummed out. The public at large seems to believe photography is against the law now. It must be killing sales, at least in New York City. I mean, even recent immigrants who barely speak English have come up to me on the street, wagged their finger, and said, "No pictures! No pictures!"

Since the Republican convention ended the police presence has become less visible. But I'm sure they're watching. I don't want to make good on their threat of arresting me if they see me taking pictures again, so I've been laying low. It's frustrating! Hopefully the railroad will grant me permission to do my thing.

I made some new friends here. I received a lot of supportive letters over the summer as the multiple confrontations built up to a final ultimatum. This morning I realized I hadn't checked out the forum in as many weeks. I'm shut down I guess. It's not as interesting when you're barred from participating.

Sure, I can take more far-flung field trips to railroad lines farther removed from the NYC area, and I suppose I will. But I kind of liked just doing my thing while on the way to and from my regular daily business.

I still go by the station nearly every day. I don't bring my little digicam anymore. Sometimes I see things I know would make good shots, and I lament that I don't have my camera to capture them.

I've become so wary however that I don't even like to use the term "shoot" or "shot" out of concern someone somewhere might misinterpret my use of the language of photography. "He said he was gonna' shoot the train! Call Homeland Security!"

Meanwhile, some of my friends who attend sports events still bring their cameras and take pictures inside the stadium. Now that's a place where huge crowds gather. Why isn't photography banned inside stadiums? I guess I don't see the logic, try as I may. I just try to practice a little patriotic acceptance at being forbidden to photograph trains.

So that's where I'm at right now. Just hanging out. Things are okay otherwise. Seems like the news is about Iraq, hurricanes, and the finger pointing election "issues" of the day. Guess things are the same everywhere in that regard.

"In every life we have some trouble / but when you worry / you make it double / So don't worry, be happy!"

David Sommer
Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
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