Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby BoilerBob » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:21 am

If anyone wants to photograph AMTRAK trains, come to Wilmington, DE. I have been on the platform many times without being ticketed and have never had any problem with the police. I was asked by AMTRAK police once, "What are you doing? Railfanning?" I replied yes and that was that. The officer said "OK" and left me alone to photo trains. And this was AFTER 9/11. I guess Wilmington isn't very high on the terrorists list of targets.

I do understand the paranoia of law enforcement in NYC, D.C. and Boston.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby Ken W2KB » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:11 pm

atsf sp wrote:Penn is bad. Big cities are bad. That is where they want to get you. I have taken pictures of Amtrak out west from there platforms with about 5 other railfans around me and the people out there do not care. At South Station in Boston one time i didn't even have my camera but I was just walking on a platform to see the pre departed(1 hour before) LSL on a seperate platform and the conductor asked me to turn around and I did. He was kind about it though. Asked what I was doing, replied, wanted to see the P42s and he said yeah they don't like you going down there. I use to just go down the platforms every time i went to South to stand by the engines to hear them up close. If there are cops on the platform I don't take the picture. I was in Chicago at Union and and didn't take a pic of the LSL and a METRA train. Don't take pics on major terminal stations now. Go to rural platforms. I was at South Station two days ago and I found myself cursing Joe Boardman.


I have taken some photos from the east (station waiting room) end of the platforms at South Station, Boston, a few times over the past several years to wile away the time waiting for my train. Never was challenged by anyone. I did not venture down the platforms. I did have my Acela ticket to Newark, NJ in my pocket so would have been able to produce that if the occasion arose.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby Travelsonic » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:07 pm

RussNelson wrote:
David Benton wrote:what on earth is suspicious about openly taking a photo . ???

Terrorists always take photos of places they're going to attack.


Is that sarcasm? Because if it is, it is hard to tell since people *actually* believe that despite not proving solid proof. A recent popular science magazine covered the issue of photography, law, and photographer harassment, and it was quite an interesting read. This idea actually was covered, with a shadow of doubt and even evidence to support the opposite - that photography is helpful for prevention and moreso for catching suspects.


The LIRR, MTA may have a very open policy about photography, but that doesn't mean that you'll be free of harassment from employees who may be ignorant about it [same is true with any RR with somewhat open photography policies].
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby RailBus63 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:43 pm

Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I’ve yet to have a police officer demand that I delete my digital photos. The furthest the situation has gone is the request for identification and the call in on the radio with my driver’s license info. It can be somewhat intimidating, but I always keep my answers civil and do not give the officer any reason to escalate the situation.

I’ve always been cleared and in most cases have been given the OK to continue photographing, but I did have one recent incident on the PATCO system in Philadelphia where a Port Authority officer informed me that photography was not permitted on station platforms. I asked if I could take one more photograph of an approaching train and his answer was “I can’t tell you to stop, but I would rather you didn’t” so I respected his request and let the train pass by (he was still standing next to me at the time). Some in the railfan community may not agree with my decision, but this officer had been nothing but professional throughout our encounter and I decided it was better to leave a positive impression about railfans in his mind and get advance permission for a future visit to come back and take the photo.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby kevikens » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:32 pm

class act.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby JLJ061 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:27 pm

Just yesterday I was riding the South Shore and when we were pulling into Michigan City Shops I whipped about the video camera and started taking shots of the yard through the window. As the conductor came through she started to tell me "They (the railroad) doesn't really like anyone taking video of the yards, trains or whatever."

Knowing the South Shore is very tolerant of responsible photographers, I told her I have never had any problems before with the railroad, and her only reply was "It's because all that's been going on."

Throughout the entire conversation she never sounded hostile or upset, more like a casual "I'm required to tell you this" attitude, so I just let her do her speech and left it at that.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby justalurker66 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:35 am

JLJ061 wrote:Just yesterday I was riding the South Shore and when we were pulling into Michigan City Shops I whipped about the video camera and started taking shots of the yard through the window. As the conductor came through she started to tell me "They (the railroad) doesn't really like anyone taking video of the yards, trains or whatever."

Knowing the South Shore is very tolerant of responsible photographers, I told her I have never had any problems before with the railroad, and her only reply was "It's because all that's been going on."

Throughout the entire conversation she never sounded hostile or upset, more like a casual "I'm required to tell you this" attitude, so I just let her do her speech and left it at that.


I've seen and now have managed to take photos from public locations along the South Shore that I had avoided since 9/11. I've only been stopped once ... a transit officer at Miller didn't like me taking a picture of a signal cabinet (I was actually taking a picture of the switch nearby). I am careful not to take pictures of station cameras or security.

On Amtrak's "National Train Day" I went to Chicago and on the way back from Union Station I walked the length of all of the NICTD platforms at Millennium Park, taking photos from each end. A conductor was loading a train when I got there ... I left that platform for after the train left so I would not interfere with her work. A yard worker was also present ... she moved some cars from one platform to another. No one said a word to me about my presence. (I chose not to take pictures in the Metra areas of the station ... although I'd like to get downstairs some time and see the layout for myself.) I have also videotaped a train stopping at a station and of course several pass bys.

I can see the sensitivity about the yard area (did you see 106?). But there is a public bridge with a sidewalk over that yard so it is hard to keep people from seeing things. I did have a Michigan City officer stop me once for being on the non-sidewalk side of the bridge. No arrest, just "be careful".

One other note: I've started emptying my camera card before trips. Not only does it leave room for more pictures and video but it also removes previous day/month photos that would expose just how many pictures I've taken of the operation (about 1200 in the past year). If stopped, I'd rather only have to explain today's photos.

"It's because all that's been going on."


Did I miss something? Has there been vandalism or other problems?
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby JLJ061 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:49 pm

justalurker66 wrote:Did I miss something? Has there been vandalism or other problems?


I don't think so, I just took it as a vague reference to 9/11, and the whole spiel was just so she could cover her rear with her superiors.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby Montrealrail » Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:57 pm

I just get this one today,I just seen a railway emloye come to say to be carefull,I answered him that I know the safety rules beside tracks and trains,then,he let me do all the pics I wanted..
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby Cadguru » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:48 am

old topic but my 2 cents.

If you are on public land you can take a photo and your rights will be upheld. If you are in Penn Station, then technically if they have a policy that no photography or video devices are to be used then that is their right to enforce it because it is owned by the city, etc.
http://www.nycsubway.org/faq/photography.html
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby jcuknz » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:36 pm

You can talk about photographer's rights and all that guff but the point is if you are on private property then those controlling that property have to be obeyed. I learnt this as a very young photographer when I had to get a shot of a school where there had been a sex-scandel and foolishly parked the firm's van where the school could see it. :-)
As far as Amtrak I guess it depends on where you are and who the guards are and their attitudes. I took plenty of shots in and from the Empire Builder recently and one shot in Union Station Chicago with reluctance, but my son wanted the shot, being the first time he had travelled by Amtrak. Back in '05 I was queried by Amtrak staff at Sacramento but not stopped as I took a shot of a train leaving for the south from under the bridges beyond the platform end. I guess with my accent I was obviously a tourist :-)
http://www.jcuknz-photos.com/ChicagoP1010900.jpg
http://www.jcuknz-photos.com/SacramentoP1010588.jpg
Despite the similar numbers they were taken with different cameras five years apart :-)
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:41 pm

jcuknz wrote:As far as Amtrak I guess it depends on where you are and who the guards are and their attitudes. I took plenty of shots in and from the Empire Builder recently and one shot in Union Station Chicago with reluctance, but my son wanted the shot, being the first time he had travelled by Amtrak.

Being a passenger helps ... the "intent" of the photo seems more obvious ... as a memory of your journey.
It is the non-passengers that raise suspicions. "I like trains" doesn't seem to be a good enough answer for some.

But being polite, staying out of the way and staying on the beaten path (where the general public is expected to stay) usually works.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby Travelsonic » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:45 am

Cadguru wrote:old topic but my 2 cents.

If you are on public land you can take a photo and your rights will be upheld. If you are in Penn Station, then technically if they have a policy that no photography or video devices are to be used then that is their right to enforce it because it is owned by the city, etc.
l


I'm really onfused here - if it is owned by the city... if taxpayer dollars go to its upkeeping... ugh, still too early in the day for me, I gave myself a headache trying to decipher it without sounding like an idiot.
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Re: Amtrak and Photo Taking = Arrest

Postby Ken W2KB » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:44 pm

Travelsonic wrote:
Cadguru wrote:old topic but my 2 cents.

If you are on public land you can take a photo and your rights will be upheld. If you are in Penn Station, then technically if they have a policy that no photography or video devices are to be used then that is their right to enforce it because it is owned by the city, etc.
l


I'm really onfused here - if it is owned by the city... if taxpayer dollars go to its upkeeping... ugh, still too early in the day for me, I gave myself a headache trying to decipher it without sounding like an idiot.


Think of it this way, public streets and sidewalks are for passage and any for lawful activity so can't be restricted so long as the photographer doesn't obstruct the primary public use of passage. But photography can be restricted inside publicly owned buildings since the purpose of those buildings is to conduct certain specific government business, not any lawful use, and thus the government agency can adopt regulations for them. Extreme example would be to walk into a public building housing the police and wander about the floors, etc. let alone taking photos. Public ownership and taxpayer supported, but if the visitor is not present for conducting business with the police department, the visit can be prohibited.
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Airfans Beware

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed May 28, 2014 8:43 am

Likely as good a place as any to introduce this material regarding 'transportation photo journalism', but airfans wanting to take photos while in flight should find this Joe Sharkey, The Times' business travel columnist, material to be of interest. It also should be of interest to any comtemplating taking photos on board trains:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/busin ... print.html

Brief passage:

    Let me say upfront that I dislike the pervading notion these days that music needs to fill every formerly silent public place.
    So I would certainly support what American Airlines did last year on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, which was diverted to Kansas City so the police could board and escort off the plane a woman in coach who refused to stop singing “I Will Always Love You” at full volume, pretty much nonstop from the Pacific Ocean to beyond the Continental Divide.
    After all, there is only so much caterwauling that anyone can take, even if it’s done by Dolly Parton, who wrote the song, or the late Whitney Houston, who made it so popular that many people with tin ears and strong vocal cords might be tempted to bellow it.

    No, the issue on that flight wasn’t about throwing an annoying singer off. Rather it was about what can be seen in the video of the incident taken by another passenger. As the police led the songbird to the exit, flight attendants can be heard ordering the rest of the passengers not to take photos or videos. “You are not allowed to take pictures on an airplane!” one flight attendant shouts, futilely, over the loudspeaker.
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