• Best Places In Philly To Photograph Regional Rail Trains

  • Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.
Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

Moderator: AlexC

  by SubwayTim
 
Yesterday (Saturday) I was walking along 32nd Street, trying to find a good spot to take some photos of Regional Rail cars in Powelton Yard. One main thing that prevented me from getting good shots of some of the Silverliner II's and III's was the chain-link fence separating 32nd Street and Powelton Yard, that was pretty much overgrown with trees, vines and weeds. Does anyone here know of any (safe and legal) places within the city that are excellent for photographing Regional Rail trains, whether in service or parked in a yard? I know of one other area, which is along JFK Blvd between 30th Street Station and Penn Center. I remember someone mentioning a parking garage in the vicinity of Powelton Yard where you can get excellent shots of the trains, as well as the city, but I have no idea where it is. Any help is appreciated.

  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Yes, at 30th st sta, you can get good shots on the septa platform, and I haven't had any problems with the law there. In Center City, the RRD is underground until just below Temple U. About photographing septa trains in places other than 30th street, be careful where you go as most areas within the city limits are dicey, especially N. Philly. The station there is okay, but I don't feel too comfy going away from there.

  by Matthew Mitchell
 
While we're on the topic, let me pass along a request from Lt. Metzger of SEPTA Police. Please call his office (215-580-4000 and ask for SEPTA police, Lt. Metzger) in advance if you plan on taking photos of SEPTA trains. If you're shooting in the suburbs, it's a good idea to let the local police where you're going to photograph know in advance too. Give them your name and address and when and where you'll be taking pictures, and it'll help to give a bit of identifying information, like what color coat or hat you wear. That way, the authorities will know to expect you, and if they get a call from a well-meaning citizen, they'll know you aren't a threat.

And when you're taking pictures on or off the property, please be sure to carry photo ID and cooperate with any law enforcement people who might want to check it and find out why you're taking pictures. Trying to get in a constitutional law argument with a police officer is a stupid idea, even if you think you might be right. Just show your ID and be cooperative so the officer and you can both get on your way.

  by amusing erudition
 
Matthew Mitchell wrote:Trying to get in a constitutional law argument with a police officer is a stupid idea, even if you think you might be right. Just show your ID and be cooperative so the officer and you can both get on your way.
If you are right, though, it would make the officer personally actionable in a civil rights suit--I would definitely remind him of this in any such argument. Exercising your rights is not a stupid idea. Police officers are not allowed to do anything that couldn't be legislatively prescribed, and, frankly, if you let them get away with anything they're not allowed to do, down the slippery slope we go.

That said, I would recommend the same as Dr. Mitchell as far as giving name and ID, but if you're not doing something illegal, you don't have to respond with anything more than your name if you don't want, as I recall. Naturally, I'm not advocating not cooperating if that's what you want to do, but don't feel pressured into it if you don't want to.

-asg

  by motor
 
How long has SEPTA's photo regs been on the books? Post- or pre-9/11? To what extent has these regs been beefed up since 9/11. I read (either on this site or trainsmag.com's board) where the MBTA in Boston has had their restrictions in place long before 9/11.

motor

  by scotty269
 
Jenkintown station is a good place. I've taken several pictures there.

  by drewh
 
Wayne Junction is good with the yard, but also not so safe.

I imagine the garage being referred to above is the one at 30th St Station.

  by TransitServer
 
amusing erudition wrote:
Matthew Mitchell wrote:Trying to get in a constitutional law argument with a police officer is a stupid idea, even if you think you might be right. Just show your ID and be cooperative so the officer and you can both get on your way.
If you are right, though, it would make the officer personally actionable in a civil rights suit--I would definitely remind him of this in any such argument. Exercising your rights is not a stupid idea. Police officers are not allowed to do anything that couldn't be legislatively prescribed, and, frankly, if you let them get away with anything they're not allowed to do, down the slippery slope we go.

That said, I would recommend the same as Dr. Mitchell as far as giving name and ID, but if you're not doing something illegal, you don't have to respond with anything more than your name if you don't want, as I recall. Naturally, I'm not advocating not cooperating if that's what you want to do, but don't feel pressured into it if you don't want to.

-asg
I'm no Scalia strict constructionist, but I'm pretty sure the Bill of Rights makes no explicit mention of an unalienable, unassaiable right to take photos of passing railroad trains.

I agree, Matt Mitchell is absolutely right. It makes no sense to try and turn a very simple and routine matter into a Supreme Court case. You can either let the cop do his/her job and both walk away happy, or, you can initiate your test case experiment and find yourself on at least the immediate loosing end of what could be a long, costly, and ultimately meaningless demonstration of "rights" exercise.

There is no Constitutional right to stand next to a railroad Main Line with something that looks like a camera, mounted on what's likely a tripod, aimed at passing trains filled with hundreds of commuters, and then stonewall the police at every turn when they attempt to investigate. My guess is most reasonable people - judges and jury pools alike - would probably agree.

Matt's advice is solid and informed. Give a call ahead or stop in the local PD and let them give them a simple heads-up.

  by jonnhrr
 
Haven't shot pictures there myself, but seems like University City woudl be a good location - R1, R2, R3 in both directions from the island platform plus Amtrak trains on the nearby corridor tracks as a bonus.

PS was in Philly last weekend to travel up to Fort Washington, got some decent pix in 30th st upper level plus Fort Washington's new station.

Jon
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Amtrak is in the basement at 30th street, and yes, I have heard stories about people getting stopped for taking pictures at 30th street. If one wants to take pix of Amtrak on the platforms, they must have a ticket, and that also doesn't stop police or any Amtrak personel from hassling a photographer.

Back to Septa; their platforms at 30th street are great for pictures, especially of trains leaving Center City. I may be railfanning in the Philly/Wilmington area on thursday. Be EXTREMELY careful in N. and W. Philly; those areas have major issues with crime. If I were to pick one of those two parts of Philly, I would say N. Philly because the station is quite safe, and one can get great angles of the trains. Septa R7 and Chestnut Hill West trains pass and stop at N. Philly. Temple U station is a pretty good place, but the neighborhood might be a little scetchy.
  by ChemiosMurphy
 
No platform shots
No. I explicitly said the Septa platform to the cop and was denied because "It's a post 9/11 world in which we live in." I just shook my head and walked on.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Let's stick to suggestions for photo locations... let's not get caught up in the Constitutional argument for now. So far, the best advice I've seen is to comply with law enforcement when approached. You can always come back another day.

-otto-
  by NortheastTrainMan
 
Market East especially at RUSH HOUR! :-D
  by neroden
 
If you feel like defending your constitutional rights, the sanest thing to do:
(1) Cooperate for the time being (unless, of course, you're filming something exceptionally newsworthy like the Rodney King beating, but that's another situation).
(2) Ask politely for the cop's badge number and name, write it down, and mail a formal complaint to the police department, cc:ed to the local newspaper, describing the situation and citing the policies and rules which are being violated by the cop (in the common case where the railroad explicitly allows photography), or citing the lack of rules against photography and the railroad's positive encouragement of fan photos (in the second-most common case where there are no explicit rules, which seems to be the case with Amtrak). If they really do have explicit, published rules against photography, that's another matter, of course, and you should just follow them while writing complaints about them. Directing your response at the upper echelons is going to be far more effective than arguing at the spot. Most cops are trying to do their job, whether they actually know what they're doing or not.

(Of course, if a cop refuses to give name or badge number, the cop is violating any number of laws and regulations, and also *knows* that he's doing something wrong. At that point, you're dealing with a hardened criminal, and should use your judgment as you would if approached by a mugger on the street. Most people would do what the criminal asked, and once out of the situation, file a criminal complaint.)
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