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Subject: "Terrorism and Photographers " Previous topic | Next topic
Sportymonk Registered since 16th Jul 2007Thu 11-Oct-12 04:53 AM
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"Terrorism and Photographers "


Rocky Mount, US
          

Gee, never knew photographers were such a disreputable bunch.

http://www.petapixel.com/2012/10/08/fbi-shows-up-on-mans-doorstep-after-he-shoots-photo-of-clouds/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PetaPixel+%28PetaPixel%29


http://www.petapixel.com/2012/08/09/terrorism-prevention-video-asks-public-to-report-photographers-to-police/

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
yelcab
11th Oct 2012
1
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire”
11th Oct 2012
2
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
13th Oct 2012
6
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
2pixels_short Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest
15th Oct 2012
12
     Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
16th Oct 2012
16
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Clint S Silver Member
15th Oct 2012
9
     Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Nitehawk5169 Gold Member
16th Oct 2012
15
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
avm247 Moderator Awarded for high skills in documentary architecture and aviation photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
11th Oct 2012
3
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Covey22 Moderator Expert in various fields including aviation photography Awarded for his contributions to the Resources and The Nikonian eZine
11th Oct 2012
4
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
2pixels_short Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest
13th Oct 2012
5
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources.
14th Oct 2012
7
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
gkaiseril Gold Member
14th Oct 2012
8
     Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources.
15th Oct 2012
10
          Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Sportymonk
15th Oct 2012
11
               Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources.
15th Oct 2012
13
                    Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
15th Oct 2012
14
                         Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Allen A Hale
17th Oct 2012
17
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
17th Oct 2012
18
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flashdeadline Administrator Expert professional photojournalist Awarded for his multiple contributions to the eZine, Newsletters and more
17th Oct 2012
19
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Floridian Silver Member
18th Oct 2012
20
Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
18th Oct 2012
21
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agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
19th Oct 2012
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          Reply message RE: Terrorism and Photographers
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19th Oct 2012
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yelcab Registered since 30th Nov 2006Thu 11-Oct-12 03:13 PM
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#1. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0


San carlos, US
          

"be careful next time!"

What do you mean? Be careful what?

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coolmom42 Silver Member Awarded for her enthusiastic support of the community and exemplifying the Nikonian mission “Share, Learn and Inspire” Nikonian since 01st Dec 2011Thu 11-Oct-12 03:48 PM
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#2. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0


McEwen, US
          

I can guarantee you that anyone found photographing the chemical manufacturing site where I work would be investigated. I know that it has happened at least twice, and the intent of the photographer was confirmed to be malicious in one case. He was making a serious effort to photograph a railroad access to the site, which carries multiple railcars of dangerous materials every day. There is no legitimate reason to photograph that spot on private property. He was found to be in the US illegally and was deported back to Syria, where he was a citizen.

Some photographers ARE terrorists, or are interested in selling the information for other illegal purposes.

Obviously the vast majority of us are not. But anyone who's ever worked in the chemical or petroleum industry, can understand the security concerns involved. I would NEVER try to photograph a secured area, even if I was only interested in the clouds.

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSat 13-Oct-12 10:59 PM
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#6. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 2
Sat 13-Oct-12 11:03 PM by Ned_L

Philadelphia, US
          

With respect Diane when I read, "There is no legitimate reason to photograph that spot on private property," my hair stood up on its end.

There may be times when someone is actually photographing something for criminal or terroristic intent, but those times are "few and far between." It is thousands of times more likely that a person photographing anything is doing it because they visualized an interesting shot.

How do you know that a photographer wouldn't find a refinery or chemical plant an interesting subject? For example, there are stock photographers who specialize in shooting heavy industry including chemical plants.

I did a series on the Sloss Furnace steel mill. I'm planning a refinery series to be shot later this year.

Frankly most people don't even consider a chemical plant a "secure area." or most other heavy industry either.

Moreover, I don't care if a police officer asks me what I'm doing, if they are courteous, and reasonable, but I've been threatened with arrest more than once, for taking photos of non-secure areas, of bridges which have already been photographed millions of times, of courthouses, of train stations, etc. Photographers are under assault by the police in this country, and most of the so-called "questioning" is outrageous. Photographers are considered guilty unless they prove they're innocent. In addition, more often than not, photographers are questioned and sometimes for a prolonged time without probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion.

We are giving up too much liberty for no extra security in this country and around the world, for that matter. Fortunately for me, my press pass is usually enough to get the police to leave me alone, but for ordinary citizen photographers, they are too often badly treated. Then, of course, sometimes the police are afraid of the press and showing the press pass makes things worse, yet the working press, in my opinion shouldn't have any fewer rights than ordinary citizens.

Ned
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2pixels_short Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 16th Oct 2003Mon 15-Oct-12 08:11 PM
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#12. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 6


Anchorage, US
          

Ned,

Your last two paragraphs pretty much sum up my thoughts on the matter and express it way better than I could hope to.

It seems these days we are deep into another era similar in many ways to the 50's McCarthyism.

For those who do not know or remember, McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence.

Substitute "terrorist" for "communist".

Two parts of the current state of fear in the US concern me the most. There may soon be wide spread "reporting" of "suspicious" behavior for no other reason that someone is annoyed by the actions of another. The spread of these reports may lead to the perceived requirement of large quasi law enforcement organizations to investigate the rising tide of reports. Give someone a uniform and a badge and an inflated sense of authority and it may lead to "routine" violations of human rights such as with the TSA and airline passengers.

Just because someone is afraid of the dark, does not give them the right to make me turn on every light in my house.

As a pipefitter for 30 years, I can appreciate a well planned and built piping layout such as a refinery or tank farm. Not many can see the beauty but I do.

I apologize if I have offended anyone.

Mike in Alaska


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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberTue 16-Oct-12 04:18 AM
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#16. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 12


Philadelphia, US
          

Mike, while I have an arts background, I'm also a chemical engineer, who's designed many chemical plant and refinery process units over the years. I hope you won't mind if I sit back and admire our work with you. Without great pipefitters, fabricators, electricians and other highly skilled people, my work as an engineer could never have existed.

I agree that we're in another age of hysteria, very much like the '50s McCarthy era, which I remember without fondness, even though I was a lad then.

I think we in the US need to renew our memory of what Edward R. Murrow said on March 9, 1954, in his attack on McCarthyism, in his report "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy." In his concluding comment, Murrow said:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men."

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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Clint S Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2011Mon 15-Oct-12 07:14 AM
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#9. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 2


Chula Vista, US
          

Coolmom42, comments like those you made and similar comments from others concern me.

But first, the malicious case you mentioned would not have been to malicious, otherwise the individual would have been prosecuted, not just deported.

There are all sorts of legitimate reasons to photograph a variety of industrial property, which is supported by US law. Additionally, in the US we do have the right to photograph almost anything as long as we are on public property and as long as it does not traverse ones right to privacy or other laws. There are a few exceptions and typically restrictions are posted.

People's fear are helping the terrorist! The following terrorist attacks or averted attacks were not planned with the aid of photographs: 9/11, Anthrax attacks, Any attack by the IRA, Car Bomb attacks, Ft. Dix terrorists, JFK airport bombers , Kidnapping of Americas by Iran, King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, Lackawanna 6, Liquid bombers of 2006 , London transport bombers, Madrid bombers, Miami 7, Shoe-bomber Richard Reid, Suicide Bombers, The Unabomber, Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Federal Building, and list goes on and on. Photography by terrorist is almost a myth.

Yet we do need to be aware of suspicious activity. And we also need to be polite and considerate when questioned by law enforcement, as well as aware of our rights. We also need to make top levels of law enforcement agencies aware of those that abuse the power granted to them.

If we balance all of this properly we remain with our freedoms intact. If not the terrorist have won and we lose more of our freedoms.

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Nitehawk5169 Gold Member Nikonian since 22nd Feb 2010Tue 16-Oct-12 03:19 AM
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#15. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 9


Williamstown, US
          

I tend to agree with the spirit of what Ned has reported. I do not want to give up any of my freedoms. My forefathers fought and some died so I could be free to behave in a civilized manner. If the government needs people to be vigilant because they don't have the manpower to cover terrorists acts, then as a citizen of this country I will take it upon myself to do just that and pardon me if I offend someone because I think they are doing something suspicious. One note on a previous statement by Clint, the Ft. Dix terrorists were caught because in their vanity of their planned deeds, they took pictures of themselves dressed as terrorists with weapons and had the pictures processed by a local processing lab. The vigilance of the lab technician, who reported it to the authorities, was the down fall of those individuals.

Mike

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avm247 Moderator Awarded for high skills in documentary architecture and aviation photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Charter MemberThu 11-Oct-12 03:50 PM
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#3. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0
Thu 11-Oct-12 03:53 PM by avm247

Rancho Cordova, US
          

Sigh. It's a sad sign of the times unfortunately.

And, it was properly investigated. The photographer was questioned, he was not arrested. Minor inconvenience of an everyday event interpreted as being suspicious.



Anthony

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Covey22 Moderator Expert in various fields including aviation photography Awarded for his contributions to the Resources and The Nikonian eZine Charter MemberThu 11-Oct-12 04:09 PM
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#4. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0
Thu 11-Oct-12 04:17 PM by Covey22

US
          

Disclaimer: I have a bit of knowledge about recon techniques from having a family-run security business in PacRim that's about 30 years old now. Some of our facilities under management include regional airports and corporate/industrial sites. So here's my USD0.02 before taxes.

You can call this a generalization if you like, but "bad actors" fall in to smart and dumb categories. After all, they're recruited and drawn from societies, so it's natural that they're reflective of a cross-section of their origins.

The dumb ones get caught, period. They may successfully conduct operations but by and large, they get bagged. Usually they are undone by relatively poor operational planning or practices.

The smart ones also get caught, but they may be successful for a long, long time. And yes Virginia, sometimes they do get away with it for good. Such is life.

Regardless of which actors we're talking about, the video above are simplifying several things for the benefit of a population that by and large (even post 9/11 and GWOT) still remains largely ignorant of what suspicious behavior really comprises when it comes to field reconnaisance of potential targets. This harkens back to the days of World War I and II where the US population were encouraged to turn in suspicious behavior or call in potential air raids or submarine sightings. Most of what you'll get in terms of reports will be false positives. It's trawling for the very few times where you'll actually get a real hit. But it doesn't cost anything to the government and it might actually work. Having worked for beancounters, I can see why this is appealing.

Overall, let's take the emotional impact statement by the horns:
Taking photos of buildings and facilities in of itself is not suspicious.

Photographs help identify gaps in security by giving information about people, technology and process. People - identifying individuals who may be vulnerable to some sort of external pressures (i.e., blackmail, bribery), technology (types of security equipment) and process (are security practices being enforced and effective). Certainly not an all-encompassing list by any means.

There are non-public (but not sensitive/classified) industry lists that interfaces with law enforcement. Every once in a while, there will be circulars asking for suspicious individual IDs, from stills taken by security systems. Some of those folks are carrying cameras. None of the cameras the individuals have are particularly good in low-light or high resolution - most of them are point & shoots. And do they look suspicious? Not really. Something about their behavior most likely triggered the request.

To that end, what constitutes suspicious behavior? We know it's not just taking a random odd shot of a building or a perimeter fence.

Good and effective recon of a facility means a couple of visits - at different times of the day or night and at different parts of the facility. Preferably once with a nearby contrived or (coincidentally timely) small crisis/event to see how the security force reacts. Operations with a large group of people are rare - more people knowing a secret means a greater risk of compromise. This is why operating cells of actors are small and isolated. Ideally, one cell or resource does the recon, passes it a middle-man and then is relayed to the cell actually conducting the operation. So a benign photographer who goes back again and again to "work" the same location will fall into that category by circumstance.

Everything I've just said is well-known, and most of it obsolete. Human behavior is unpredictable and there is a constant battle of measure and counter-measure between authorities and bad actors. The reality is that photographers have been caught up in the past by this practice, and they will for the foreseeable future. What we choose to do about it at an individual and collective level may help alleviate some of the inroads made to restricting our ability to practice our craft. But it may also become casualties to a larger political situation that is reflective of the times we live in.

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2pixels_short Gold Member Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning in the Best of Nikonians 2013 images Photo Contest Nikonian since 16th Oct 2003Sat 13-Oct-12 06:57 AM
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#5. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0


Anchorage, US
          

Too much paranoia in the US these days.

They won.

People are willing to give up their rights too easily.

Mike in Alaska


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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberSun 14-Oct-12 12:36 AM
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#7. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0


Phoenix, US
          

Lee et al:

What are your thoughts about this organization?

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Sun 14-Oct-12 06:43 PM
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#8. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 7


Chicago, US
          

It is not the group but what they do with the information they gather.

Will they by 100% successful?

Will they not hurt an innocent individual?

Having served in the U.S. Army and read Bertolt Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle while in the service and almost became the subject of security investigation. The author was not American and had a foreign author. It also challenged Solomon's decision or offered another view of the facts and possible outcome.

Makes one wonder what the U.S. Army is defending us against.



George
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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberMon 15-Oct-12 06:28 PM
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#10. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 8
Mon 15-Oct-12 10:40 PM by HBB

Phoenix, US
          

George:

Good points!

As citizens, we typically have little to no knowledge of what happens to surveillance data collected by various agencies. This issue becomes a question of agency secrecy versus freedom of information. Clearly, there are at least two sides to this issue.

I doubt that any agency can be 100 percent successful in efforts to thwart terrorism and other malicious acts threatening our safety and security. There will be false positives (those detained and later cleared of all malicious intent) and false negatives (those cleared in an airport security inspection, for example, who later attempt or complete a malicious act). Examples of both already exist.

It would be interesting to learn how many citizens would report a suspicious act to authorities versus those who would remain silent for fear of getting involved and/or fear of litigation should they be wrong. Is the answer to this question legislation guaranteeing immunity from prosecution for those willing to speak up? Another very challenging question.

The debate continues with two extremes: those preferring unlimited freedom versus those favoring dramatically heightened security measures. A middle ground, satisfying both sides, appears fiendishly difficult, and perhaps impossible, to identify.

From another perspective, the issue can be addressed from a proactive versus reactive model. In the proactive model, agencies strive to identify and neutralize threats before they are carried out. In the reactive model, agencies attempt to identify and capture those responsible for violent acts after they occur. Clearly, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Here again, a middle ground acceptable to all is difficult to identify. As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, many violent acts have been addressed in the reactive mode, by definition, as credible warnings did not surface in time, or were ignored.

During the last dozen years or so, I attended several citizen academies conducted by law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, county, and local levels. While a member of their alumni associations for several following years, I attended numerous lectures and briefings on agency activities, including counter-terrorism measures. I continue to have frequent contact with these agencies through my volunteer photography. Net result of this experience is heightened awareness of groups that would deprive us of our freedoms, and the enormous complexity of the tasks facing law enforcement agencies at all levels.

Both sides of the security versus freedom debate remain passionately committed to their respective positions. I lack the wisdom to offer the elusive compromise solution, and thus remain an interested and hopefully objective observer.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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Sportymonk Registered since 16th Jul 2007Mon 15-Oct-12 06:55 PM
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#11. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 10


Rocky Mount, US
          

I like your comments. The problem it seems is the difficulty in distinguishing between the "Gee, I was just taking a picture of something that caught my eye and made a pretty image" and the no-uniform subversive taking images for undisclosed reasons. They all look the same.

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HBB Moderator Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Charter MemberMon 15-Oct-12 11:00 PM
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#13. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 11


Phoenix, US
          

Lee:

Agreed, how does one distinguish serious photographer from serious bad guy?

Serious bad guys can capture and transmit their images discreetly while using a cell phone, or they can set up a tripod, mount an expensive camera on it and explain to questioning authorities that they are capturing artistic images. To me, the cell phone approach is easier.

Compounding the issue is the question of interpreting local, applicable laws. How do we know that all officers are thoroughly briefed, and have a common, accurate understanding? Simple answer, we don't.

It is unfortunate that well-meaning photographers get caught up in the confusion. It is also unfortunate that the "one size fits all" solution to the problem, that all factions can accept, is nowhere in sight.

Regards,

HBB in Phoenix, Arizona
Nikonian Team Member

Photography is a journey with no conceivable destination.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 15-Oct-12 11:51 PM
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#14. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 13


Philadelphia, US
          

It's far more than unfortunate. In many cases, the questioning, detention, etc., by the police is illegal. The police need at least some probable cause, or even some reasonable suspicion of wrong doing.

Several years ago, I was stopped taking photos of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, built in 1926. I explained the bridge was interesting and I was trying to get some new angles in photographing it. I was told that under the Patriot Act I was forbidden to take photographs of strategic facilities like the BF Bridge. I was threatened with arrest if I didn't stop and was told to delete the photos. I refused to delete the photos and told the cop, politely that I had a Constitution right to take the photos, and he had no right to delete them for me. He again threatened me with arrest. I suggested he get his supervisor immediately as I would sue the PPD for false arrest and him personally if he arrested me, and I had a great lawyer, and since he hadn't arrested me I was leaving as is my right. I walked away. I think he was dumbfounded. He didn't do anything more about me, thank goodness. I didn't need more hassle.

Everything the cop said was incorrect. Moreover, that bridge has been photographed incessantly for more than 80 years. Google lists 3,150,000 images of the bridge with links in their search engine.

The authorities would be better off not worrying, at first, who's a good guy and who's not. They should be worrying about following the law, and not treating every photographer like a criminal before they know if they are a criminal.

It's more than unfortunate that good-guy and good-gal photographers get caught up in the confusion. It's criminal on the part of the police.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Allen A Hale Registered since 26th May 2012Wed 17-Oct-12 03:52 PM
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#17. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 14
Wed 17-Oct-12 03:53 PM by Allen A Hale

Udonthani, TH
          

I am continually amazed about how so many people will talk or write about how much blood has been given for our freedoms and how quickly those same people seem so willing to give up some of those freedoms out of fear, real or percieved.

However it is reassuring to read on this forum that there are people who understand and willingly exercise our freedoms.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 17-Oct-12 04:16 PM
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#18. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 17


Philadelphia, US
          

I couldn't agree with you more Allen.

Ned
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flashdeadline Administrator Expert professional photojournalist Awarded for his multiple contributions to the eZine, Newsletters and more Nikonian since 07th Apr 2002Wed 17-Oct-12 05:59 PM
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#19. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0


Havelock, US
          

Interesting points so far. I hope nobody glossed over Hal Becker's excellent observation about some bad actor with a cell phone. Some of you may recall the good old days of the Minox camera. Very small, very discrete little camera that any good spy up to no good would use to take photos without being spotted.

I would think that anyone who needs to get their own images because their Google Live Street Map function was lacking on a certain area would have half a brain cell in use to decide perhaps a cell phone camera might serve the reconnaissance needs. Besides, he must know by now that the Minox was a film camera and “nobody uses film anymore.”

Reminds me of an incident with my wife many years ago. We were going out to the beach with our sons and I had recently purchased a real nice set of binoculars. Told the Mrs. I wanted to take the new glass out to the beach for testing. You can bet that she (the law) had me under close scrutiny all darn afternoon as I scanned that beach. The smart thing to do would have been to bring a real nice (and very dark) set of sunglasses.

---Tom

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Floridian Silver Member Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007Thu 18-Oct-12 02:19 AM
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#20. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 0


Tallahassee, Florida, US
          

Here is a key quotation from the article in the second link:

"We’ve been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.

Except that it’s nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn’t photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn’t photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren’t being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn’t known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about — the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 — no photography."

Question: Has there ever been a case in which a terrorist has been associated with photographing something to aid a terrorist attack?

Randy

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberThu 18-Oct-12 02:38 PM
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#21. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 20


Philadelphia, US
          

To carry out their operations over the years, there is clear evidence that the CIA, FBI, MI6 and other governmental organizations have used photographic surveillance to gather information about their targets, and evidence, for that matter. They especially shot photos and video of suspected terrorists and criminals themselves for identification purposes, both to be sure who they are, and to make sure that they are identified properly when the government has moved in.

It is therefore easy to understand the government inferring that somewhere along the line, terrorists will do the same. Many photographs were found on Bin Laden's computers when he was killed, for example. The 11 arrested in Bangalore India who were going to try to assassinate political leaders and journalists had many photos of their targets.

I have no problem with watching out for suspicious photographers as long as it's done within the law. Much of the problem is what constitutes suspicious photography. For example, taking photos of famous landmarks including bridges, courthouses, monuments itself isn't suspicious, but because of the way many police departments have told their officers to go about this part of the their job, many officers conclude that anyone taking such photos are potential terrors and all must be treated as such unless they are sure (virtually proved) they're not, and that's absurd. Taking photographs of trains, including closeups is something many do. It's not terrorism per se. The same is true of industrial sites.

Much of the problem today is that commonsense has been thrown out the window, and ridiculous orders have gone too far. That needs to be reeled in.

We all know the saying, "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck." Well if it looks like a tourist, and photographs like a tourist, and talks like a tourist, then it probably is a tourist. To think otherwise is illogical, so if a police officer is still suspicious, okay, but treat the photographer as a tourist, unless after some reasonable questions, they don't act or talk like a tourist.

Two other ideas come time mind. For most terrorist targets, two things are true. There are probably at least thousands of photos of the target on the Internet already, and few targets even need more than a casual "look-see" to target them well, so there will be few terrorists doing photographic studies of their targets, other than people. Referring back to government operations mentioned above, it's far more difficult to take down a bunch of terrorists and have serious and convincing evidence against them without some photo/video surveillance, than it is for the terrorist to take down their target without any photo/video assistance whatsoever.

With regard to chemical plants mentioned by Diane, as an example. While it may be that some idiot terrorist is taking photos of the plant to help decide how to attack it, it's far more likely that the person photographing the plant is a person with an interest in photographing industrial sites which have an incredible array of fascinating looks and views that few people have ever seen, but that many would find amazing, especially with an accompanying explanation of what it is in the photo. I say "idiot terrorist" because if you merely drive by a few dozen times (in different vehicles, of course) you'll be able to quickly identify all potential ways in, if getting in is necessary, and what targets within the plant are worthwhile, and will cause the most damage. With my chemical engineering background, if you give me about 10 minutes of total surveillance I can easily identify precisely where to hit a chemical plant to the greatest effect, just like any other chem engineer. Moreover, I would think you wouldn't even enter the complex, but that a Stinger missile attack would work the best, so entry isn't even a factor to figure out.

Here's the thing. Photography isn't a crime. Making photographs of industrial sites, bridges, airports, train stations, subways, trains, monuments, historical buildings, high rises, etc. isn't a crime. It's not terrorism. There are also typically thousands of shots of these locations readily obtainable by anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone which already exist.

The paranoia and hysteria directed at tourists and serious photographers making images of these locations must stop. If it doesn't stop, then the terrorist have already won, because they've made us radically change our lives and be very afraid of ourselves.

While we need to be alert, and prepared, we need to rein in the extremism rampant today. We need to regain control of our police, and security agencies. "Street smarts" and intelligence will catch terrorists, not paranoia, as has been shown time and time again. We need to regain our rationality.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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agitater Gold Member Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Fri 19-Oct-12 04:10 AM
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#22. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 21
Fri 19-Oct-12 04:16 AM by agitater

Toronto, CA
          

I tread carefully here.

What's missing in the discussion - and I include the comments contributed by those with avowed security and military experience - is the fact that once a villain has penetrated your defenses and is actually inside the house, going through your drawers and rifling your pants pockets, you've missed the boat.

When borders and other entry points are so porous - essentially, manned by misguided and poorly trained security teams intent on searching baby stollers, wheelchairs, and looking under the skirts of old ladies instead of performing the harder and more skilled effort of interview and qualifying assessment - a situation is then created in which the population of the country is moved to turn on itself in many situations. Once it's known that borders have been penetrated, the population is driven to mutual suspicion. Why does this surprise anyone? Once borders have been penetrated, there is no more security. It's all catch-up after that - a losing battle at best, a catastrophe of epic proportions at worst. Does any of this ring a bell?

The police are composed of fallible citizens who've had the benefit of specialized training for the most part. But many of them are just as fearful, suspicious and panicky as many common citizens. In the minds of the authorities - who know full well that the fox is already in the hen house, disguised as just another hen - all the hens are suspects. How could they think otherwise?

In the intelligence dodge, Infragard is a joke. It produces little of value.

Half the photographic site information that might be of interest to prospective villains these days is available through Google street view. The psychopaths who walk past a secure facility or office building (or whatever) intent on photographing something for later examination in order to determine or detect something of interest to them, are like the idiot who shows up wearing a jester's costume at a party where everyone else is wearing a suit. As Armando implied in his comment, a psychopath stands out by definition - because he can't fit into normal society. The psychopaths are also a distraction, many of them deployed and sacrificed by nefarious agents to distract and confuse and scare common citizens and to test existing defense & detection schemes.

The problem is simply that all the villains aren't psychopaths. They don't penetrate borders and then don black capes and stand under street lamps twirling their moustaches so that we can spot them. Far from it, the scariest villains are the ones who are dedicated to their beliefs, and who believe their actions are justified, and who (when confronted) can bring demonstrably cogent arguments to the table. If you let those ones inside your borders, you've got a problem which no amount of profiling, Infragard-style ratting on the neighbours, wanding & frisking everyone at the entrances to a football stadium, or accosting photographers like Ned (or Armando or me or any of thousands of other Nikonians) is going to fix.

Our leaders fail us. Our bureacracy fails us. Our security services fail us. They've all succeeded in slamming the door shut after the villains were already inside. Once the villains acclimatize and start to look just like us, we're driven to suspect our neighbours and friends. Really - you have to ask yourselves what was served (and what is being served now) by allowing that to happen? Does such a situation allow well-funded and authoritarian agencies to gain even more control over us in our respective countries and communities? Did it happen because of the arrogance of competing security agencies who refused to cooperate deeply enough over the decades? If it's not one of those two reasons, is it that too many of the villains are a lot smarter than the people we have in place to guard us?

Stupid cops approach a photographer and demand to know what's going on. Smart cops approach a photographer and ask about what's so interesting, thereby giving a real photographer (amateur, beginner or pro) the opportunity to start babbling about light, angles, texture, etc., etc., whereupon the cop comes to understand that there's nothing going on. The lesson from this sort of example is the uncomfortable conclusion that our local police are poorly trained for this. The chiefs of police, commanders, and rank & file cops - in the course of panic over the fact that the fox is already in the hen house - have forgotten the most important lesson of all that when you start treating too many citizens with suspicion and rancour, you make enemies out of them, and then you've got to battle your own people at the same time as you battle well-disguised villains. It doesn't get any dumber than that. Good grief, you couldn't make this *&%* up.

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Howard Carson

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 19-Oct-12 05:16 AM
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#23. "RE: Terrorism and Photographers "
In response to Reply # 22


Philadelphia, US
          

"Stupid cops approach a photographer and demand to know what's going on. Smart cops approach a photographer and ask about what's so interesting, thereby giving a real photographer (amateur, beginner or pro) the opportunity to start babbling about light, angles, texture, etc., etc., whereupon the cop comes to understand that there's nothing going on. The lesson from this sort of example is the uncomfortable conclusion that our local police are poorly trained for this. The chiefs of police, commanders, and rank & file cops - in the course of panic over the fact that the fox is already in the hen house - have forgotten the most important lesson of all that when you start treating too many citizens with suspicion and rancour, you make enemies out of them, and then you've got to battle your own people at the same time as you battle well-disguised villains. It doesn't get any dumber than that. Good grief, you couldn't make this *&%* up."

Very well said. Thanks.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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