Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some valuable information for future reference.

SEPTA Market East Station
One of the things I enjoy about photography is making otherwise mundane things look appealing. With some fancy lenses and an odd perspective, you can bring some life to something that perhaps you haven't seen before. It's why I enjoy going out at night and using my little tripod placed on the floor.

A favorite spot for these types of photos is train and subway stations. Generally, they're kind of dingy, but with a little color they can look bright and shiny. Usually, I can do these things with only a few odd glances from the commuters. On Saturday, however, I got more than a few odd glances.

I took about a dozen photos at the SEPTA Market East station -- trains leaving and arriving, wide-angle perspectives and junk like that. The whole operation took about 15 minutes. When I went back up the stairs, waiting for me were two uniformed transit officers.

They asked who I was and what I was doing. I figured the camera bag and tripod would have been a dead giveaway, but I respectfully answered their questions and told them I was a photographer having some fun. They asked me to wait, since they had called a couple of officers to the scene.

"Real cops or SEPTA cops?" I asked. They laughed a little, but I guess they were mildly insulted. I just wanted to know if I was going to a real jail or some made-up subway jail. It's good information to have.

After a couple of minutes, two uniformed officers arrived and asked me a couple of questions. I volunteered my drivers' license (as a show of good faith) and they took down my name, address and telephone number. I was informed that in order to photograph the station I needed permission from the people at the front desk and it was made clear that they didn't care for my presence in the building.

One of their concerns was how close I was to the track, and another was some sort of security risk. As you can see, I wasn't close enough that I was on the yellow marker. I'm not stupid enough to risk falling on the third rail.

Meanwhile, you can Google search "SEPTA Market East Station" and turn up about 100 photographs of the joint. I didn't want to be a jackass (since they were being as nice as possible about it) but I wondered (to myself) if they would have stopped me from doing this prior to 9/11/2001? I couldn't help but think that the terrorists have won again, and some small part of our personal freedom is lost when we can't walk into a subway station with a camera and take a few photos.

I just happened to wander in there on one of my Photo Safaris, and felt like I was killing some time and getting some nice computer wallpaper for my PC at work. Now that they've told me that I can't do it, I have this unbelievable urge to go back. There's something about being told that I can't do something that makes me want to do it.

Perhaps that makes me a security threat?

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