From the Long Beach Post there is a disturbing report that the Long Beach (California) Police Department has a policy which allows its law enforcement officers to detain photographers which they suspect may be taking photographs "with no apparent esthetic value."
Yes, you read that correctly.
In Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy, Greggory Moore states,
This policy apparently falls under the rubric of compiling Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) as outlined in the Los Angeles Police Department's Special Order No. 11, a March 2008 statement of the LAPD's "policy … to make every effort to accurately and appropriately gather, record and analyze information, of a criminal or non-criminal nature, that could indicate activity or intentions related to either foreign or domestic terrorism."
Among the non-criminal behaviors "which shall be reported on a SAR" are the usage of binoculars and cameras (presumably when observing a building, although this is not specified), asking about an establishment's hours of operation, taking pictures or video footage "with no apparent esthetic value," and taking notes.
Evidently, a photographer from the Long Beach Post was detained on June 30 after being observed taking photographs near a Long Beach refinery (follow the link to the Post story for an example of one of the photographs).
While some may consider such actions by law enforcement to be within the jurisdiction of keeping us safe from potential terrorist attacks, I think that it falls within the realm of ignorance in motion. On a purely logistics level, consider the lunacy of someone attempting to gather photographic information about a refinery by blatantly standing out in the open shooting away with their DSLR camera. Given the parameters of acts of terrorism, it would seem to me that PUBLICALLY ACCESSIBLE data from Google Maps would be of more benefit to a group intent on harming Americans.
The refinery image above was lifted straight off of Google Maps, at maximum zoom settings. While most of the general public, and most artists, would not be the least bit interested in this image, anyone intent on doing damage to a refinery would. For those in-the-know the image shows various components of a refinery, including their positions relative to each other. People familiar with refinery operations can identify the types of equipment shown, including which are of critical importance for the safe operation of the refinery. If you don't think this is useful information, think again. I know of some refinery engineers who will use this type of data for "quick and dirty" calculations.
Google Street View (as shown in the image above) gives yet another information-rich image for those with evil intent.
So then, as with TSA pat-downs of 5 year-old girls, of what benefit is it to detain a photographer blatantly taking photos near a high potential target? Is such an action truly providing us with a more secure country or is this simply a relinquishing of some of our liberties and - by default - an indication that the terrorists have won?
Recently I was on a PhotoWalk at Downtown Disney, with a group of photographers from a local church. Part way into the walk I notice that uniformed Disney Security guards were following us. After just a cursory look around I spotted one of their undercover personnel also monitoring our activity. Finally, after about 20 minutes, one of the uniformed personnel came over to me to ask if we were a photography class. He said that we had been observed taking photographs of their security cameras, the monorail, and one of the beams of the monorail track. After a courteous and professional discussion he, obviously being a rational individual, was able to see that we posed no threat. But, seriously? They felt that a group of photographers, which included a 10 year-old kid and two elderly ladies in motorized wheelchairs, posed a serious enough threat to send 4 to 5 of their security personnel into the situation?
As one in our group said later, "if we wanted to take photos of those things, we could've done it without being obvious." Exactly.
This issue goes beyond "artistic" street photography, but now extends to photos in public which authorities may deem as out of the ordinary or, as in the UK as "anti-social" in nature. Witness this report (and video) of a photographer being arrested in the UK for taking street photographs at a Christmas celebration. I suppose that the photographer should have put his camera away, and then proceed to ransack, loot, and destroy downtown shops - then the UK police would have left him alone!
Another UK photographer was not permitted to take photos of her son's baptism, which was being held in a public pool, because it was "against child protection laws."
Cameras in the hands of the common-man. An act of subversion? Or a liberty?
- image via http://www.not-a-crime.com/
Back to La Casita, for a Huevos Rancheros breakfast.
A Tex-Mex take, via southern California, on a Southwest delight. Two fried eggs, smothered in tomato sauce, lightly spiced, couched next to Spanish rice and pinto beans (sprinkled with cheese and the house salsa). Along with meal comes a couple of fresh, flour tortillas, made on the premises daily. Pinto beans option - either whole or refried. Around $7.
Huevos Rancheros - New Mexico style (again)
Yes, from one of my favorite haunts, Socorro's restaurant, Hwy. 84, Espanola, NM. I can't seem to get away from the Huevos Rancheros which is, indeed, a fantastic breakfast. Fried potatoes, pinto beans, corn tortillas smothered, this time, with New Mexico RED chili, onions, cheese and, in true New Mexico fashion... fried eggs on top.
Detail of the Fog Signal Building, at the Piedras Blancas Light Station, near San Simeon, CA.
Blue, deep blue, cloudless sky, on a mild winter's day on California's Central Coast. The environment, typically bound under fog, clouds, or wind, betraying itself. Calm, before the storm.
Enjoy the moment.
It will not last.
- image © 2008 A. R. Lopez
A local cat, at a living history museum, in Santa Fe Springs, CA.
With fine tuned hearing, a keen sense of smell, and claws within its quiet paws, the cat is designed for stealthy predation. Such exquisitely engineered handiwork. The fingerprint of God.
- image © 2008 A. R. Lopez
Crates and bins, behind a fish market, on a fisherman's wharf, Port San Luis, CA.
Colors, shapes, lines, angles. Subjective beauty in the common, unattractive things of life.
- image © 2008 A. R. Lopez
An empty elementary school on a weekend, this past fall. A dented trash can, painted blue, and a shadowed planter.
What of this past year?
- image © 2007 A. R. Lopez
Read Michael Yon's post, Consumer Reports: Geared for Combat, which gives a rundown of the cameras he's used to take the many photographs of Iraq over the past few years. He's put many of those photos up on that post.
This particular locomotive was not in service and was sitting in the trainyard, awaiting maintenance. The "K" in the designation refers to the type of axle arrangement. Such engines have a wheel 2-8-2 arrangement in which the front and back 2 wheels are not driven by the engine. Evidently the arrangement allows for a more efficient placement of the firebox. The "37" in the designation refers to the 37,000 pounds of pulling force.
Despite the massive power such a locomotive unleashes, when it is in full operation, it is in no way immune from the bondage of corruption. Cracked and peeling paint, rust eating its way across the metal. Left alone, it will decay into nothing.
I was recently honored to have this image featured in the WeeklyShot category of Texture.
- image © 2005 A. R. Lopez
There is a living history museum, a California State Park, just north of Santa Barbara, that we frequent every so often. It is one of the 21 California missions established by the Spaniards in the late 1700s and early 1800s. A visit to Mission La Purisima is an enchanting adventure, back in time, which is enhanced by the regular events held on the grounds in which docents, in period costumes, perform the daily tasks one would have seen, back in 1820.
Besides the bread baking and tortilla grilling, there is soap and candle making, some working looms, and a bona fide blacksmith at work. From the Santa Maria Times there's an interesting slideshow, highlighting the work of, and person who is, the blacksmith - Moises Solis. Take the time to watch: I am a Blacksmith (by Ian Vorster).
The McKinley County Courthouse, in Gallup, NM, (Google Maps) on a summer evening, this past June. Every night, during the summer, Indian dances are performed nightly at the courthouse square. We had arrived a few minutes early and, to pass the time, I wandered off with my new 50mm lens (and a polarizing filter).
This particular shot is of the recent addition to the courthouse (by clicking on the Google Maps link above, you can see the extent of the addition).
By using the polarizing filter, I was able to generate an image that, when converted to black & white, has a near black sky. I chose the off-angle composition at first due to the limitations of using a straight 50mm lens combined with a 1.4 conversion factor on my DSLR; but after playing around with different angles, I ended up liking the alternative perspectives I was getting.
I was honored to have this shot featured, recently, at WeeklyShot for the category, Light & Architecture.